Portland Thorns FC Match Story: Blue No More

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Portland dominates Sky Blue, 3-1

In the past couple of weeks, several Thorns players have stated that the team's goal isn't just to make the playoffs, it's to host. Portland took a big step in that direction on Wednesday night, when the team won in convincing fashion over an ailing Sky Blue FC team in front of 13,769 at JELD-WEN Field.

The win put Portland (10-4-4, 34 pts) in sole possession of second place.

A Portland own-goal off Nikki Marshall's head put the Thorns down 1-0 early in the match, but the Thorns responded with goals from Alex Morgan, Mana Shim, and Allie Long for the 3-1 win. The scoring output reflects an offense that continues to click after the arrival of Tobin Heath. Portland has scored six goals in its last two games.

While other goals may have been more crucial during that stretch, none was as beautiful as Long's golazo in the 73rd minute of Wednesday's game. On a throw-in in the Thorns' offensive third, Heath found an unmarked Long at the top left corner of the box. Long took two touches and, in her loping style, fired a shot toward the far post from about 17 yards out. It seemed like it took the ball 20 minutes to get there. It also seemed like the shot was destined to veer wide right. But at the last minute, the ball changed its mind, and hooking inwards on a miracle trajectory back into the net. SBFC keeper Jill Loyden barely even bothered to move.

"Tobin Heath had [the throw-in] and I saw a space in front of me so I checked into the space and, before she threw it, I saw that Jill Loyden was off her line," Long said after the game. "My intention was to open up my body and hit it far post-a little bit lower-but it worked out perfectly."

That was the dessert. The meat and taters had come earlier. At 36', with the score 1-0, Shim showed a vision and touch that belied her rookie status. Spotting Morgan off on one of her left-side runs about 20 yards upfield, Shim delivered a perfectly weighted ball to the speedy forward. Morgan's pace plus the touch of the pass allowed her to leave three defenders in her dust. She didn't waste the opportunity. Morgan faked a shot, and Loyden took the bait, leaning to her right. Morgan then easily sidestepped her and booted to ball to the far back post to equalize, 1-1.

"Typically Sky Blue plays a high line," Morgan explained in the post-game presser. "So knowing that, we at least tried to get in behind them a little bit, get behind the outside back and center back. I think we were successful at times, and fortunately that time I finished off the goal."

It should be noted, by the way, that the play began when Rachel Buehler intercepted a pass from Sky Blue stalwart Christie Rampone to midfielder Taylor Lytle, slipping the ball to Shim while charging on a run up the middle of the pitch. That type of defensive play-both earning possession and also making aggressive forward runs-contributed to Portland's dominance for much of the night. Out backs Nikki Marshall and Marian Dougherty especially stretched Sky Blue's backline with wave after wave of overlapping runs.

When they weren't busy trying to score themselves, the Portland defenders were delivering pinpoint service from long-distance. Shim's go-ahead goal began way back in the defensive third, when Dougherty lofted a gorgeous pass from her right back position over Sky Blue's back line, right to Morgan. As the defense closed, Morgan fired, so hard that Loyden was able to stop the shot but not catch it. The ball banged off her belly, Morgan gathered it and shot again, and Shim plucked the rebound out of the air and one-timed it into the net, making it 2-1, Thorns.

It was a lead the Thorns would hold until Long's tally gave them a 2-goal lead, the same differential that came back to bite the Thorns in the ass in their match against the Red Stars. This time, the defense held, and in fact gave up few quality chances at all. Sky Blue only managed two shots on goal in the second half (to Portland's seven) after scrounging up two SOG in the first half as well (to Portland's six). Sky Blue's biggest threat occurred at 54'. With the score 1-1, Sky Blue's Monica Ocampo broke free in the middle of her offensive third for a 1-v-1 against Thorns Keeper Karina LeBlanc. LeBlanc charged off her line, forcing Ocampo to shoot early. The Thorns keeper managed to stop the blast of a shot...with her face.

The game was not without its dark side. Heath picked up her fourth yellow card in four games-her only games as a Thorn-as did Morgan. Heath's fouls have come mainly on stupidly executed tackles; Morgan's on stupidly timed displays of frustration. NWSL rules dictate that a player earning five yellow cards is automatically suspended for the next match. This is not a great situation going into a hardcore playoff run.

"I didn't even know I had four yellow cards until someone told me," Morgan said after the match. "I don't think my mindset can change really, but obviously I can't pick up those stupid fouls I have these past two weeks."

