Sophia Smith and Marissa Everett scored in Portland Thorns FC’s 2-1 win over the Orlando Pride. The win puts the Thorns in first place with 19 points. Bella Bixby set the record for most consecutive shutout minutes to start an NWSL regular season career.
The match got off to a choppy start, but the Thorns took control of the match first through good spells of defensive and offensive pressure.
Rocky Rodriguez released Morgan Weaver in behind the Orlando Pride back line in the 21st minute. Weaver picked her head up and tried to curl a cross to Sophia Smith but the pass took a deflection off a Pride defender and off Ashlyn Harris’s goalpost.
Two minutes later, the Thorns almost capitalized on an Angela Salem corner. Celeste Boureille flicked the Salem corner to center back Kelli Hubly. Hubly stuck it on the half-volley and launched it over the bar.
Portland opened the scoring in the 26th minute. Marissa Everett passed the ball to Smith in the Thorns’ defensive half. Smith drove through the midfield and through the challenges of the Pride defense and rocketed a shot past Harris to make it 1-0.
The Thorns took over after the goal. They pinned Orlando in their own 18-yard box and Meghan Klingenberg won a penalty kick after being taken down in the box. Rodriguez stepped up, but her poorly placed penalty kick was saved by Harris.
The penalty save breathed life into the Pride, who looked rejuvenated. Portland kept pushing for a second goal as Rodriguez crossed to Weaver. Weaver headed the ball toward the bottom corner, but Harris made the save.
The Pride’s only good look on goal came from a similar situation moments later. Courtney Petersen crossed to Sydney Leroux, who headed over the bar.
The final chance of the match came deep in first-half stoppage time. Natalia Kuikka curled a ball behind the Pride defense and Smith ran onto it. Smith was one on one with Harris but scuffed her shot wide.
The Thorns opened the second half by forcing the Pride to defend deep in their own half. Portland piled on the pressure and in the 59th minute, they doubled the lead. Klingenberg lofted a cross into the area and Everett powered a header off the extended hand of Harris and into the goal.
The match became more transitional after the second goal and with the introduction of substitutes on both sides. Weaver and substitute Yazmeen Ryan were dangerous on the counterattack but couldn’t combine for the third. Weaver played Ryan through on goal, but Ryan’s touch let her down. Ryan found Weaver on the top of the box moments later and Weaver fired over the bar.
The Thorns were unable to add to their two-goal lead and Orlando halved the deficit. Marisa Viggiano struck a powerful shot past Bixby. Still, the Thorns took it 2-1.
The Thorns travel to Houston to take on the Dash in BBVA Stadium on July 24. Kickoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. PST.