Portland Thorns Turn On the Attack in the Final Minutes to Beat FC Kansas City 3-1 in Home Opener

William Conwell

The Thorns opened their 2014 home-stand in style, beating FCKC 3-1.

The Portland Thorns were held close by visiting FC Kansas City until a second half offensive explosion saw them come away the 3-1 winners of their home opener. Allie Long had a goal and an assist to compliment Jessica McDonald's brace as the Thorns' attack started to click for the first time this season.

The Thorns opened the scoring in the 44' when Long got the ball on the right flank and drove inside, beating one FCKC defender and cutting by another only to have her legs taken out from under her, giving head referee Katja Koroleva no choice but to point to the spot. After converting a penalty in last week's 1-1 tie against Sky Blue FC, Long stepped up to the spot confidently and slotted the ball into the corner of the net, putting the Thorns up 1-0 going into the half.

After the break, Kansas City clawed their way back into the game as the Thorns struggled to clear the ball under high pressure, getting pinned back for long stretches of the match. The pressure finally paid off in the 56' when a Kansas City player burst down the Thorn's right flank and into the box, only to be taken down by an errant tackle from a Thorns defender. The league's leading scorer in 2013, Lauren Holiday, took the penalty, nailing it past Nadine Angerer and into the back of the net to level the score.

KC kept up the pressure as they continued pushing forward, looking for the goal that would give them their first win of the season. FCKC's attack forced Angerer into several big saves, including one rocket shot that she barely tipped over the bar, but she was equal to each attempt on goal.

The final ten minutes of the match saw the Thorns make a push of their own back down the field, spurred on by the fresh legs and creative passing of Meleana Shim. In the 84', the Thorns were able to pull back into the lead thanks to some beautiful combination play across the top of the FCKC box. Long ran on to a short pass from Chirstine Sinclair at the top of the arch and held off one defender before slipping the ball to Jessica McDonald wide on the right.  With space to operate, McDonald took a touch before burying a hard shot past Nicole Barnhart and into the back of the net.

It was McDonald again who put the final nail in FCKC's coffin when, in the 88', she streaked between two Kansas City defenders, running onto a beautifully weighted pass from Shim. With Barnhart rushing out close her down, McDonald chipped the ball over the KC keeper with her first touch, sending it gracefully looping into the goal and making the match 3-1, where it would stay until the final whistle.

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