The Portland Thorns started their preseason off right on Sunday, securing a 2-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars in the 2019 Thorns Spring Invitational.
Although both sides were missing players, the match started out with lineups that looked close to their preferred XI. Through the first half of play the Thorns looked like the more match-ready side, effectively bottling up the Red Stars’ attacking chances before hitting out on the breakthrough their three-forward front. Despite the presence of 2018 Golden Boot winner Sam Kerr, the Thorns’ starters were largely the more dangerous looking group in the early going.
The Thorns capitalized on their early attacking actions in the 6th minute when a corner kick curled into the Chicago box by Tobin Heath was knocked down and fell to the feet of Tyler Lussi for a simple, side-footed shot that put the home side up 1-0.
While the Thorns controlled much of the match in the first half, the Red Stars came out strong in the second and quickly put their mark on the game.
In the 54th minute, Chicago struck back. Off a corner of their own, the Red Stars sent a floating ball in to the box that connected with the head of defender Kayla Sharples before looping inside the far post and finding the back of the net.
The Thorns were able to reassert themselves on the match with the 61st minute move to bring on Dagny Brynjardottir in the midfield for her first appearance since rejoining the Thorns over the offseason.
It was another substitute, however, who would provide the spark for the Thorns’ second goal of the match in the 76th minute. After receiving the ball wide on the right flank, Mallory Weber turned and picked out a well weighted through ball for a scything run down the pitch from Tobin Heath. After receiving the ball on the run, Heath dribbled into the box, backing down her defender before clipping a square ball to Christine Sinclair on the far side of the pitch. Sinclair brought down the ball and shot on the volley, picking out the far post and giving Red Stars keeper Alyssa Naeher no chance at the save as she put the Thorns up 2-1.
The Thorns play again on Wednesday when they will take on the U.S. U-23 USWNT, then again on Saturday when they will close out their spring invitational against the Seattle Reign. The Thorns open their regular season on the road on Sunday, April 14th when they will face off against the Orlando Pride.