Portland Thorns

Thorns remain undefeated with 2-0 win over Red Stars

Thorns remain undefeated with 2-0 win over Red Stars

There were no magic second half equalizers this time around for the Red Stars. In fact, there were no goals at all. Portland held the Red Stars scoreless in a dominating performance to extend their club record undefeated steak to 10 matches.

The Thorns wasted little time getting on the board in this one. Six minutes into the match Christine Sinclair intercepted a Chicago dribble just feet from the goal, and in one smooth motion sent the ball to the back of the net. It was the third straight match the Canadian National Team star has scored a goal, and the second straight game in which her goal ended up being the eventual game winner.

With the early lead all the Thorns needed to do was finish with smart defense, and they did just that. Much like the last time these two met, the Thorns held the Red Stars at bay. For much of the game Chicago struggled to get in a real flow. When they did have a chance to walk through the door, the Portland backline and goalkeeper Michelle Betos would slam the door shut.

To their credit, the Chicago defense was strong as well. Both defenses force turnovers, and for much of the game it was a back and forth of possession changes.

When Portland eventually founds another chance to score, they took full advantage, Portland picked up a nice little cushion in the 25th minute, scoring goal No.2 two off a beautiful set piece. Tobin Heath sent the corner kick into the box where Amandine Henry was waiting for the header. Henry’s header ended up bouncing off Nadia Nadim’s head and into the net. Nadim was credited with the goal, Henry with the assist.

Speaking of Amandine Henry, the newest Thorn had quite the debut. She looked comfortable on the pitch, was not afraid to push the ball, and had a few key defensive stops to help Portland pick up the clean sheet. It was exactly what the Thorns needed to pick up the win.

Final Score: The Thorns remain undefeated and move into first place in the NWSL with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars:

Standout Thorns: To no one’s surprise Christine Sinclair had another standout game. Sinclair has been in rare form as of late, and it was no different tonight. She scored the games opening goal, marking her third straight match in which she has sent the ball home. It was also the second straight game in which she scored the first goal for the Thorns, both eventual game winners. She almost had a brace as well, but her second shot just skimmed the cross bar. Brace or not, it was another wonderful game for the Portland striker.

Next Up: The Thorns don’t have much time to rest before traveling to Florida to take on the Orlando Pride. Kickoff is set for 2:00pm on Sunday, June 26.  

World Cup breakdown: USWNT scored A LOT. (including one from Thorns' Lindsey Horan)

usatsi_12877066.jpg
usa today img.

World Cup breakdown: USWNT scored A LOT. (including one from Thorns' Lindsey Horan)

Lindsey Horan continues to make history wherever she goes. 

The 25-year-old midfielder from Golden, Colorado scored her first goal of her USWNT career in the team’s first game of the 2019 Women’s World Cup. 

This isn’t the first time Horan has made history: she became the first female soccer player to skip college and turn professional (Paris Saint-Germain in Paris, France).  

According to her bio on the U.S. Women’s National Team website, Horan explains, “One of the main reasons I made the choice I did was to be uncomfortable—I thought I’d get to my goal quicker that alternate route. I wanted to risk everything to make the National Team.”

Language barriers, missing her mom, you name it. The four years abroad were tough, but it made Horan tougher. 

[WATCH this video of her "23 Stories" on the USWNT website]

She joined the Thorns in 2016 and started all 15 games in her first season.

In 2015, Horan missed the USWNT roster. An absolute heart-breaker. But watching from the stands fueled a fire insider her and an undeniable urge to make the team.

And now, in 2019 and back in the country where her professional career kicked off, Horan finds herself representing the United States in the women’s World Cup and scoring her first goal in red, white, and blue. 

And it may just be a tad sweeter that the assist came from her Thorns teammate Tobin Heath.

Thorns demolish Red Stars for first win in new Providence Park

img_0348.jpg
Chris Burkhardt

Thorns demolish Red Stars for first win in new Providence Park

For the second day in a row, the newly renovated Providence Park held a home opener. On Saturday night it was the Portland Timbers, and on Sunday it was time for the Portland Thorns to take center stage. 

