The Thorns/Dash rematch in Portland might have been rescheduled for an earlier to to avoid the heat, but that didn’t stop the sparks from flying. Despite the 11:20 AM kick off, over eighteen thousand fans showed up for it, the third match of the season to crack that number. With France and Iceland both out of the tournament, only Nadia Nadim was missed and Portland were in fine form. The Thorns were able to wrap up their home stand with a third win, snapping the Dash’s unbeaten streak.
The Thorns shifted their formation, opting to sit both Long and Henry, and start Horan further back, with Dagny, who’s become something of a jack of all trades for the club this season, having played three positions in 5 games. Sinclair was allowed to sit slightly further back, allowing her to draw players at her own pace and leaving Lussi and Raso to press ahead. With Reynolds back to match fitness, she appears to have won her starting right back position back. The starting shape of the two clubs was not too different, save the midfield, Lloyd occupying a similar space to Sinclair, with Daly and Prince her forwards.
The Thorns had the first push of the game, managing to earn their first offside call seconds into the game. The first noticeable call of the game was a surprising and unnecessary shirt pulling from Daly. It was a bit early in the game for it to be chalked up to frustration, but too clear to assume that was something she thought she’d get away with.
The early pressure paid off, and though Brooks attempted to clear Klingenberg’s service; the ball in by found its way to Lussi’s head, and she found Sonnett, whose simple heel tap was all it took to put them on the board.
The Dash would get their first real chance in the 18th minute, and Prince’s ball, whilst truly struck, would be gathered by Franch. The 28th minute would see two deflections, one by the cross bar, and one by the Dash, deny the Thorns, the third shot too high from Lussi.
The 33rd minute would see the Dash equalize with a penalty called on Horan against Heap; a similar challenge had earlier been made in the other goal box against Raso and ignored. Franch’s season high number of penalty saves would not be enough to deny Lloyd, however.
Their joy would last approximately five minutes, when a Klingenberg ball, off a tidy run from Sinclair, would find itself at the feet of Lussi, who would manage to play it through both Van Wyk and Poliana to the far corner, just out of the reach of Jane Campbell to score in the 39th minute. This was the first professional goal for Lussi, who has only recently joined the Thorns, opting to finish her education even after she was drafted.
The Dash would shoot a ball just over the the reach of the crossbar in the 44th, and that would be the end of the first half.
The second half was scrappier than the first, although a glance at the stat sheet might not convince you of that, as there were no more yellow cards in the game, and only one more foul called. The referee, Karen Abt, seemed to prefer to let the game open up and run itself for the most part. The Dash’s pass accuracy dropped by a full six percent, and their possession likewise dropped two. They did not have a single shot on frame in the second half.
In the 59th minute, Henry would be subbed in for Lussi, and seconds later, Klingeberg would hit the ball just over the bar. In the 69th, the Thorns might have seen another, had Campbell not pulled a phenomenal save out of her bag of tricks; one of her five during the game.
Long came in for Dagny inn the 75th minute. One of her first contributions was to send a ball over an almost entirely open net. At the end of seven very long minute of injury time, that was that.
Lussi shows remarkable composure and understanding for somebody who’s been with the Thorns for only a month or so. Full of compliments for her teammates and the level that Portland played, she mentioned that the players had been welcoming, off and on the pitch. Whilst she addressed five of her teammates’ by name, it was Sinclair who gained the most praise. “When you’re playing with Christine Sinclair, you have to step up and work hard with her.”
Carli Lloyd committed the majority of her fouls after her yellow. Whilst it can be argued that after the yellow, none of the challenges were card worthy; the accumulation of them, which equalled a full 60% of the Dash’s fouls, is bound to raise an eyebrow here and there. Excluding the first meeting of these two clubs, were Lloyd likewise committed 6 fouls, cumulating in a high kneed challenge which missed the ball and saw her sent off, the only other player to commit as many fouls in a game this season was Kayla Mills of Sky Blue, against FC Kansas City. Lloyd has managed to accumulate more red cards in the past calendar year than she previously has in her professional career. An interesting choice from a captain whose strength is leading by example, especially one who’s currently leading a team without a long term head coach.