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Recap: Portland Thorns draw 1-1 with Utah Royals thanks to Sinclair’s equalizer

They remain unbeaten in the Fall Series.

2020 NWSL Challenge Cup - Semifinals Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Portland Thorns FC took on Utah Royals in the Thorns’ second fall series match in the span of four days, playing them to a 1-1 draw.

The Thorns started the match slowly. Utah were pressing well and were very organized defensively. The Thorns’ center backs struggled to find open midfielders and often forced passes or looked long to Morgan Weaver and Sophia Smith.

In the ninth minute, Lindsey Horan dropped deep to receive the ball but was tracked by the Royals’ midfield. Horan’s attempted pass was intercepted and Utah broke forward quickly. Veronica Boquete played a ball over the top to Lo’eau La Bonta, who had her shot saved by Britt Eckerstrom. The ball landed at the feet of Amy Rodriguez and she tapped the ball into the net to give Utah a 1-0 lead.

The Thorns looked for a way into the match but the midfield was not as crisp and clean as their past outings. The majority of the danger created by the Thorns came from two players. The first was Horan making runs into the attacking third. She played dangerous passes and was a threat in the air. The second dangerous player was Sophia Smith. Smith was often isolated, but was able to cause problems for Utah with her pace and dribbling.

Portland’s best chance of the half was in the 33rd minute. Horan headed the ball back across the goal to Christine Sinclair. Sinclair hit the ball toward the net and it was saved by the Utah keeper. It looked to have crossed the line, but without video review the call on the field stood.

As the half wore on, the Thorns strung more passes together and started to dictate the tempo. But Utah dropped into a deep block and looked comfortable thwarting the Portland efforts.

Mark Parsons subbed on Simone Charley and Marissa Everette for Weaver and Smith. The Thorns continued to dominate possession in the second half but struggled to create opportunities.

Charley and Horan both began taking on players and playing with more urgency. In the 59th minute, it paid dividends. Horan picked up a loose ball at midfield and played a teasing ball across the box. Utah’s goalkeeper Abby Smith parried the ball to Charley, who collided with a defender. The ball fell to Sinclair and she fired it into the net to tie the match.

After the goal, the momentum swung in the Thorns’ favor. Utah struggled to string together passes and Portland pushed for a go-ahead goal.

The game became disjointed with both teams struggling to create. Tziarra King tried to take advantage of a Madison Pogarch slip in the box and launched a curling shot off the crossbar. Horan had a curling shot of her own that flew just wide of the goal in the 85th minute. Obviously, nothing came of the opportunities and it ended 1-1.

Portland will play the final game of their Fall Series schedule on Oct. 10 against OL Reign. Kickoff is at 5:00 p.m. (Pacific).