Despite missing nine players to the FIFA Women's World Cup, the Thorns still managed to put on a show. 

In her first start of the season, Midge Purce did not disappoint. Just three minutes into action Purce had a wide open shot at the net but nailed the crossbar. Despite the miss, you could tell she was in great form and she showed it the rest of way.

Purce would score twice in the first half, and if not for an offsides call, she would have easily scored a third. Both of Purce's goals came via great assists from Simone Charley. The dynamic Thorns duo was a sight to behold on Sunday, leading the home town team to an impressive victory over the red stars. 

Final Score: Portland Thorns 3 - Chicago Red Stars 0

No Place Like Home: 

After starting the season with six straight road matches, the Thorns finally returned to Portland to the roar of 19,461 fans - A new attendance record for a Thorns' home opener.

Said head coach Mark Parsons, "I didn’t dream about this because I didn’t think it was possible when I got into coaching. I’m proud of what this city, club, community does to continue to set the standard to support female athletes, the best players in the world."

Added Purce, "It was one of the most wonderful experiences I think that a soccer player can have and it was beautiful to see all that support."

"It was just a surreal moment, honestly, just being out here on the field and just having so many supporters out there, like words can't describe like how much that means," said Simon Charley. "To just be on the field and having them just give us energy and pick us up when we're down."

The Thorns are good anywhere they play, but put nearly 20,000 supporters behind them and they can be unstoppable.  
 
The New Dynamic Duo:

Speaking of Purce and Charley - they don't often play together, but you wouldn't know that by watching Sunday's match. The two looked like they had a decade of chemistry together, it was truly fun to watch.

Purce said of the connection with Charley, "that was honestly the first time I've played major minutes with Simone ever. And it was, I think the both of us were like 'oh this thing, this is working.' And I think when you have, you know, 11 people working really, really hard, it makes it easier on any partnership."

Talking to the media, Charley gave a lot of credit for the connection to Purce. "We talked about it this week in practice, just working on working off of each other and just building that relationship. Midge is a phenomenal communicator and [has been] telling me where I need to go and just working together and so yeah, shout out to her"

Some Love for the Ducks:
Former Oregon Duck Marissa Everett subbed in for Charley in the 78th minute. Seven minutes later she scored the first goal of her professional career.

Parsons said of Everett, "I thought the goal summed up what she’s about. She’s got great movement and she reads the game. You give her a chance to put the ball in the back of the net and she showed it against Sky Blue, first movement to drop the shoulder and then burst and almost apart from a great save. It’s great and you look at the undrafted players that come into this environment and look for an opportunity to develop and put their heads down."

She nearly had a brace to rival Purce's, but he put a shot just a little wide right in stoppage time. She looked great off the bench, and it was a great showing for the former Oregon star.

Next Up:

The Thorns return to action on the road on Saturday, June 15 against the North Carolina Courage. Kickoff is set for 4:45 p.m.
 

The Thorns are 2017 NWSL Champions

thorns_.jpeg
Portland Thorns FC

The Thorns are 2017 NWSL Champions

The Portland Thorns FC have brought another championship back to Rose City.

With their 1-0 victory over the North Carolina Courage, the Thorns have reclaimed their title as National Women’s Soccer League champions. The winning goal by midfielder Lindsey Horan in the 50th minute sealed the deal for the Thorns, taking home their second NWSL title in five years.

Orlando City Stadium saw an ugly and physically brutal 90 minutes this Saturday. Early hard fouls on both teams set the tone for a scrappy and choppy match. The Thorns were given two yellow cards in the first half and their overall aggressive play led to the Courage calling for two substitutions in the first 39 minutes due to injuries. 

Despite this setback, North Carolina offensively dominated the match with 16 shots on goal, including a crossbar shot from Courage midfielder Sam Mewis in the 14th minute. Portland lost the numbers game with only four shots on goal, but luckily one got in. Off a free kick at about midfield, Horan used her powerful right foot from just outside the the six yard box to get the ball in the back of the net. She was later named the match’s MVP.

