Match Story: Portland Thorns FC vs. Boston Breakers

USA TODAY Sports

Thorns lose in a tale of two halves

We had to know Sydney Leroux was going to feast on this iffy backline like a rabid beast. We had to know that Heather O'Reilly's speed and service was going to help her. We had to know the Breakers were going to score.

We just didn't know we wouldn't be able to answer.

But, after the Leroux-led Boston Breakers sauntered into Jeld-Wen Field on Saturday night, there it was on the scoreboard: Boston Breakers 2, Portland Thorns --the Portland Thorns, who possess the dreamiest pair of attackers in the world; the Portland Thorns, about whom the rest of the league was jealous because of their allocation snag of said pair; the Portland Thorns, who everyone predicted would score goals in copious bunches-- 0.

The loss extended Portland's winless streak to three games. It also marked the third game in a row in which the Thorns failed to score.

Leroux struck twice --both times assisted by O'Reilly-- at 11' and at 39' to provide both of Boston's goals. As many times as Leroux raced past the defense, it could have been worse.

"You just can't give her chances like that, having her turn and run at our defense," Thorns head coach Cindy Parlow Cone said after the game, in an unusually brief press conference. "She's a world-class forward. She's going to put those away nine times out of 10."

The Thorns had entered the game with much to gain. Three points would have allowed them to keep pace with Sky Blue FC in the battle for the top of the league table. Instead, with the loss, Portland dropped to 8-4-2. 26 points, and second place. Sky Blue (9-3-3) topped the Washington Spirit, 1-0 on Saturday, and with 30 points, stretched the difference between the two teams to four points.

The Thorns may technically remain in second place, but on Saturday, they looked like a last place team, unable to conjure more than one shot on goal --to Boston's six-- in the first half.

For whatever reason, the Thorns came out yet again appearing mortifyingly unprepared. The same litany of maladies we've seen all season reared their heads from the start: A midfield that appeared completely disinterested in maintaining possession of the ball. An offense that lacked cohesion and effort. A backline that pulled off brilliant feats...followed by disastrous lapses.

That was the first half. The second featured much more urgency, much more cohesion, and many more scoring chances.

It also, for the first time in many games, featured Christine Sinclair on the frontline with world-class partner Alex Morgan.

"I found us connecting more than we have in the past," Sinclair said after the game of the two. "Playing up top for the first time in a while, being close to Alex. Everytime we received the ball we were looking for each other --that's something that really hasn't happened so far this year."

As would be expected from a team down 2-0 and an offense swimming in pudding, Parlow Cone upped the offensive ante even more, switching Sinclair with attack-minded Mana Shim back in the midfield, next to the sharpshooting Tiffany Weimer. With numbers pushed forward from the beginning in what at times looked like a 3-4-4, the Thorns' scrambling change in focus produced immediate results, as the Sinclair and Morgan combined to threaten Boston's defensive third several times.

At 57' Parlow Cone subbed in Angie Kerr for midfielder Nikki Washington; at 68' the coach pulled defender Nikki Marshall for supersub forward Danielle Foxhoven. The attack-minded subs and formation change produced resulted in a flurry of shots and several good looks from the Thorns. For the most part, the Thorns dominated the final 47 minutes.

"As an attacking player, it's when you're not creating chances that you start to worry." Sinclair said. "The chances we created in the second half gave us a lot of hope for the upcoming games."

The improvement clearly appeared to be a consequence of tactics, but Parlow Cone said after the match it came from somewhere else. "It was just a mentality shift," she said "We've been talking about it for the past few weeks, and this was the first time we saw it. They finally came together and realized that if we we press together and build the attack together, we can do this."

Whatever the reason, the Thorns need to ride what little momentum they have. The fourth-place Western New York Flash arrive at Jeld-Wen on Sunday, toting the world's leading international goal-scorer of all time, Abby Wambach, along with 23 points of their own.

