THorns

Thorns FC loses 2nd-straight game, drop to losing record

THorns

Heading into this week, it had been 308 days since Portland Thorns FC had lost a game.

Now, Portland has lost two games in four days.

Thorns FC (1-2-0) fell 2-1 at Orlando to the Pride (2-0-1) on Wednesday for Portland's second-consecutive loss. 

Alex Morgan scored off a volley during the 22nd minute to take a 1-0 lead with an assist from Taylor Kornieck.

Portland responded quickly with Simone Charley scoring during the 43rd minute on an assist from Natalia Kuikka. It was the first regular-season goal for Charley and the first assist for Kuikka.

Being tied lasted through halftime and not much longer, as Portland allowed a goal during the 46th minute kicked into the back of the net by Sydney Leroux off a failed clearance. 

Just looking at the stat sheet, it would appear Portland should have won the game, outshooting Orlando 21-12 and maintaining 55.3% possession, but Thorns FC never found the equalizer.

"I thought we had chances to tie the game," said Becky Sauerbrunn. "I thought we were close on a couple of them, little things off in the final third but we were getting into the final third.

"That's just a focus point for us, how to break down teams, especially when they pack it in."

She added Portland may have rushed some crosses inside the final third and needs to be more patient breaking down the defense to get a better chance. 

After the match, Charley described the team attempting so many crosses (26 in total) was because Portland "tries to play our game" and crosses are a crucial element of their offensive identity, rather than it being because of the Pride's defense.

 

"That's just a part of the Thorns identity," she said. "That's what we do, we play our game and we try to impose our will on others."

That mentality works a lot better when winning rather than falling behind early, allowing the opponent to pack the defensive third and park the bus. 

"We haven't chased many games in the last six, eight, ten months," said Parsons. "We have had great success getting ahead and getting on the front foot."

Parsons has always been a process-over-results coach, as evidenced by him saying he would be saying the same things can be learned from the game regardless of if Portland won or lost. 

Still, the Thorns FC coach was proud of the intensity brought to the match despite the short turnaround and cross-country flight, but admitted his team showed some "mental fatigue" in the most crucial moments. 

The loss begins a two-game losing streak with both games occurring after the franchise's announcement that head coach Mark Parsons will leave the franchise at the conclusion of the season. However, he had told the team of the news before a 5-0 NWSL regular-season opening victory. 

Charley did not seem too concerned despite the consecutive disappointing results.

"It's a marathon, not a sprint so we just got to take it game-by-game."

Next, Portland will host Gotham FC in a rematch of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup Championship where the Thorns won in penalty kicks earlier this month. 

The kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 30.