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Thorns trounce Chicago Red Stars 5-0 in season opener

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Talk about starting the regular season with a bang.

Craig Mitchelldyer/Thorns FC

Portland Thorns FC dominated the Chicago Red Stars 5-0 in their regular-season opener. Meghan Klingenberg made her 100th career NWSL appearance and the Thorns celebrated by scoring early and often.

Sophia Smith got it started. She picked the ball off of a defender and curled the ball toward the back post. The ball was knocked into the Chicago net by the Red Stars’ Tierna Davidson, giving Portland a 1-0 lead inside five minutes.

Chicago replied with some pressure of their own, but the Thorns defended well and attacked with numbers. Klingenberg won a penalty kick in the 12th minute and Christine Sinclair stepped up and doubled the lead. Sinclair became the third player in NWSL history to reach 50 regular-season goals.

In the 16th minute, Adrianna Franch claimed a flighted ball and bombed it forward. Morgan Weaver ran on to it and passed to Smith, who slotted it into the back of the net.

Weaver and Smith combined again in the 30th minute. Weaver provided and Smith rolled the ball past Alyssa Naeher, making it 4-0.

The pace of the match slowed in the second half. Portland continued to dictate the tempo of the match but Chicago did much better to stifle the Thorns in the final third.

The Thorns created danger early in the second half off of set-pieces. Sinclair had an opportunity but lofted her shot over the bar and Rocky Rodriguez struck a volley that was saved off the post.

Chicago’s best chance came in the 65th minute when Mallory Pugh received a chipped ball in the box. She couldn’t get her shot off and Kelli Hubly cleared the danger.

Portland added a fifth in the 72nd. Crystal Dunn played Sinclair in the box, who dribbled through the box and shot. Her shot was parried and substitute Tyler Lussi crashed the goal and tapped it in.

Franch made a diving intervention to prevent a Casey Krueger cross from finding a target late in the match. After that, the Thorns had secured their victory.

Next up, the Thorns will play OL Reign at Providence Park on May 23. Kick-off is set right now for 3 p.m.