Portland Thorns FC traveled to Chicago and defeated the Red Stars 1-0 after a gritty defensive performance. The Thorns stay at the top of the West group with six points.
In the Thorns’ second match of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, they were dealing with a depleted roster and didn’t have their head coach Mark Parsons on the sideline. Portland was still without their international stars and Simone Charley and Parsons were serving their suspension for being red-carded in the previous match.
Both teams struggled to get control early but the Red Stars grew into the match. Chicago’s midfield did well to stifle Portland’s build-up and forced the Thorns long. The Red Stars created danger but were limited to half-chances from set-pieces and shots from distance.
The Thorns’ only first half look at goal came in the 36th minute. Raquel Rodriguez got her head to a cross after a recycled free-kick. It did not test the keeper and flew wide.
Marissa Everett and Tyler Lussi combined for the best opportunity of the match up until that point. Everett played a curling ball behind the Chicago defense and Lussi shot from well outside the area. Her shot smashed against the crossbar.
After the Lussi chance, Portland put together a good spell of possession. The Red Stars regrouped and continued to dominate possession. The Thorns continued to go direct and in the 66th minute it paid off.
Celeste Boureille played to ball long to Morgan Weaver. Weaver got around Casey Krueger and slid the ball into the bottom corner.
“I think, first half, after coming off the field, we were all kind of not happy with ourselves and just wanted to perform better and have some more energy,” said Weaver at the post-match press conference. “And I think, second half, we really went out there and proved to everyone that we had the energy and we were going to win this game. And I just saw Cel[este Boureille] head up and ran off the back shoulder of Casey [Krueger] and ended up getting the goal.”
Katie Johnson had a chance to equalize in the 75th minute as she challenged Adrianna Franch for a ball in the six-yard box. The Red Stars continued to try and break down the Thorns defense but they weren’t efficient in the final third.
In the 83rd minute, Meaghan Nally replaced Marissa Everett to make her NWSL debut.
The Thorns are back in action against OL Reign on Wednesday at Providence Park. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. (Pacific).