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MATCH RECAP: Portland Thorns FC 4, Washington Spirit 1

Thorns remain only unbeaten team in NWSL after handing Spirit first loss of 2016

Christine Sinclair returned to the starting lineup for Portland Thorns FC and contributed an assist in a 4-1 win over the Washington Spirit
Christine Sinclair returned to the starting lineup for Portland Thorns FC and contributed an assist in a 4-1 win over the Washington Spirit
Jeremiah Braeback

A goal and an assist from Tobin Heath powered Portland Thorns FC to a dominant 4-1 over the Washington Spirit Saturday night in front of 15,823 fans at Providence Park. With the win, Portland remains the only unbeaten side in the NWSL after handing the Spirit their first loss of 2016.

First half goals from midfielders Lindsey Horan and Heath were helped by a Spirit own goal before Washington scored through Joanna Lohman in the second half to make the score 3-1. The Thorns would respond through forward to Meg Morris to finish off the game as Portland’s most recent addition to the squad scored her first goal for her new club.

Horan opened the scoring in the 27th minute, heading into an open net off a corner kick as Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé was caught out of position. The goal was Horan’s second at Providence Park and third of the season. Four minutes later, Portland had a 2-0 lead thanks to a mistake from Spirit defender Alyssa Kleiner and Labbé. Forward Christine Sinclair, making her first start of the season played a pass into the box that Labbé blasted off of Kleiner and into her own net. Kleiner, traded to Washington in the offseason from the Thorns, could do nothing to get out of the way. Heath made it 3-0 seconds before halftime after being set up by Sinclair. The Canadian international spotted Heath’s run behind the Spirit defense and played a perfect through-ball with the outside of her foot. Though Labbé got a hand on Heath’s initial chipped shot, Heath followed up to tap the ball into the net for a 3-0 halftime lead.

The Spirit came out quickly in the second half, but had to wait until the 55th minute for their goal. Forward Crystal Dunn worked enough space on the right side to whip in a cross and Lohman was able to sneak in front of Emily Sonnett to flick a header to the far post for her second in two games.

Portland responded late on through second half substitute Morris who pounced on a ball that slipped through the Washington defense and finished one-on-one against Labbé with a low shot to the far right post to cap a 4-1 win.

Health tallied her league-leading fifth assist on Horan’s opener, while Horan moves into a three-way tie for most goals in the NWSL along with Diana Matheson and Christen Press. Horan does extend her lead at the top of the cautions table after receiving her fourth yellow of the season.

With the result, the Thorns remain the only unbeaten team in the NWSL and set a new club record for longest unbeaten run. Portland pushes their unbeaten run to six games to open the 2016 season, with only two of those being at home. Both games at Providence Park have ended in wins, with the Rose City club outscoring opponents 6-2.

Portland finished the match with a healthy 15-9 lead in shots, holding the Spirit to just two shots on target. Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch made one save to Labbé’s five.

After facing Washington for the second time in three weeks, the Thorns face a similar scenario next weekend as they welcome the Seattle Reign for the second of four meetings this year.