(Photos Courtesy of Jody Lim, The Asian Reporter)
Once again it was a beautiful night for the Portland Thorns at Providence Park. The weather was just about perfect, the team was riding a seven-game home unbeaten streak, and they packed in a season record 18,637 fans. The Thorns definitely did not disappoint.
I don’t know if it was being back home, or having Allie Long back in the starting eleven, or even if they felt they deserved more than one point from last week’s matchup in Boston, but they came out swinging against the Breakers.
Hayley Raso used her speed, and tenacity, to get some space down the left side, with her cross going out for a corner. Nadia Nadim’s cross went over the middle of the box, but found it’s way back in the mix and went in off a Boston Defender. All of a sudden it’s 1-0 to the Thorns, barely a minute into the match.
They weren’t done yet though. The pressure the Thorns put on Boston was relentless. Shortly after the quick opening goal, Thorns Midfielder Amandine Henry found herself with some space just outside the box, which was bad luck for Boston. The French National Team member uncorked a blast which beat the Keeper to the bottom right, and now five minutes in it’s 2-0 Thorns.
Henry would almost add another, with a similar chance to her goal, but this time clanging off the crossbar. I’m not sure if they checked it for damage, but they should have, incredible shot. While the final score would remain at 2-0, it could have easily been six or seven goals to the Thorns.
Coach Mark Parsons was quick to praise Henry, saying she has been so good at both ends and creating opportunities. He added he was happy to see her score, her first as a Thorn, as he has been impressed with her abilities with both feet when it comes to shooting. “I asked her at halftime ‘Where’s that left-foot been?!'” Parsons said with a facetious smile.
The Thorns were relentless. They dominated first half possession with 65%, ending the game with 60% for the full 90 minutes. Quite a different game to the first matchup. Raso, Long, and Christine Sinclair were all over the pitch, especially in the attacking half. All three had multiple opportunities.
Raso’s high-tempo pace led the way, but also resulted in some rough collisions and tumbles. A particularly rough one toward the end of the game, resulting in an instant Red Card for the Boston Defender. Raso would be able to finish the game.
The backline should not be overlooked in this one either. The Emily’s (Sonnett and Menges) played well, and bent, but did not break on a couple Boston chances. Meghan Klingenberg and Celeste Boureille did well to contribute to the attack, but also quick to stifle counters. Then there was Adrianna Franch or “A-Dizzle” as she’s known in the Twitterverse.
She got her fourth Clean Sheet of the season, and while she only had one save on the stat sheet, she claimed four crosses and one punch. She was in the right place at the right time whenever Boston was threatening. Franch was about as locked in as it gets.
After three straight draws, it was nice to see the Thorns snag a much deserved three points in this one. While the scoring was early on, it was a complete game by all in the red kits. They are now in fifth in the standings with 12 points, but only three points off the leaders North Carolina Courage.
The Thorns are back on the road next weekend, and heading to the East Coast once more. They take on Sky Blue FC in New Jersey on June 3rd at 4 pm PST.