The Portland Thorns entered Independence Day on a tw0-game losing streak and two spots out of fourth place.The Thorns looked to be in control as Portland took a two-goal advantage into the locker room after 45 minutes of play.
The play of Chicago Red Stars midfielder Christen Press was the difference in the second half as the Red Stars secured a 2-2 come-from-behind draw.
In the 76th minute, Press scored her first NWSL goal, as the midfielder found her way behind Portland’s backline. After receiving a through ball from midfielder Emily Van Egmond. Press dribbled around Thorns goalkeeper Nadine Angerer and scored from close range.
Just six minutes later, Press cemented Chicago’s comeback with a noteworthy equalizer to complete her brace. Press intercepted an errant header at the top of the box and chipped her strike past the outstretched hands of Angerer and into the upper 90.
The midfielder’s second half heroics were enough for a draw for the Red Stars but left Portland wanting more after the Thorns outshot Chicago 15-12. Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made eight saves to help her team to the draw in her first meeting with her former club.
In search of a long awaited victory, Thorns head coach Paul Riley shuffled his starting XI, selecting a diamond of central midfielders in Allie Long, Sinead Farrelly, Veronica Boquete and newly arrived Tobin Heath. Sarah Huffman slotted onto the backline, replacing Emily Menges for the first time this season and, perhaps the biggest change was captain Christine Sinclair coming off the bench.
Despite the final result, the Thorns began the match in the proverbial driver’s seat controlling tempo and possession.
The exceptional start culminated in the 24th minute when forward Jessica McDonald scored the opening goal. McDonald, the Thorns leading goalscorer, found herself on the receiving end of Allie Long’s corner kick and finished with a left-footed strike for her ninth goal of the season.
The Thorns continued to showcase their prowess on the attack in the first half as defender Sarah Huffman scored on yet another set-piece in the 39th minute.
Huffman trapped teammate Verónica Boquete’s attempt at goal and placed a strike of her own past LeBlanc.
In the final 45 minutes, Portland returned to the form they’ve shown of late and unraveled defensively to lose their two-goal lead.
With the remaining games and available playoff spots dwindling down, Paul Riley’s club will be looking ahead to next Wednesday’s road trip rematch against the Red Stars for a much needed victory.
POR: Jessica McDonald (9) – 24’
POR: Sarah Huffman (1) – 39’
CRS: Christen Press (1) – 76’
CRS: Christen Press (2) – 82’
CRS – Karina LeBlanc, Abby Erceg, Rachel Quon, Julie Johnston, Taryn Hemmings (Kecia Morway 83), Vanessa DiBernardo, Emily Van Egmond, Lori Chalupny, Adrianna Leon (Zakiya Bywaters 46), Christen Press, Jen Hoy (Melissa Tancredi 71)
POR – Nadine Angerer, Sarah Huffman, Nikki Marshall, Rachel Van Hollebeke, Stephanie Catley, Tobin Heath, (Emily Menges 85), Sinead Farrelly (Christine Sinclair 46), Veronica Boquete, Allie Long, Jessica McDonald, Alex Morgan (Rebecca Moros 70)
POR – Sarah Huffman (Caution) 62’