This win also poses as the end of an era for Thorns players Amandine Henry and Nadia Nadim as they are leaving the NWSL to compete in Europe. Henry will join Olympique Lyon in the D1 Feminine League in France, while Nadim will compete in the FA Women’s Super League in England with Manchester City. Both players have been with Portland for two seasons and have cited financial reasons for their departure. 

There will be a NWSL Championship rally this Sunday, Oct. 15, at Providence Park around 7 pm after the Timbers game. 

The Thorns seek revenge in this weekend's NWSL Championship

screen_shot_2016-10-19_at_1.24.06_pm.png

The Thorns seek revenge in this weekend's NWSL Championship

By JOHN STUPAK
The Portland Thorns are playing for the NWSL Championship tomorrow.

For the first time since 2013, the Thorns will be playing for all the marbles against this year’s regular season Shield winners, the North Carolina Courage.

Portland dispatched the Orlando Pride on October 7, 4-1, to move on to the final test of the season in what has been a four-year mission to get back to the mountain top.

The Thorns will be facing a team that, minus the name, is almost exactly the same team that ousted Portland in last year’s playoffs. The North Carolina Courage were the Western New York Flash in 2016 before changing ownership and location.

It was Lynn Williams who broke Portland’s heart last year, scoring two goals in overtime that ousted the Thorns. The Flash eventually won the title and now seek to become repeat champions.

Williams will back on the field for the Courage and the Thorns will have to find some way to contain her, not an easy task given how explosive a scorer she has proven to be. Portland, however, has a top-notch defense behind defender Meghan Klingenberg and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

The Thorns should have every body and weapon available to them, sporting one of the deepest teams in the league. During last week’s semi-final game, Allie Long, Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Nadia Nadim all came off the bench for Portland, something that would seem unfathomable for other teams in a playoff game, given the kind of talent those players possess.

The key to victory for the Thorns is to get out to a solid start and jump ahead. The Thorns are at their best when they are aggressive and smell blood. However, they have been known for the occasional slow starts and lapses in play that have cost them victories in the past. If Portland jumps ahead early and keeps the pressure on, it will be awfully difficult for the Courage to counter an equal attack.

The Thorns couldn’t have asked for a better matchup to wipe away the disappointment of last October. What better way to exercise the ghosts of 2016 than to cast out the very demons responsible for haunting you since the end of last year.

On a more downbeat note, this will also be the last game for both Nadia Nadim and Amandine Henry, both of whom will be playing in Europe next year. What a fitting farewell a NWSL title would be for those two players who have played like champions during their time in Portland.

So get out your Thorns scarves, your good luck charms, and all the good vibes you can send towards Orlando. Take a break from all the politics and downer news in the world and settle in for what should be a fantastic match on Saturday afternoon. If the Thorns compete at the level they are capable of playing, then expect another championship in Soccer City, USA this weekend.

NWSL Championship Game

Portland Thorns vs. North Carolina Courage
1:30pm on the Lifetime channel.

Thorns headed back to NWSL Championship

Thorns headed back to NWSL Championship

The Portland Thorns FC will face the North Carolina Courage in the National Women’s Soccer League Championship this Saturday, Oct. 14, at Orlando City Stadium.

The Thorns earned a spot in the finals after defeating the Orlando Pride over the weekend. Goals by Amadine Henry, Emily Sonnett, Hayley Raso, and Christine Sinclair helped the Thorns reach a 4-1 victory over the Alex Morgan and Marta led Orlando team.

This is the Thorns’ fourth time in the NWSL postseason, making their second finals appearance. They won the inaugural NWSL Championship back in 2013.

What is bound to be an exciting game is also one full of history. Prior to relocating and rebranding, the Courage competed in the NWSL as the Western New York Flash for four seasons. The Thorns defeated the Flash in the inaugural championship in 2013 and lost to them in the semi-finals last season. The Thorns and the Courage have a 1-1-0 record this season.

This is also the fifth season of the NWSL, marking it as the longest running professional women’s soccer league in the US.

The Thorns finished second overall in the 10-team league with a record of 14-5-5. Led by all-time leading scorer and Portland Pilots legend Sinclair, the Thorns hope to take the championship crown for the second time on Saturday in Orlando.

Kick-off is at 1:30 p.m. PT (4:30 ET) and can be watched live on Lifetime.