Parlow Cone agreed. "I think at times we are a little bit overzealous in areas of the field where we don't need to foul, or we're committing fouls that are too harsh for the moment and aren't needed," she said. "...[Heath's] a great player, and so is Alex. They've just got to be smart, moving forward."

Yes, they do. This Sunday's home match (the final regular season Thorns home game of the year) against first-place FC Kansas City is huge in terms of playoff placement. If the Thorns want to host from here out, they need three points from this match in order to jump two points ahead of the Blues and wrest away the top of the table.

GOALS

1

2

F

Sky Blue FC (9-6-4)

1

0

1

Portland (10-4-4)

1

2

3

SCORING SUMMARY

Goal

Time

Team

GoalScorer

Assists

Note

1

18

Sky Blue FC

Nikki Marshall

OG

2

37

Portland

Alex Morgan

Meleana Shim

3

65

Portland

Meleana Shim

4

73

Portland

Allie Long

Tobin Heath

CAUTIONS AND EJECTIONS

Time

Team

##

Player

Card

Reason

30

Portland

17

Tobin Heath

Yellow Card

Reckless Foul

56

Portland

13

Alex Morgan

Yellow Card

Persistent Infringement

87

Sky Blue FC

2

Courtney Goodson

Yellow Card

Reckless Foul

SUBSTITUTIONS

Time Team OUT IN

38 Sky Blue FC #9 Danesha Adams #18 Lindsi Lisonbee-Cutshall

57 Sky Blue FC #7 Nayeli Rangel #11 Lisa De Vanna

77 Portland #6 Meleana Shim #20 Courtney Wetzel

83 Sky Blue FC #8 Monica Ocampo #25 Maddie Thompson

85 Portland #2 Marian Dougherty #15 Casey Ramirez


SHOTS

1

2

F

Sky Blue FC

7

5

12

Portland

12

13

25

SHOTS ON GOAL

1

2

F

Sky Blue FC

2

2

4

Portland

6

7

13

SAVES

1

2

F

Sky Blue FC

5

5

10

Portland

2

2

4

CORNER KICKS

1

2

F

Sky Blue FC

2

1

3

Portland

0

3

3

OFFSIDES

1

2

F

Sky Blue FC

0

0

0

Portland

2

1

3

FOULS

1

2

F

Sky Blue FC

2

5

7

Portland

6

1

7

Officials:
Referee:
Margaret Domka

Asst. Referee: Deleana Quan; Farhad Dadkho

Fourth Official: Andrew Brooks

Attendance: 13769


Sky Blue FC Player Stats

##

3

Name(*forstarters)

Christie Rampone*

Min

90

G

0

A

0

Sh

0

SOG

0

YC

0

RC

0

CK

0

Off

0

FC

0

FS

0

16

Sophie Schmidt*

90

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

6

Taylor Lytle*

90

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

5

Kendall Johnson*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

Courtney Goodson*

90

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

0

23

Katy Freels*

90

0

0

4

1

0

0

0

0

2

1

21

Jillian Loyden*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

10

Brittany Bock*

90

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

8

Monica Ocampo*

83

0

0

4

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

7

Nayeli Rangel*

57

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

2

3

18

Lindsi Lisonbee-Cutshall

52

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

9

Danesha Adams*

38

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

1

11

Lisa De Vanna

33

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

25

Maddie Thompson

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

TEAM TOTAL 990 0 0 12 4 1 0 3 0 7 7


Sky Blue FC Goalkeeper Stats

## Name (*forstarters)

Min

GA

Sh

SOG

Sv

D

21 Jillian Loyden*

90

3

24

12

9

L

TEAM TOTAL

90

3

24

12

9




PortlandPlayerStats

##

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

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

7

Nikki Marshall*

90

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

5

Kathryn Williamson*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

9

Danielle Foxhoven*

90

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

13

Alex Morgan*

90

1

0

8

6

1

0

0

0

3

1

16

Rachel Buehler*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

10

Allie Long*

90

1

0

3

2

0

0

0

0

1

1

17

Tobin Heath*

90

0

1

5

3

1

0

3

0

2

4

2

Marian Dougherty*

85

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6

Meleana Shim*

77

1

1

5

2

0

0

0

0

0

1

20

Courtney Wetzel

13

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

15

Casey Ramirez

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

TEAM TOTAL

990

3

2

25

13

2

0

3

3

7

7

Portland Goalkeeper Stats

## Name(*forstarters)

Min

GA

Sh

SOG

Sv

D

1 Karina LeBlanc*

90

1

12

4

4

W

TEAM TOTAL

90

1

12

4

4

X
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