GOALS

1

2

F

Boston 5-5-4)

2

0

2

Portland 8-4-2)

0

0

0

SCORING SUMMARY

Goal

Time

Team

GoalScorer

Assists

Note

1

11

Boston

Sydney Leroux

Heather O'Reilly


2

39

Boston

Sydney Leroux

Heather O'Reilly


CAUTIONS AND EJECTIONS

Time

Team

##

Player

Card

Reason

13

Boston

14

Kia McNeill

Yellow Card

Reckless Foul

35

Portland

12

Christine Sinclair

Yellow Card

Reckless Foul

74

Portland

9

Danielle Foxhoven

Yellow Card

Reckless Foul

SUBSTITUTIONS

Time Team OUT IN

57 Portland #21 Nikki Washington #8 Angie Kerr

68 Portland #7 Nikki Marshall #9 Danielle Foxhoven

69 Boston #7 Rhian Wilkinson #18 Maddy Evans

87 Boston #20 Mariah Nogueira #25 Jo Dragotta

90 Boston #10 Lianne Sanderson #12 Katie Schoepfer

SHOTS

1

2

F

Boston

9

7

16

Portland

6

14

20

SHOTS ON GOAL

1

2

F

Boston

6

2

8

Portland

1

6

7

SAVES

1

2

F

Boston

1

6

7

Portland

4

2

6

CORNER KICKS

1

2

F

Boston

2

2

4

Portland

1

2

3

OFFSIDES

1

2

F

Boston

2

1

3

Portland

1

2

3

FOULS

1

2

F

Boston

4

3

7

Portland

6

6

12

Officials:

Referee: Robert Sibiga

Asst. Referee: Andrew Brooks; Ronald Lagraff

Fourth Official: Farhad Dadkho

Attendance: 12436

Boston Player Stats

##

9

Name(*forstarters)

Heather O'Reilly*

Min

90

G

0

A

2

Sh

4

SOG

2

YC

0

RC

0

CK

0

Off

2

FC

0

FS

0

1

Alyssa Naeher*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

8

Julie King*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

Sydney Leroux*

90

2

0

7

4

0

0

0

0

0

1

11

Joanna Lohman*

90

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

4

Cat Whitehill*

90

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

14

Kia McNeill*

90

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

3

0

5

Jazmyne Avant*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

10

Lianne Sanderson*

89

0

0

2

1

0

0

4

0

2

3

20

Mariah Nogueira*

87

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

7

Rhian Wilkinson*

69

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

2

18

Maddy Evans

21

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

25

Jo Dragotta

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

12

Katie Schoepfer

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

TEAM TOTAL 990 2 2 16 8 1 0 4 3 7 11

Boston Goalkeeper Stats

## Name(*forstarters)


Min

GA

Sh

SOG

Sv

D






1 Alyssa Naeher*


90

0

20

7

7

W






TEAM TOTAL


90

0

20

7

7







Portland Player Stats













##

Name(*forstarters)

Min

G

A

Sh

SOG

YC

RC

CK

Off

FC

FS

1

Karina LeBlanc*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

12

Christine Sinclair*

90

0

0

2

1

1

0

0

1

1

0

16

Rachel Buehler*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

6

Meleana Shim*

90

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

1

1

5

Kathryn Williamson*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

19

Tiffany Weimer*

90

0

0

5

2

0

0

0

0

1

0

20

Courtney Wetzel*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

10

Allie Long*

90

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

13

Alex Morgan*

90

0

0

8

3

0

0

0

2

1

2

7

Nikki Marshall*

68

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

21

Nikki Washington*

57

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

8

Angie Kerr

33

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

9

Danielle Foxhoven

22

0

0

1

0

1

0

1

0

2

2


TEAMTOTAL

990

0

0

20

7

2

0

3

3

12

6

PortlandGoalkeeperStats







## Name (*forstarters)

Min

GA

Sh

SOG

Sv

D

1 Karina LeBlanc*

90

2

16

8

6

L

TEAMTOTAL

90

2

16

8

6


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