Match Recap & Highlights: Portland Thorns 1-1 Houston Dash
The Portland Thorns came back from the international break to play in Providence Park against Houston, and in the end the Dash proved to be a worthy opponent.
The Portland Thorns drew 1-1 with the Houston Dash at home on Friday night. Crystal Dunn scored in the ninth minute to put Portland ahead, but Maria Sánchez scored in the 24th minute to draw the visitors level. The game would end with the score knotted at one goal apiece, with the points shared.
This was an electrifying match between two teams that have very dynamic forwards. Despite the FIFA break, just a few of the usual starters were not in the starting XI. Among them was Christine Sinclair, who was unavailable, and Hina Sugita, and Natalia Kuikka, both available off the bench.
That meant that right back Reyna Reyes got her first starting of her professional career and her debut for Portland.
The Thorns started strong, with Sophia Smith assisting Crystal Dunn for the first goal of the night. The home team dominated the first part of the first half but the Dash woke up in the second half and got the equalizer through María Sánchez. First Reyes and then Kelli Hubly couldn’t stop “La Bombi” who finished with a low diagonal shot, beating Bella Bixby.
The second half brought Natu to the game - it was a halftime substitution - and then Sugita and Rocky Rodríguez joined the fun. And even though the Thorns started the second half strongly, by the hour of the game things were still even.
With 30 minutes to go, both teams got their fair share of opportunities to get the winning goal but none were able to score.
2’ CHANCE. Smith opened up the ball to Michele Vasconcelos. She then sent a cross to Olivia Moultrie, who was coming on the far post. Moultrie couldn’t connect but it was a good team build-up.
9’ GOAL! Sophia goes to the end line and sends a back pass to Crystal Dunn. She beat Jane Campbell with a one-touch shot.
21’ First real chance for Houston. María Sánchez sent a cross from the left that connected with Diana Ordóñez. She headed the ball but it went high.
23’ A long ball to Ebony Salmon left the forward in a 1v1 with Bella Bixby. The goalkeeper waited and stopped the shot.
24’ Houston goal. Sánchez beat Kelli Hubly, who slid to block the shot, and with a diagonal ball that beat Bixby too.
32’ Great through ball by Moultrie to Smith. She almost scored the second for Portland but the ball hit the crossbar.
34’ This time Weaver was the one with the trough ball to Sophia but Campbell blocked her before she could finish. The ball fell to Dunn whose shot went high.
41’ Vasconcelos and Weaver pressed Sophie Schmidt inside the box which gives the opportunity to Weaver to regain possession and shoot. Too bad the ball went high again.
45+3’ Good block by Hubly to stop Salmon.
It wasn’t the best of debuts for Reyes. Therefore, the coach decided to put Kuikka in for the next 45 minutes.
Portland looked better at the beginning of the second half but slowly, Houston started to regain more possession.
63’ Substitutions: Hina Sugita and Rocky Rodríguez came in for Vasconcelos and Dunn
67’ Great cross by Weaver but it couldn’t connect with anyone in the 6-yard box.
73’ Another great cross by Weaver but with the same outcome as before.
79’ Hannah Betfort and Izzy D’Aquila came into the match for Smith and Moultrie.
80’ Becky Sauerbrunn gave the ball away to Salmon. She got inside the box and finished. Bixby made a save but then she couldn’t keep ahold of the ball and the Dash scored. Nonetheless, it was called off due to a foul on the goalkeeper.
85’ Rocky got her opportunity to get the winning goal but her shot went high.
It was an entertaining game and more so for the neutral viewer. It was good to see the players creating lots of opportunities and some faces we don’t often see in the starting XI. Nonetheless, it was a little frustrating to see them not being able to finish more of those chances.
Of course, they were coming from the international break and that surely played a part in the disruption of the great chemistry we saw in the first two weeks. Meghan Klingenberg summed it up pretty well when she said postgame: “There were periods of the game when we lost ourselves a little bit.”
Speaking about the attack, of course, Sophia Smith contributed to the only goal Portland scored tonight even if she didn’t tally. Nonetheless, another player that had a great match was Morgan Weaver. She’s really showing a different kind of game than the one we saw from her last year and all that off-season training is really paying off.
Coming up next…
Portland will hit the road again and will head to California, to visit San Diego on Wednesday 19 to start their participation in the fourth edition of the Challenge Cup. The game will kick off at 7 PM PT.