The Portland Thorns bounced back from Thursday night’s loss with a 2-0 victory over the Washington Spirit in front of 12,474 fans at Jeld-Wen field. The Thorns got goals from Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan and a shut out from Karina LeBlanc to stay at the top of the NWSL standings.
Washington was without goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris who has played every minute of every match due to a sore knee. Harris sustained the initial injury against the Boston Breakers in the season opener according to reports from the Spirit. She then took a knock against the Seattle Reign on Thursday night and failed a last minute fitness test prior to Sunday’s match. Chantel Jones made her NWSL debut in Harris’ place.
Midfielder Allie Long collected a ball on the left side of the midfield before sending a cross over to Sinclair. Sinclair settled it and sent a left-footed shot past Jones into the left side netting to give the Thorns a 1-0 lead in the 41st minute.
The goal came after several quality opportunities for both sides.
Portland had a chance to take an early advantage when Meleana Shim and Morgan combined on the right side. Morgan toed the end line and slotted a cross back for Becky Edwards, but her shot was right at Jones.
Morgan and Sinclair each had opportunities to put the home side in front, the best of which came in the 21st minute. Sinclair put a cross on a streaking Morgan’s head but Morgan put her header just over the crossbar.
Washington, who looked to build off their first win of 2013, had two golden opportunities to take the lead. In the 31st minute, Ali Krieger took a pass out on the right flank from Diana Matheson and blasted a shot on goal that forced Karina LeBlanc to tip it just over the crossbar.
Six minutes later, Krieger returned the favor, putting the ball on Matheson’s foot for a shot on goal. The Canadian midfielder turned and fired her shot over the crossbar.
Krieger was neutralized by Long in the second half which limited the Spirit’s offensive opportunities.
Portland had a chance to double their lead in the 85th minute when Angie Kerr put a free kick into the box which slipped through to Sinclair. Sinclair found Kerr but Jones was able to grab the ball before it got onto Kerr’s foot.
The Thorns did double their lead when Morgan notched her team-leading fourth goal of the season in the 86th minute, sealing the win. Courtney Wetzel intercepted a Spirit free kick before sending Morgan on a run downfield where she beat Robyn Gayle before slotting her shot into the lower left corner.
Both clubs will be back in action on May 25. The Thorns will take on regional rival Seattle in the clubs’ second meeting and the first at Starfire Stadium. Washington will also stay on the road and travel back east where they’ll take on the Boston Breakers in the third meeting.
PORTLAND: Karina LeBlanc; Marian Dougherty, Rachel Buehler, Kathryn Williamson, Nikki Marshall, Becky Edwards, Allie Long (Jessica Shufelt, 90), Meleana Shim (Angie Kerr, 79), Nikki Washington (Courtney Wetzel, 71), Christine Sinclair (capt.), Alex Morgan
Substitutes Not Used: Adelaide Gay, Jazmyne Avant, Elizabeth Guess, Danielle Foxhoven
WASHINGTON: Chantel Jones, Domenica Hodak, Tori Huster, Robyn Gayle, Ali Krieger, Julia Roberts, Lori Lindsey (capt.), Diana Matheson, Ingrid Wells (Jasmyne Spencer, 71), Tiffany McCarty (Caroline Miller, 65), Stephanie Ochs
Substitutes Not Used: Ashlyn Harris, Candace Chapman, Kika Toulouse, Holly King, Colleen Williams