Sam Kerr’s Chicago Red Stars have missed the chance to consolidate their spot in the National Women’s Soccer League top four after falling to a heavy defeat against North Carolina Courage on Thursday (AEST).
Despite pushing the league-leaders for much of the match a Sahlen's Stadium, the Red Stars were eventually overrun and went down 4-1.
A massive thunderstorm and lightning forced kick-off for the match to be delayed by more than half an hour but once the match got started it was the Westfield Matildas striker that almost broke the deadlock.
Inside nine minutes Kerr used her speed to get in behind the Courage defence but her powerful strike from inside the box cannoned onto the crossbar.
It proved a huge turning point in the match with the Courage then taking the lead themselves 11 minutes later.
Crystal Dunn’s seventh goal of the NWSL season put the home side in front at the break before they ran away with the match late on.
Two goals in three minutes midway through the second half from Lynn Williams and Debinha made the result safe, before Kristen Hamilton made it 4-0 three minutes from time.
The Red Stars got a consolation in stoppage-time as Yuki Nagasato won – and converted – a penalty.
North Carolina has now opened up a 16-point lead at the top of the NWSL ahead of a full round of matches on the weekend.
Kerr’s Chicago will be hoping they can bounce back immediately when they travel to the Aussie star’s former club Sky Blue FC on Sunday (AEST).