Thorns Dominate Utah at Home

THE SCENE

The Thorns return home after a very disappointing loss to that team up north. The 89th minute strike from that team, was another setback in this up and down season. It also pushed the Thorns to sixth place (5-5-5, 20 points) in the NWSL table.

They enter the match with the team just above them, the Utah Royals, who sit at 21 points. However, Utah also has a game in hand. Things are not as bleak as they may seem though. The Thorns are three points away from second place (that aforementioned team up north).

They come into this one without the services of Andressihna (right ankle sprain) or Meghan Klingenberg (suspension). Tobin Heath made her way back into the starting lineup for this one, and it’s much needed.

There’s still some time to make up ground, but that dwindles every game. With nine games left, the Thorns need to turn things around. Utah is not a pushover though, and provide a tough matchup.

FIRST HALF

Even fast starts sometimes take five to ten minutes to get going. Don’t tell Heath that, she would think it’s too long. The Thorns had the kickoff, but quickly turned it over. They regained control and put the press on.

Heath brought the ball up the left after a pass from Midge Purce, and chipped the ball on goal after a back-and-forth with Marie Crnogorcevic and well, see for yourself!

Utah looked a bit out of sorts after that, and who could blame them? They did have their chances early, and this was by no means an off half for Thorns Keeper Adrianna Franch. Utah did have one, lingering problem though: Heath.

The Midfielder was not done by a long shot. Heath kept the pressure up, as well as her teammates. While there was some back-and-forth, another breakthrough was waiting, and came at the 32nd minute mark. Heath’s long free-kick found Lindsey Horan for an incredible second goal.

Much like after the first one, the Thorns didn’t let up, and were rewarded. Barely two minutes after scoring, they were pressing yet again. Horan went up the middle with Crnogorcevic on her right, Heath on her left. Not very fair for Royals Keeper, Abby Smith.

This was the team we all remember! After the third goal, what followed was pure domination by the Thorns. The Royals came back with what appeared to be chances, but were quickly snuffed out. As good as the Thorns were at the front, they were just as good on the backend.

The half did end on a down note however. Purce was carried off on a stretcher after a rough tackle from a Utah player. It’s a pretty rough replay.

SECOND HALF

Mallory Weber came on for Purce at the beginning of the second half. The Thorns didn’t seem intent on resting on their lead, as they came out with pressure. Weber fit in well, as she used her speed wisely, much like Purce.

Utah used their sparse chances wisely, forcing Franch to make the save, which she did. One particular stop in the 57th minute, was reminiscent of Randy Moss leaping into the air and plucking the ball down. Franch is incredible at what she does.

Heath came off in the 62nd minute to a very deserving applause, as we got to see Tyler Lussi. I guess Lussi was chomping at the bit, because in about 20 seconds of entering the pitch, this happened.

This one really highlighted how good Horan was in this one. Obviously because she scored, but her passing and ability to see the field and play developing was outstanding. She was a step ahead of everyone else out there.

Lussi didn’t seem to be done either. Her and Hayley Raso blitzed the right side a few times, keeping the Utah defense on their heels. The Thorns just seem to pick out deficiencies in Utah’s game plan the whole night.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Everything? Nah even I’m not that much of a homer, well, close. It did seem like everything went right, and I guess you could make an argument it did. If it makes sense, I would say cohesiveness.

All eleven, whether starters or subs, seemed to be on the same page from the start of this one. That’s something we haven’t seen in quite a few games. Horan wasn’t the only one a step ahead tonight. Sinclair, Crnogorcevic, Emily Menges, Ellie Carpenter and Celeste Boureille all had great positioning and awareness.

Franch looked sharp as well. It’s tough for a Keeper to stay focused when they aren’t being tested very often, but she was there when needed.

WHAT WENT WRONG

I’m going to try to find something to nitpick, but I mean, why? It was 4-0. The Thorns scored just over a minute into the game. They scored their third and fourth goals two minutes apart. Lussi scored about 20 seconds after entering the pitch. Franch looked in prime form. I…uh…would have been nice to see Sinclair score?

BEST TAKE(S)

Stats can be takes too, right?

I’m with Kris. I mean, I’m obviously happy they showed up tonight, but where they been?!

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE

The Thorns have a long break (finally!) and will be back in action, at Providence Park, on Sunday July 15th. They’ll be welcoming in the Houston Dash, sat just under the Thorns, in seventh with 17 points, but a game in hand.

Next match will see the return of Klingenberg, and hopefully a rested and recovered Andressinha.

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