After dominating the first 35 minutes of the match, a costly miscommunication between Chicago’s Abby Erceg and Karina LeBlanc turned the match, propelling Portland to a 2-1 victory over the Red Stars.
The match, which was the first televised on Fox Sports 1 this season, changed course after the collision between the Red Stars’ internationals.
The play began with Thorns midfielder Tobin Heath taking a shot from outside the penalty area, however the shot was blocked by Erceg. What should have been an easy clear for Erceg, LeBlanc slid from behind to cover up the ball. The end result saw both players on the turf, with the ball trickling to the feet of Portland’s all-time leading scorer Allie Long. Long collected the loose ball and tapped it in for the equalizer.
With the match leveled at halftime, the Thorns continued their offensive pressure and got the go ahead goal from Long midway in the second half. Receiving a pass from midfielder Sinead Farrely at the edge of the box, Long fired a low, hard shot into the bottom left corner of the net. It was Long’s ninth goal of the season and her third goal in the last three matches.
Entering the match unbeaten in their last six matches, Chicago opened the match strong but was unable to find the back of the net. They finally broke through on a goal from Alyssa Mautz. Just before the half-hour mark, Mautz ran up the right side and fired a shot disguised as a cross that took Thorns goalkeeper Michelle Betos by surprise for the day’s first goal.
Chicago nearly doubled the lead minutes later on a combination between Christen Press and Lori Chalupny. Beginning with a long ball over the top by the Red Stars captain Chalupny, Press fired a one-timer from the edge of the box that bounced off the left upright and off the line.
Despite lacking possession in the second half, Chicago nearly found an equalizer only to be denied by Betos. First, Vanessa DiBernardo fired a free-kick from the left and connected with outside back Taryn Hemmings, whose hard shot forced a strong save from Betos. Moments later Chalupny and Press connected again, with Press cutting to her right and firing a right-footed rocket on frame the was tipped over in net by the Portland goalkeeper.
The result breaks an impressive streak between the two clubs, as they had drawn in their last five matchups. The win for Portland pushes them closer to the final playoff spot in the NWSL standings while Chicago’s loss is only their second of the season.
Portland Thorns FC (6-6-4, 22 pts) vs. Chicago Red Stars (7-2-6, 27 pts)
August 9, 2015 – Providence Park; Portland, Ore.
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Chicago Red Stars 1 0 1
Portland Thorns FC 1 1 2
CHI: Alyssa Mautz- 29′
POR: Allie Long- 38′
POR: Allie Long- 69′
POR: GK Michelle Betos, D Clare Polkinghorne, D Kat Williamson (Rachel Van Hollebeke, 85), D Emily Menges, M McCall Zerboni, M Sinead Farrelly, M Kaylyn Kyle, M Tobin Heath, M Allie Long, F Jodie Taylor (Lianne Sanderson, 60), F Christine Sinclair
CHI: GK Karina LeBlanc, D Abby Erceg, D Julie Johnston, D Arin Gilliland, D Taryn Hemmings, M Lori Chalupny, M Danielle Colaprico (Rachel Quon, 71), M Vanessa DiBernardo, M Alyssa Mautz (Jen Hoy, 74), F Christen Press, F Melissa Tancredi (Sofia Huerta, 65)