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.