Sinclair’s brace helps put an end to Portland’s two-game skid

Sinclair’s brace helps put an end to Portland’s two-game skid

Portland, OR – The Portland Thorns came into Wednesday’s matchup in dire need of a victory. Portland had lost two matches in a row, including a 3-1 loss at home to Sky Blue FC on June 17. Losses in Providence Park just don’t happen. Including the loss to Sky Blue, the Thorns came in with am impressive home record of 13-2-3 since the start of the 2016 season and looked to add another on to the win column with FC Kansas City in town.

FC Kansas City came in winless in its previous three matches (0-1-2), and with an overall road record of 1-3-1. For a team that is struggling, and is poor on the road to boot, Providence Park is the last place you want to be.

Portland fed off the home crowd, as is usual, and dominated from the start. Any danger FCKC posed was because the Thorns made little mental errors, but nothing large enough to bite them. Portland had the occasional misplayed ball here, the occasional poor pass there, but largely looked to be playing a game of cat and mouse.

Before Kansas City could really get in any kind of groove they found themselves playing from behind.

Just fifteen minutes into the match Allie Long put a shot on goal from about 10-yards out. Her shot was blocked, but it bounced off the post and right to the feet of a wide-open Christine Sinclair. The Captain did what she does best, and put the Thorns up 1-0.

From that point on it never felt like much of a match. The question wasn’t if the Thorns would win, it was how many goals would they score before the final whistle?

The answer: Three

Hayley Raso added a goal in the in the 32’, and Sinclair added another goal in the 75’.

This was a great bounce back game for Portland, and much needed as their next two matches will be on the road.

FINAL SCORE: Portland Thorns 3 – FC Kansas City 0

Notes: Hayley Raso scored the first goal of her NWSL career. A beautiful shot from beyond the right side of the box that curled around the defense and just over the hand of the goalkeeper. She joked postgame, calling the shot “lucky” but it was one of the more impressive goals I have seen. Sinclair looked to score her second goal of the match in the 71', but a controversial handball call negated it. She got her revenge four minutes later when she scored the team's third goal of the game.

Next Up: Portland travels up north to take on rival Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, July 1. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM at Memorial Stadium.

Sky Blue ends Portland's six-game unbeaten streak

screen_shot_2017-06-17_at_10.20.45_pm.png

Sky Blue ends Portland's six-game unbeaten streak

Generally speaking thirty seconds isn’t a lot of time, but on Saturday it was all Sky Blue FC needed to take control vs. Portland.  Sky Blue got the ball to start the match and went right down the field to score the opening goal less than a minute into play.

The goal happened so fast I was still in the middle of the obligatory “and we are underway” tweet. Even if you weren’t paying attention you knew a goal had been scored thanks to the collective gasp of thousands of Thorns fans that had just been punched in the gut.

But this is the Portland Thorns: A team unbeaten in its previous six matchups (3-0-3) and a team with a 13-1-3 record over its last 17 home games. Those two facts, coupled with the fact that this team is always a threat to score, made it feel like the equalizer was coming at any moment. Patient as the Thorns faithful were, that equalizer never came.

Finding that game-tying goal became even harder in the 70’ when Sky Blue’s Samantha Kerr broke away from the pack just past midfield and the only thing between her and the net was Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. Kerr shot the ball by a diving Franch and netted Sky Blue’s second goal of the match.

It looked like Portland had life, scoring a goal just seconds later, but an offside call would make sure the score remained 2-0 in favor of Sky Blue.

Portland tried as hard as it could as time ticked away, but as the old cliché goes, it was too little, too late.

Final Score: Portland Thorns1 – Sky Blue FC 3.

Next Up: Portland heads to the east coast to take on the Washington Spirit. Kickoff is set for 4:00 PM at Maryland Soccerplex.

Henry, Thorns dominate Breakers

img_1472.jpg

Henry, Thorns dominate Breakers

With the temperature hovering around 90 degrees Saturday night, the Portland Thorns returned home, desperately seeking a morale boost - and, perhaps, a victory.

It took them 37 seconds to lock both of those down, with an Own Goal from the Breakers, giving the Thorns all the cushion they would need en route a 2-0 win.

