Thorns Win Home Opener
On Sunday, more than 16,000 local soccer fans turned up to Jeld-Wen field to help Thorns FC overcome the Seattle Reign in Portland’s NWSL home opener.
After a disappointing loss in Kansas City last weekend, the Thorns were hoping to show the home fans the results of the work they have been putting in. As a whole week 2 was much cleaner than week 1, and the Thorns came in a system of high pressure and direct play forward.
Defender Marian Dougherty got her head on a free kick just before half to give portland a 1-0 lead going into the break. NIkki Washington had delivered a long free kick from near half, Dougherty read the flight of the ball well and was able to get a flick that put the ball past Seattle goalkeeper Michelle Betos (Hope Solo is out recovering from wrist surgery.)
For the most part the Thorns played a high pressure system, that was very direct on the attack. The ball would move wide in the hopes of releasing either the wide midfielder or the outside back. If this didnt work, the ball would circulate, until the other side could be released, or a long ball would come over the top in an attempt to take advantage of Alex Morgan’s pace. Each time the seattle defense would push too close to the half line, Portland would look to release Morgan in behind. This tactic helped contribute to Portlands 7 corner kicks, several of which were dangerous.
In the 52nd minute, Christine Sinclair found Alex Morgan with a perfectly weighted ball to put her behind the Seattle defense. I briefly thought Alex’s first touch had put her into a bad shooting angle, but her calm left footed finish gave the keeper very little chance to keep it out. 2-0
Seattle however had some fight left in them. With about 15 minutes to go, the Reign’s welsh number 10 Jessica Fishlock came onto a half volley that had sat up nicely for her. She drove the ball cleanly from the top of the 18 past the diving Karina LeBlanc. 2-1
On the whole, Portland had looked quite a bit better than the previous weekend in Kansas City. Defensively we looked more organized with less wholes, and going forward the team had more purpose. It may have been a bit direct at times, but that is to be expected when your center forward shows the kind of pace that Morgan brings when getting behind an opposing back line
Next Match, away to Chicago Red Stars on April 27th, 5pm kickoff.
the game will be streaming live on http://www.portlandtimbers.com/thornsfc