August 6, 2017 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - Portland Thorns FC
PORTLAND, Ore. - Returning from a league-wide international break, Portland Thorns FC tallied two first-half goals, picking up their fourth straight home win with a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dash in front of 18,243 fans at Providence Park on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Thorns FC (8-4-4, 28pts) are now tied for first place in the NWSL standings with the Chicago Red Stars (28pts) and are one point ahead of the North Carolina Courage (27pts) and four points clear of Seattle Reign FC (24pts). Wrapping up this weekend's matches, Chicago takes on the Orlando Pride, while the Courage play host to Seattle. Additionally, Portland improved to 7-1-1 at Providence Park this season and equaled the team's second-longest home winning streak in club history with the result against Houston.
Defender Emily Sonnett and forward Tyler Lussi recorded their first goals of the season. Lussi, playing in just her fourth professional match, tallied her first professional goal. Lussi now has one goal and two assists in four matches this season and is just the second player in 2017 for Portland to record a goal and an assist in the same game. For Sonnett, the goal was the second of her professional career, her first during the regular season, as the Thorns FC defender tallied a goal in Portland's 2016 NWSL playoff semifinal against the Western New York Flash. In addition, Lussi and Sonnett are the eighth and ninth different players to score a goal for Portland this season.
Thorns FC secured an early 1-0, taking advantage of a set-piece opportunity in the 12th minute. Defender Meghan Klingenberg delivered service to the back post from the right wing. Lussi outjumped her defender and directed a hard header back towards the right post for Sonnett, who came crashing in to finish at the goal line.
The Dash (6-8-2, 20pts) leveled the match in the 33rd minute as forward Carli Lloyd converted a penalty kick, but Thorns FC reclaimed the lead just six minutes later. Forward Christine Sinclair started the counter attack with a quick change of direction near midfielder, springing Klingenberg free down the left flank. Making a surging run into the box, Klingenberg cut back and slotted a pass to Lussi inside the goal box. The ball took several deflections, but Lussi stayed with the play and finished into the bottom right corner of the goal to put Thorns FC ahead 2-1 in the 39th minute.
Remaining on the front foot in the second half, Portland outshot Houston 12-3, allowing zero shots on target. For the game, Thorns FC held a 20-11 edge in shots as goalkeeper Adrianna Franch made two saves, including a diving stop to parry away a knuckling shot from distance by midfielder Caity Heap in the 43rd minute.
Looking for a third goal, Thorns FC created numerous scoring opportunities in the second half, peppering the Dash goal with five shots in the first 15 minutes of the period. Midfielder Lindsey Horan, who finished with a match-high six shots, nearly scored off a corner kick with a header in the 56th minute and came close on a long-distance effort in the 58th minute. In the 69th minute, defender Katherine Reynolds delivered a pinpoint cross from the right wing into the box for Horan, who sent a diving header towards the left post, but Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell dove at the last second to parry the attempt away.
Portland had several additional chances in the final 10 minutes of the match. Following a quick sequence of passes around the goal box, forward Hayley Raso found midfielder Allie Long making a run down the left side of the box with a pass, but Long's shot bounced off the crossbar in the 81st minute. In the 89th minute, Horan received a pass from Sinclair inside the box, bending her shot towards the right post, but Campbell was able to make the save.
Up next, Portland begins a two-game road swing, traveling to square off against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday, Aug. 12, at Toyota Park; kickoff is set for 5 p.m. (Pacific) with a live, high-definition web stream available at www.nwslsoccer.com and www.g90.com.