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Challenge Cup Match Recap & Highlights: Portland Thorns 3 - 2 Angel City
Things didn't turn out as Portland expected - but Weaver's goal gave them the three points in the Challenge Cup
The Thorns went back to action on Wednesday night for the Challenge Cup. After losing in their debut in the 2023 edition of this competition, they hosted Angel City and secured their first three points in the Cup.
Coach Mike Norris heavily rotated and the Thorns proved once again that, given the opportunity, pretty much everybody in this team can score.
The Thorns were in control during the entire half and started creating good looks right from the beginning.
Canadian international Adriana Leon could’ve opened the counter in minute 10’ after Christine Sinclair sent a cross from the left but the former Manchester United player sent the ball way over the crossbar.
Michele Vasconcelos scored the only goal of the first half. The veteran struggled with an injury in the last few weeks and got the start in this game. So it was nice to see her returning to the field in such an emphatic way. After an excellent cross sent by Izzy D’Aquila from the right, Vasconcelos was faster than goalkeeper Brittany Isenhour who couldn’t clear that ball before the attacker headed that ball and sent it against the back of the net.
Angel City couldn’t hurt Portland in the first half and if it wasn’t for the rookie Alyssa Thompson and her solo effort, the visitors wouldn’t have had a single shot on target in the first 45 minutes.
Lots of tallies in the second half
The second half couldn’t have started any better, with Portland getting a free kick and Olivia Moultrie sending in a ball that Izzy D’Aquila got a toe to, making it 2-0 from that set piece.
After the the goal, Natalia Kuikka, Hannah Betfort, and Gabby Provenzano came in for Meaghan Klingenberg, Adriana Leon, and Emily Menges.
Despite Portland still controlling the game, Clarisse Le Bihan put one back in the 61’. The game went bananas after that with Izzy D’Aquila hitting the crossbar at one end of the field and immediately after that, Thompson went on a 1v1 against Shelby Hogan. The goalkeeper showed a lot of patience and concentration to stop her but fouled her on the rebound. VAR intervened and Angel City got a PK that Scottish international Claire Emslie put in the back of the net (66’).
At the 69’ Morgan Weaver entered the game for Vasconcelos. The forward became Portland’s main weapon of attack and almost helps Moultrie to score her brace. Too bad the youngster missed by little and sent the ball out of bounce.
Ten minutes later, Sophia Smith came in for D’Aquila but couldn’t impact the game much. It was Weaver though,who finished scoring, the winning game off of an assist from Christine Sinclair’s in second half stoppage time.
It was good to see many Thorns that usually don’t get minutes on the field. They did a good job overall and showed they are ready to defend Portland’s jersey on any given day.
It was a shame, though, that they conceded two goals in a five minute span. Shelby Hogan did well too but she had a lapse of judgment that can maybe be corrected with more playing time. Thank goodness Christine Sinclair and Morgan Weaver combined to get the winning goal in stoppage time in their usual fashion against Angel City.
After the game, Weaver thanked Hina Sugita and her “hip mobility class”. She said she was taking classes with her on how to move her body to score. “I’m only trying to play with joy,” she added.
The result keeps Portland alive in their tough Challenge Cup group, and they currently stand in second place with two games played.
The Thorns will be back on Saturday to play against OL Reign in Seattle at 5 p.m. PT.