Portland Thorns FC defeated NJ/NY Gotham FC 1-0 in Harrison, NJ courtesy of Crystal Dunn’s first goal for the team.
The start of the match was back in forth in the rainy Red Bull Arena. The Thorns and Gotham started quickly and tried to find their playmakers in space and hit the opponents in transition.
The Thorns almost opened the scoring in the second minute. Lindsey Horan lofted a cross into the 18-yard box and Sophia Smith positioned herself in front of the nearest defender. Smith headed the ball toward goal and was denied by Kailen Sheridan.
Smith continued to cause Gotham problems down the right flank as Portland tried to find her behind the defense. Horan got on the end of a Klingenberg cross in the 15th minute but Sheridan dealt with it calmly.
As the first half progressed, the Thorns saw more of the ball and Gotham looked to find Ifeoma Onumonu and Carli Lloyd as outlets in transition.
The Thorns came closest to taking the lead in the 28th minute. Smith split two defenders in the box and cut the ball back to Crystal Dunn. The midfielder fired her shot off the post. Portland continued to create but were unable to take advantage of their opportunities toward the end of the half.
Portland started the second half strongly. Simone Charley created two half-chances. Gotham responded with a spell of pressure and Carli Lloyd blew past Meghan Klingenberg and crossed to Onumonu. She couldn’t make contact and the chance was gone.
The Thorns quickly regained control and in the 56th minute took the lead courtesy of individual brilliance. Klingenberg drove at the defense and found Dunn. She took one touch to create space and rocketed a shot into the top corner, scoring her first goal in a Thorns’ kit and the first goal given up by Gotham in the regular season.
Smith had a chance to double the lead. Sheridan made a mistake on the ball and Smith was looking at an open net. Smith shot from a difficult angle but couldn’t finish. Moments later Horan received the ball on the top of the box and hit it first time. The shot flew over the bar.
Gotham grew into the match after the flurry of Portland chances. The NJ/NY side found space in transition and looked to create from set-pieces but still struggled to create clear-cut opportunities.
Smith tested Sheridan again in the 71st minute. Her step-overs took her past her defenders and she launched a shot from a tight angle. Sheridan tipped the ball over the bar for a corner kick.
Gotham forced the Thorns to sit back and defend for much of the final ten minutes, in addition to seven minutes of added time, as they searched for an equalizer. The Thorns saw the match out well and secured a very important three points.
Next up, the Thorns will be back home in Providence Park for their match against expansion side Racing Louisville FC. That match is set for Saturday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. PST.