Thorns Strike Back Against KC at Home

The Thorns had a rough couple games in a row recently. Their last home game back on June 17th was a 3-1 loss to Sky Blue FC. They then hit the road and dropped a close one to the Washington Spirit in Maryland. On top of all that the injury bug doesn’t seem to want to let up. However, a midweek clash with FC Kansas City seemed to do the trick.

The Thorns came out with what looked like some cautious play, as if they were feeling out their opponents. Some strong passing early on allowed them to move the ball up field, but no great chances in the first 14 minutes. Then a breakthrough.

Allie Long played a great ball in from just outside the KC box, but the effort went off the right post. Luckily, Captain Christine Sinclair, never one to give up on a play, was right there to ensure the effort was not wasted. Thorns up 1-0, but they weren’t done yet.

The goal seemed to push them up another level, and with some timely saves from Adrianna Franch, they were able to keep pressing. Just about 17 minutes after Sinclair’s goal, Hayley Raso scored her first NWSL goal, and to say it was a beauty is an understatement.

Was it a cross? Was it a shot? According to the goalscorer herself “It was a goal,” said with a smile of course. For someone who works so hard, and creates so many chances, it was nice to see her get that first goal, and in quite the fashion as well.

Up 2-0 at halftime has sometimes been a detriment for teams who feel like they have the contest won already. Not the Thorns however. They came out putting the pressure on from the start of the second.

The Thorns newest member, Aussie Ashleigh Sykes, saw significant time as she came on for Meleana Shim, who played a very solid 62 minutes, making some key defensive stops. Dagny Brynjarsdottir made way for Celeste Boureille in the 67th minute, also putting in a great performance helping to setup the first goal.

Portland Thorns Meleana Shim Providence Park NWSL
Photo Courtesy, Jan Landis The Asian Reporter

While continuing to keep pressure on, Sinclair seemed to have secured her second of the game, but was whistled for a handball, which she was not too pleased about. The ref definitely got an earful, and the Captain was rewarded with a Yellow Card for her efforts. She didn’t have to wait long to secure a brace however.

This goal was indicative of her night. Poised, patient, and expert positioning. She took the pass from Raso, positioned the ball perfectly, and struck it home. A bit of revenge for the one called back on the handball too. That’s how it ended, 3-0.

While Sinclair and Raso had banner nights, I thought Lindsey Horan played a great game as well. She recorded an Assist on the Raso goal, but did so much more. She hustled and was a rock in the middle, even when play got physical.

Hayley Raso Lindsey Horan Portland Thorns June 28 2017
Photo Courtesy Jan Landis, The Asian Reporter

Franch’s sixth Clean Sheet of the season can’t be ignored either. She came up with some huge saves, and one timely offside call, but overall was a rock in the back, as well as the back four.

Noticeably absent was Nadia Nadim, who suffered a groin tweak in training and was left off for precautionary reasons according to Head Coach Mark Parsons. Nadim will also be out for the trip up to Seattle this weekend (July 1st) on short rest, then National duty comes calling in Europe after that.

With this win the Thorns move into third place with 18 points, two behind Chicago, and six behind leaders North Carolina. Although, much less separates the teams behind them, with five points being the difference with seventh placed Kansas City.

The matchup with Seattle will be a crucial one as this season gets deeper in. With international duty and injuries, depth and newcomers will play a key role in the next few weeks.

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