On a rainy home opener, the Portland Thorns came out on top over the Orlando Pride in a fast-paced and physical soccer game.
Tobin Heath made her return to the Thorns bench but did not see minutes. Angela Salem, who was expected to be unavailable, was recalled to the team from college in order to fill out the bench, which was still not full.
The Thorns opened the match on top, attacking quickly down the right side through Purce’s runs forward. Orlando were lined up in a back three that left their flanks relatively open. Chioma Ubogogu and Carson Pickett were taking turns to mark her but Ubogogu was busy being Orlando’s main attacking threat, which left Purce one on one with Pickett, who she repeatedly torched to put good crosses in. Sonnett and Horan, who dropped back in possession, were starting attacks from the backline, bypassing the midfield with excellent long passing.
The best chance of the early game came the 16th minute: the Thorns recycled a ball from a corner into a crowded box, Orlando couldn’t clear and Tyler Lussi took a shot on the volley, requiring Ashlyn Harris to make a good save down to her right.
Orlando’s goal came against the run of play in the 20th minute: Emily Sonnett was fouled by Alex Morgan and tried to take a quick restart to Horan but Christine Nairn picked her pocket and played in Ubogogu behind an unprepared Thorns defense for an easy goal.
It only took the Thorns 8 minutes to answer back: after another quick attack to move the ball up the field, Christine Sinclair Orlando’s defense failed to close Horan down at the top of the box and she had time to curl a shot off the post past an outstretched Harris.
In the 40th minute the Thorns went ahead through a simple Christine Sinclair attack. Kristen Edmonds slipped on the wet turf and failed to collect a long diagonal to the left wing for Klingenberg. Kling played in Horan who sent in a cross which Sinclair tapped in.
The Thorns came out of halftime looking dominant, creating chances and snuffing the life out of Orlando’s attack. The Thorns midfield, which had mostly been bypassed in the first half, began to assert its dominance, with Boureille, Horan and Sinclair combining well to create openings for the forwards.
In the 50th minute Sinclair sent Weber in with a beautifully weighted ball over the top of Orlando’s defense. Weber held up the ball well and played in Lussi, who miskicked it straight to the onrushing Sinclair, who forced a good save from Harris from distance.
In the 60th minute Cernogorcevic made her Thorns debut as the team swapped out both their forwards, with Onumonu also coming on. Onumonu was immediately involved, forcing Harris into a close range save in the 62nd minute from a Purce cross.
Chances for Cernogorcevic and Onumonu came thick and fast after that with the Thorns looking utterly dominant. Onumonu blazed a chance over the bar and Cernogorcevic failed to connect on a volley 7 yards from goal. Christine Nairn’s long shooting offered some of the only offense Orlando was capable of mustering.
Orlando applied some pressure in the final ten minutes but failed to test Franch. Alex Morgan picked off a poor pass from Sonnett and looked to have a clear run at goal but Horan recovered to make the tackle. The Thorns closed down the match for the win to continue their excellent home opener form and their unbeaten streak against the Orlando Pride.