Tobin Heath notched two assists as Portland Thorns FC came back to beat the Orlando Pride 2-1 Sunday night at Providence Park in front of 16,073 fans. Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Lindsey Horan scored for Portland after Orlando had taken the lead through Stephanie Catley.
Orlando scored its first-ever NWSL goal in the 12th minute when Catley’s low cross from a free kick found the sidenetting untouched. Not only was it the club’s first goal in the league, but also the first time an expansion club has scored, and taken a lead, in its first game.
Portland responded quickly, equalizing in the 25th minute. A deep cross into the box landed at the feet of Heath, who put a low ball across the face of goal that Brynjarsdottir blasted into the roof of the net, beating Ashlyn Harris and tallying her first goal in the NWSL.
The Thorns would secure the win late on, with Allie Long chipping a ball forward to Heath, who unselfishly laid it off to Horan. With time and space in the box, Horan kept her cool to slot the shot past Harris for a 2-1 lead in the 81st minute. The goal is Horan’s first for the Thorns and in the NWSL.
Portland may have come away with a bigger victory if Long hadn’t been misjudged offside on a header that would have broken the deadlock in the 51st minute. Replays showed that Long was clearly onside when the ball was played, making a run in behind the defense to meet Heath’s cross. On the other side, Kaylyn Kyle put a chance over the bar from three yards after Lianne Sanderson won a header on a corner kick.
The hard-fought match saw 22 fouls between the two clubs. Orlando outshot Portland 15-11, but only put six on target to the Thorns’ five. Goalkeeper Michelle Betos made 5 saves, including twice stopping one-on-one opportunities for the Pride. Harris made three saves.
Four former Thorns FC players started for the Pride in the club’s debut in the NWSL. Catley, Morgan, Kyle, and Becky Edwards have all played for Portland over the course of the league’s three previous seasons. Sanderson made an appearance off the bench.
Coming up, Portland embarks on a gruesome four-game stretch of road games, beginning with trip to FC Kansas City on Saturday, April 23. Kickoff is set for 5:30 pm.
Updates to follow...