The Portland Thorns knocked off one of their chief competitors for prime playoff positioning in today’s 3-2 road win over the Chicago Red Stars. The Thorns started the match off at a breakneck pace, notching two quick goals against the notoriously stingy Red Stars before the home side could get their bearings.
Australian international Haley Raso got things started in the 3rd minute when she latched on to a long ball over the top from Lindsey Horan. Outracing Christine Sinclair as well as the Red Stars back line, Raso was able to take a touch and poke the ball past Chicago keeper Alyssa Naeher for the opener.
Sinclair got a goal of her own in the 9th minute, extending the Thorns’ early lead to 2-0. The Thorns played down the right flank, finding Amandine Henry for the cross into the box. Henry hit a low ball toward Dagny Brynjarsdottir in the box, but the ball was behind the Thorns forward and she was only able to touch it back into the path of Sinclair. As she has done so many times before, Sinclair made the most of her opportunity and thumped the ball home, scoring her fifth of the season.
The dominating start — and the Thorns’ two goal lead — would not last for long.
After forcing a huge save from Adrinna Franch in the 12th minute, the Red Stars continued to press forward and were able to pull one back in the 15th. Franch was called into action by a floating shot from distance that threatened to pick out the back of the net, but instead was slapped off the bar by her save. The ball bounced off the woodwork and fell to Christen Press in front of goal, leaving the Thorns to look on as the USWNT striker put the ball away.
Chicago evened things up in the 38th minute after ramping up the pressure on the Thorns throughout the half. This time it was Sofia Huerta cleaning up in the Thorns box; the Red Stars forward pounced on a ball that squeezed loose of the pile, took a touch, and hammered home a close range shot past Franch to even up the scoreline at 2-2.
In the 54th minute, the Thorns retook the lead. Off a curled in free kick from Meghan Klingenberg, center back Emily Sonnett rose up and got a slight deflection on the ball, sending it skipping just inside the post as Naeher stood rooted to her line.
In the final minutes of the match, the Red Stars came within inches of evening up the scoreline for a second time as a nouncing ball in the Thorns box made its way to Huerta at the post, only for the Red Stars forward to wiff on awkwardly bouncing ball. The miss would leave the home side down 3-2, a scoreline that would not chance before the final whistle.
With the win, the Thorns move into second place in the NWSL and could end the weekend in striking distance of first if the NC Courage can not get a result in Seattle today. The Thorns play again on Wednesday, heading south to take on FC Kansas City to round out their road trip.