The Orlando Pride hand Portland Thorns FC their second straight loss, courtesy of goals from Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux
The Thorns made five changes to the starting lineup that lost 2-1 to OL Reign on Sunday, pulling Tyler Lussi, Simone Charley, Madison Pogarch, Natalia Kuikka, and Angela Salem into the XI.
Both teams started slowly, but each had waves of pressure. The Thorns possessed the ball early, but were unable to break down the compact defense of the Pride. Orlando responded with a spell of their own. They pressed high up the pitch and then counter-pressed well, which forced Portland into giveaways in dangerous positions.
The Pride’s pressure turned the Thorns over on the top of their own box in the 20th minute. Taylor Kornieck chipped a ball to Morgan, who made a clever run into the penalty area. Morgan struck it first time and gave goalkeeper Adrianna Franch no chance to save it.
Orlando continued to disrupt the Thorns with their intensity and were able to get on the ball more. The Thorns responded well and started to dictate the pace of the match again toward the end of the half.
The Thorns’ first clear chance of the match fell to Crystal Dunn. Lussi won the ball in the final third, and it found the feet of Dunn. Dunn drove into the 18-yard box, but was denied by Ashlyn Harris.
Portland was unable to create through the center and relied heavily on crosses. In the 35th minute, Kuikka curled a perfect pass to Charley. The forward jumped posterized her defender, and fired the header into the ground and into the back of the net.
It was Charley’s first career NWSL regular season goal and Natalia Kuikka got her first assist.
.@SimoneCharley with the headed equalizer.#ORLvPOR | #BAONPDX pic.twitter.com/bQlPdCG3KG— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) May 26, 2021
The Pride regained the lead almost immediately in the second half. Kelli Hubly mishandled a back pass and was knocked off the ball by Leroux, who poked it into the back of the net.
Portland had a chance to equalize less than a minute later when substitute Sophia Smith created space for herself down the right and pushed her shot just wide of Harris’s post.
The Orlando goal-scorers continued to cause Portland problems. Leroux played a cut back to Morgan in the box, and the Pride were denied a goal by a crucial challenge from Hubly.
The teams traded spells of possession, and the Thorns threw numbers forward in search of an equalizer. Portland’s best chance came in the 87th minute, when Dunn won the ball and drove into the penalty area. She was unbalanced as she shot, however, and the ball flew over the crossbar.
The Pride were able to successfully close the game out and defeat the Thorns with the same game plan that brought them success against the North Carolina Courage on Saturday.
The Thorns will travel to NJ/NY Gotham FC on Sunday. Kick-off is slated for 12:00 p.m. (Pacific).