It looked like it would be a rough semifinal match for the Portland Thorns. The were playing on the road, on a hot afternoon, to Kansas City, a team who has been especially good at home this season--and it certainly didn't improve the situation when they gave up an early goal.
In the 12th minute, the Thorns gave Rookie of the Year Erika Tymrak too much space at the top of the 18-yard box. Her shot to the far post bounced just in front of, and under, a diving Karina LeBlanc. Just like that, the Thorns had to play catch-up.
After initially looking like they would fall to pieces, Portland responded fairly well to the goal, maintaining a little more possession of the ball and getting a couple dangerous chances. In the 25th minute though, Kansas City got the ball on a quick break, precisely where they've given the Thorns the most trouble. Lauren Holiday was able to carry the ball from the midfield well into the Thorns defensive half without much pressure and then put the ball out wide for Merritt Mathias. Her cross found the head of Melissa Henderson, who managed to send the ball arching over LeBlanc .
The Thorns pulled one back before the half, and ultimately stole the momentum for most of the remainder of the match. A sloppy pass from Becky Sauerbrunn found Angie Kerr instead of a Blues teammates. After a little give and go with Christine Sinclair, Kerr played the ball across the box and to the feet of Tobin Heath, who fired a low shot past Nicole Barnhart.
The Thorns went into halftime down, but with the hope that they could get another. Which, of course, they did in the 65th minute, with a great cross from Nikki Marshall, followed by a dummy from Sinclair, finished off just outside the 6-yard box by 2nd-half sub Tiffany Weimer.
Even though they lost Heath to injury just a few minutes later after Desiree Scott stomped on her foot, the Thorns pressed for a third. They weren't able to get it before regulation was over, but in the first half extra time, Allie Long got on the end of a pass from Weimer, getting her shot off just before sliding to the turf under pressure. Her partially blind effort slipped under Barnhart at the far post.
Portland had to weather a bit of a storm for the rest of the game as Kansas City pushed for the equalizer to force penalty kicks, but they held on for win. They'll now face the winner of tonight's semifinal between Sky Blue FC and the Western New York Flash. They'll host the final if Sky Blue can pull off an upset.