Amandine Henry would score for the Thorns four minutes later, cementing the Thorns' first victory in their last three matches, as they dominated - from literally the opening minute - the Boston Breakers, providing a bit of payback after the teams had a 2-2 draw last Friday in Boston. Henry's goal, her first in a Thorns uniform, came off a beautiful left-footed shot that just snuck past Breakers' goalkeeper Abby Smith into the left corner of the goal, igniting a raucous and semi-unfathomable reaction from the nearly 19,000 fans in attendance. 

"I think we've continued to get better each week," head coach Mark Parsons said after the game. "The results haven't always shown, but performance-wise, we've been really happy. We talked about attacking with purpose, and defending with urgency, and you saw that in the first ten minutes when we could have had three or four goals."

The Thorns were the aggressor early and often, finishing with 17 shots on goal - nearly three times that of the Breakers - and no player better exemplified that than Henry.

"Amandine is a player of the highest level," said Parsons. "Unfortunately, because of our position, sometimes it's hard to see the class and the quality that she has. She does a lot of important things for our team. I think (her goal) will give her the confidence to keep shooting."

She agrees.

"I feel very good," said Henry, unable to control her smile. "I'm very happy, and tonight, the most important thing is the three points we won. I'm so happy for my first goal here. I'm not used to shooting a lot, but when I shoot, I want to score."

For Portland (3-1-3 on the season), Saturday's win broke a two-game draw streak and could be the jump start they have been looking for as the season begins to ramp up.

"Boston is a really good team, and I thought the game (back in Boston last Friday) was one of the hardest," said Parsons."But it's lovely being back home, in this place. They love to play the game, and they know they needed to represent the community here, tonight, and go out and show what it's all about when we get the chance to play at home."

The Thorns play at Sky Blue FC next Saturday, before the return game of the home-and-home on Saturday, June 17th. 

Thorns get late goal, tie Reign 2-2

img_1392.jpg

Thorns get late goal, tie Reign 2-2

For nearly 93 minutes, the Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign showed why their rivalry is the most ferocious in all of the NWSL. Unfortunately, for both sides, they don't have any bragging rights to show for it. After Allie Long's header in the 81st minute, the teams would engage in 12 minutes of wild, back-and-forth action, with the Thorns squandering numerous opportunities before the teams settled for a 2-2 tie on Saturday night in front of nearly 16,000 fans at Providence Park.

"I had to fight to get up and get that ball. I didn't even know if it went in or not, but I was really happy when I saw it crossed the line," said Long. 

Allie's goal, in a random set of events, was the only goal truly kicked in by the Thorns; the team's first goal, which was credited to Hayley Ruso, went in after it ricocheted off the leg of Jessica Fishlock of the Reign, igniting a fever-pitch reaction from the stunned home crowd. Fishlock, a member of the Wales Olympic team, scored the match's first goal less than a minute in, which Thorns coach Mark Parsons said threw his squad off.

"When you concede in the first minute - and it was a great strike - but it was weird how it came about, and it shakes most teams. I thought we actually managed it well, but it took our foot off the gas a bit. We didn't have as much pressure on the ball that we would have liked to have. And we were a little cautious with our passing in the first half.

"In the second half, I felt like it was in third, fourth, fifth gear. We turned it on." 

Every time the Thorns threatened to steal momentum, however, the Reign went right back to work. No time was more of a blow than after Ruso's goal, when the Reign's Merritt Mathias scored less than three minutes later, grabbing a 2-1 halftime lead.

When Long tied the game late, and when the Thorns didn't back down from the rugged - and sometimes dirty - play of the Reign, it sent a message loud and clear to their coach.

"(The second half) started to feel like some of the good soccer we played last year when we were full throttle. I think it's going to take us another 2-3 games to kind of reach the stride we did in the second half, but that's just the way this league works. It's great that we saw that."

The tie drops the Thorns to 2-1-1 on the year, second place in the NWSL. The Reign move to 1-1-2 and are currently in 6th. The Thorns will play at FC Kansas City next Saturday, before returning home to face the Boston Breakers the following Friday.