Lindsey Horan’s diving header gave Portland the lead but the Thorns could not hold on for all three points as Samantha Staab equalized for the Spirit.
Portland coach Mark Parsons emphasized the importance of controlling the ball while in possession and having a controlled attack in his interview after the match against Chicago. This approach was evident in the first half against the Spirit.
Lindsey Horan was orchestrating the Thorns in possession and the team started to control the match around the 20th minute as Portland tried to play balls in between or behind the Spirit’s backline. Horan consistently tried to chip balls behind the centerbacks to release Morgan Weaver and Tyler Lussi.
The Thorns were most successful in the wide areas. Horan drifted to the left and played crosses into the box that looked dangerous. One of these crosses found Lussi wide open but her effort sailed over the crossbar.
Portland was organized in defense and pinned the Washington Spirit in their defensive third. The forwards pressed high and the midfield and defense recovered the ball and launched counter-attacks. Lussi, Horan and Christine Sinclair all had decent scoring opportunities but the Thorns still lacked that finishing touch.
The Spirit came to life in the 40th minute as Kumi Yokoyama forced Bella Bixby into multiple quality saves. Ashley Hatch and Rose Lavelle were subbed on at the start of the second half but Portland continued to control possession.
Lavelle would begin to create in midfield and the Spirit were able to find control and composure to play out of the Thorns press: something they couldn’t do in the first half. There was a threatening moment from the Spirit as Hatch was released by Ashley Sanchez, but Bixby, again, came up with a massive save.
Then Horan was fouled by the Spirit’s Andi Sullivan, giving away a dangerous free kick in the 69th minute. Meghan Klingenberg played the ball into the box and Horan launched herself at the ball heading it off the crossbar and into the back of the net giving the Thorns a 1-0 lead.
The Spirit would get on the scoresheet in the 77th minute from a corner. Sanchez back heeled the ball to Samantha Staab who looped her header into the back of the net, equalizing less than ten minutes after the opener.
Horan drove a low shot at goal that looked like it would result in the winner, but Aubrey Bledsoe parried the shot wide with only two minutes left in regulation.
The Thorns’ final match of the group stage is on Monday, July 13. Portland kickoff against OL Reign at 9:30 am (PT).