Recap & Highlights: Portland Thorns 1, Angel City 5
On the historic Decision Day in the NWSL, the Thorns lost badly against Angel City and as a result, they handed the NWSL Shield over to San Diego.
Whoever predicted this score deserves an award — but we think this result wasn’t even in the wildest dreams of any Angel City fan. They had their playoff hopes resting on this match: a win wasn’t going to cut it but they also needed a combination of results to get into the top six spots.
Since interim coach Becki Tweed took over, this Californian team has lost only one game and they certainly closed their season in a very emphatic way.
But this is a Portland Thorns blog — so enough of talking about the opponent. The Thorns looked lost and it was worrisome to see them struggling so much in all the lines of the field at this point of the season when they should be peaking. Their best soccer was produced in the first 15 minutes of the game and after that, the hosts did whatever they wanted with the visitors. Hina Sugita gave the Thorns literally one minute of joy but after that, the Californians reminded Portland who was in charge.
It was certainly painful to watch.
11’ Morgan Weaver shoots from the left side of the box but is saved by Angelina Anderson in the bottom right corner.
12’ Crystal Dunn shoots from the right side of the box and Anderson saves in the top right corner.
16’ BELLA MAKES A SAVE! The goalkeeper saves Scarlett Camberos shot from outside the box.
17’ Another save by Bixby! This time she denies Claire Emslie left footed shot from the center of the box.
29’ Bella holds the fort again! Claire Emslie right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved.
36’ Angel City scores. Mary Alice Vignola shoots from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner and beats Bella
38’ Angel City scores another. This time is Scarlett Camberos with a header.
45+2’ Thorns’ chance! Crystal Dunn left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
45+3’ First Half ends: Angel City 2, Portland Thorns 0.
By this point, seeing the Thorns playing like this was worrisome, but the score was reversible. Nonetheless, the hosts weren’t going to let that happen.
46’ Substitutions: Rocky Rodríguez replaces Olivia Moultrie and Kelli Hubly replaces Becky Sauerbrunn.
47’ Savannah McCaskill scores a third for Angel City. A right-footed shot from the left side of the six-yard box to the bottom left corner goes past Bella.
51’ Angel City scores again. This time it’s Sydney Leroux with a bicycle kick (are you kidding me?).
53’ Hina Sugita tries to bring some joy with a left-footed shot from the center of the box but it is saved by Anderson.
55’ Thorns’ chance. Rocky Rodríguez left footed shot from outside the box goes high and wide.
61’ Substitution: Sophia Smith replaces Crystal Dunn.
62’ More substitutions: Hannah Betfort replaces Morgan Weaver due to injury and Reyna Reyes replaces Meghan Klingenberg.
79’ GOAL THORNS! Portland pulls one back through Hina Sugita who with a left-footed shot from the center of the box beats Anderson.
80’ Angel City scores again. Sugita’s international teammate Jun Endo said “game off” and tallies a left-footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner.
90+2’ Hannah Betfort shoots from the left side of the box but is blocked.
90+4’ Hannah Betfort tries again but Anderson makes another save.
90+7’ FINAL RESULT: Angel City 5, Portland Thorns 1.
We can’t believe the Thorns shot themselves in the foot again just like they did in 2022, but this time was worse. Last season, they needed to win against Gotham —who by the way finished last that year — to get the NWSL Shield and couldn’t do it. They drew and therefore handed it to Seattle.
This year, they did the same but worse because they finished their season with a terrible beating, the worst the club has had after that 0-6 at home against the North Carolina Courage in 2019.
Fans say nobody cares about the Shield, and that the Championship is what matters. But when you think about it, letting the Shield slip away like that two years in a row is such a waste of what the team has done during the entire season!
For this club, trophies matter no matter what kind they are and more so when it’s in their hands to get them. They let the Shield roll by them twice at the end of this year — they could’ve secured it in that game against San Diego at home — but failed to do so.
You maybe can point to a player or two that didn’t have a good game at all, but the team’s performance was poor overall. You don’t lose by such a wide margin just for one player or two. Nonetheless, it’s time for Mike Norris to make the hard decisions and see who’s gonna be reliable for playoffs or not, no matter the name in the back of the shirt.
Anyway, the season is over and now it’s time to defend the title. Due to Portland finishing second, they will get a bye for the first round in playoffs and will host a semifinal at home. The opponent will be either the Courage or Gotham. We know the postseason is a different beast and seeing how the Thorns have finished their year – not just against Angel City – we can’t help but wonder if the team and the coach will have what it takes to go all in and get their fourth star.
Last but not least: we hope Morgan Weaver is OK and ready for November 5th.