The Portland Thorns were dealt a painful 3-2 loss by the Houston Dash after the Thorns came back from two goals down to equalize. Rachel Daly scored the winner.
Before this match, teams across the NWSL stopped play in the sixth minute to come together in solidarity. The NWSL Players Association released a statement during the first demonstration which can be viewed in the thread below:
This is not business as usual. #NoMoreSilence pic.twitter.com/9GKkZW09g3— NWSLPA (@nwsl_players) October 6, 2021
The Thorns players also released a collective statement that resulted in general manager Gavin Wilkinson being put on administrative leave from the Thorns, effective immediately.
The Thorns and Dash kicked off in Providence Park around one hour later. Portland started the match well looking to find their forwards in stride behind the Houston back line. Sophia Smith got down the left and crossed. The ball deflected to Christine Sinclair at the top of the box. The Canadian’s shot was tame and saved by Jane Campbell.
In the sixth minute, both teams stopped play to gather in the center circle to stand in solidarity and participate in the league-wide protest outlined in the NWSLPA’s statement.
October 7, 2021
Morgan Weaver forced Campbell into a diving save two minutes later. Natalia Kuikka played a lofted vertical ball over the top. Weaver got on the end of it and headed it back across goal and Campbell got a hand to it.
Houston caused Portland problems with their press and turned the Thorns over repeatedly and it wouldn’t be long until the Dash capitalized. In the 17th minute, Shea Groom drove at the Portland defense. She cut inside and the ball fell to Nichelle Prince. Prince struck from the top of the box and Becky Sauerbrunn turned away from the ball to block the shot. The ball struck Sauerbrunn’s elbow and the referee called a penalty. Rachel Daly stepped up and converted from the spot.
The Dash made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute. The Dash played a free kick into the box. Lindsey Horan headed it away but it was quickly played back into the box. Kristie Mewis beat Bella Bixby to the ball and poked it into the back of the net.
Portland responded well. Within seven minutes, the Thorns had cut the lead in half. Horan curled a low cross around the Houston defense and into stride for Sinclair, who fired it into the goal.
Our captain. #BAONPDX pic.twitter.com/JXpmhMlaSh— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) October 7, 2021
A wave of Portland pressure ensued. Horan played Smith down the left. The forward was held up and was forced to shoot from a tight angle. Her shot went wide of the goal. Then Horan danced down the flank and cut a pass back to the top of the box. Sinclair received the pass and put her shot on target but it was saved. Horan fired a shot wide of the post and had a volley cleared near the goal line.
Houston withstood the Thorns' wave of pressure and was able to reestablish a bit of control through their defensive pressure. Houston went into the half with a one-goal lead.
The Thorns came out and pinned Houston back. Weaver created the first chance of the half by touching it around a defender and shooting toward the near post. Portland piled on the early pressure. Horan played it to Sinclair, who was in on goal but decided to square it to Smith, who was pulled down.
Horan played Weaver down the flank. Weaver cut it to Sinclair. The Canadian’s touch let her down and she pushed her shot wide of the goal. Horan grabbed a second assist and Portland equalized. In transition, Horan played through Smith, who road off a challenge before finishing past Campbell.
What. A. Goal. pic.twitter.com/Cqs2d06xpH— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) October 7, 2021
In the 62nd minute, the Dash carved through Portland and Bixby was forced into a reaction saved to deny Daly. Daly got the rebound and hit it off the post. The match became very stretch and was primarily played in transition with both teams looking to hit on the break.
Portland was able to slow the pace and started to turn Houston over with their press. But the Dash capitalized on a set-piece in the 79th minute. Sophie Schmidt got on the end of a corner and crossed it back into the area. Daly rose and had enough on her header to take it past the out-stretched hand of Bixby.
The Thorns had a chance to level it late in the match. Smith played it wide to Horan and Horan returned it in the box, Smith’s shot curled just wide. That was the Thorns’ last real chance of the game and the Dash won in Portland for the first time since 2015.
The Thorns will travel to Kansas City NWSL for their next match on Sunday, Oct. 10. Kickoff is slated for 2:00 PM PST at Legends Field.