In a physical match between the Portland Thorns and Western New York Flash this afternoon neither team was able to find the back of the net, finishing with a score of 0-0. The crowd of over 7,600 at Salhen's Stadium in Rochester, NY were subjected to a back and forth match with few shots on goal and plenty of fouls.
The Thorns had a chance to move into a home playoff berth in this game and into striking distance of first place FC Kansas City, who lost 1-0 to the Boston Breakers today. Instead they remain behind the Flash in the standings thanks to their better goal differential and kept pace with Sky Blue FC, who tied the Chicago Red Stars.
The first half of the game was, to be frank, a mess for the Thorns.
The first notable action of the game came in the 25' when an slight touch from Marian Dougherty on a ball rolling back to Karina LeBlanc gifted an indirect free kick tin the box to the Flash when the Thorns' keeper picked up the ball. Nothing came of the ensuing shot, other than a few heart palpitations for the Thorns fans watching the game, but the moment was emblematic of the Thorns' play for the half.
The Flash controlled the ball with few exceptions in the first half, pulling apart the Thorns' midfield at will and cycling the ball around the outside of the 18 yard box at will. Incursions into the attacking half were rare for the Thorns, as the midfield seemed incapable of linking up with he defense, the forwards, or each other.
The second half was a much more cohesive effort for the Thorns as the midfield began to solidify and their passes started to find each other. After another slow start, the Thorns began to create some chances as they stepped up the pressure on the Flash, causing several high, dangerous turnovers.
Despite their newfound ability to link up in the center of the pitch, the Thorns were unable to actually get much on target on the night. The best opportunity of the night came in the 56' as Angie Kerr carried the ball down the right flank, beating two players before squaring the ball into the six yard box where Allie Long was waiting. Unfortunately, Long could not control the ball and, despite an open net, could not get the shot off.
From there on the Thorns continued to look dangerous, but could not muster another real scoring chance. The defense continued to shut down the Flash attack and the introduction of Tina Ellertson midway through the half gave the Thorns a player capable of competing with Flash forward Abbie Wambach in the air.
When the final whistle blew neither team seemed truly dissappointed with the 0-0 score line. The Thorns needed an improved showing from their defense and will take some measure of encouragement from their performance, as well as the second half showing from their midfielders.