Match Recap & Highlights: Portland Thorns 1-2 Houston Dash
The Thorns unbeaten streak is over.
The Portland Thorns fell 2-1 on the road in Houston, suffering their first regular season defeat of 2023 at the hands of the Dash. Rocky Rodriguez scored in the first half for Portland, but Houston stormed back and notched a come-from-behind win over the Thorns via goals from Joelle Anderson and Ebony Salmon.
Portland traveled to the always-humid Houston to face the home team for the second time this season. After the draw they got against the Dash in Providence Park, and the two draws they’ve got in the last two games, Portland went to Texas with the goal of getting three points again.
The starting XI was a little different from the one that played against NC Courage last week. Captain Christine Sinclair, Emily Menges, and Hina Sugita were on the bench while Rocky Rodríguez, Meaghan Nally, and Olivia Moultrie got the start.
Portland started dominating the ball and trying to create chances while Houston tried to steal the ball and send long passes to Ebony Salmon. The dynamic changed once Michelle Alozie got into the field.
12’ Crystal Dunn scores but is called off due to offside.
15’ Clever ball by Weaver to Moultrie but Allysha Chapman intercepted it timely.
16’ Chapman hits Moultrie in the face with her boot and she gets a black eye.
28’ Houston is forced to make a substitution due to injury: Barbara Olivieri leaves the field and Michelle Alozie is subbed in.
31’ Chance for Portland. Crystal Dunn shoots but Jane Campbell saves it.
32’ A corner for the Thorns creates the chance for Sophia to head the ball but Campbell grabs it.
33' ROCKY’S GOAL! 1-0 Portland! Moultrie assisted her with a pass from outside the box. The Costarican stayed onside, received the ball, and finished it.
45+3’ Chance for Portland! Moultrie sends a service to the box, Weaver heads it but it goes high.
Nothing much happened at the beginning of the second half while both teams tried to find space to attack. Houston’s substitute Alozie proved key in the second half and created lots of problems for The Thorns.
57’ Substitution: Rocky is out after a knock on her knee and Portland is down one player momentarily, before Rocky ultimately had to be subbed out.
59’ Houston equalizes. Joelle Anderson scores after a cross by Salmon, and one that Bella Bixby can’t contain. The defense couldn’t react in time to clear that ball either.
60’ Christine Sinclair is subbed in immediately after the goal.
61’ Sophia Smith shoots but Campbell is well-positioned and stops it.
62’ Natalia Kuikka sends a long pass to Dunn. She shoots and hits the post but the whole play is called off due to offside.
65’ Weaver carries the ball and draws some defenders to her and then crosses it but Smith can’t get there in time.
69’ Dunn sends a cross or a shot (?) that kisses the crossbar.
70’ Substitutions: Taylor Porter enters for Sam Coffey, and Adriana Leon for Weaver.
71’ Houston scores and takes the lead. Salmon tallies after beating Nally. Bixby gets a piece of it but not enough to stop the shot.
76’ Substitutions: Reyna Reyes enters for Meghan Klingenberg, and Izzy D’Aquila enters for Moultrie.
78’ Sinclair shoots and misses by little. Too bad Smith couldn’t get to the far post to push the ball in.
81’ Leon scores — but is again called off due to offside.
89’ Nally gets a yellow card.
90+7’ María Sánchez beats Nally and Bixby was very high – near midfield – and Sánchez beats her too. She would have gotten an open net if Nally wouldn’t have recovered the ball after that.
Maybe this Houston Dash might have not been the one Portland faced more than a month ago. The absence of Diana Ordóñez made them look as if they lost some bite — but they still managed to score some goals and get the win.
Rocky had a good game and it was sad to see her go out due to injury. After she finally got the start, you could see the frustration on her face when going out of the field. Houston took its chances, scoring the equalizer when the Thorns were one woman down due to Rocky’s injury and then again when they were not well positioned defensively. The Thorns suffered this game when their runners couldn’t stay onside, and two of their goals were called off for that reason.
At this point of the season, it will be good for the coach to rotate more. Last season, coach Rhian Wilkinson proved the Thorns have a deep bench and that pretty much anybody can impact a game, no matter who they were playing against.
But that is not what we are seeing this year so far and that’s a shame. Rocky has barely played this season compared to last year and she proved she can make an impact when given the opportunity. Another example is Moultrie, who has played more than the Costa Rican but has been mostly a bench player. The 17-year-old has been brilliant in the last two games and is screaming for more playing time.
The Thorns might have lost just this match, but they have been showing a lack of ideas in the last three. As a result of this loss, they have lost their unbeaten streak and accumulated two draws and one loss in their last three games. Not good enough for the defending champions.
Let’s see how they respond on Sunday, May 21, when they play the Chicago Red Stars, a team that is at the bottom of the table.