On a very hot Wednesday night, the Portland Thorns started their participation in the Women’s International Champions Cup. This time their semifinal was, for their first time in history, against a Mexican team. Rayadas de Monterrey went to Providence Park on a mission and after 90 minutes and penalty kicks, they made history.
The starting lineup let us see that coach Rhian Wilkinson decided to rotate and gave the start to some players who hadn’t had many minutes so far in 2022.
Good start for Portland
Things started brightly for the Thorns. It was the first minute when Marissa Everett had her first chance. Rayadas lost the ball in the midfield and Yazmeen Ryan picked it up and made a quick pass to the forward who couldn’t score due to the good intervention of goalkeeper Alejandría Godinez.
Two minutes later, the visitors lost the ball in the midfield again and it was Ryan who once again put a well-timed pass for Everett, who didn’t miss this time. Portland was already leading five minutes into the match.
JUST. LIKE. THAT.— Women's International Champions Cup (@iccwomen) August 18, 2022
take the early lead pic.twitter.com/pX6SxEBuwK
Rayadas insisted on trying to build their attack on the right side and managed to send crosses to Portland’s box but the defense cleared them all. It was minute 15 when Tegan McGrady had to be subbed off due to the concussion protocol. Gabby Provenzano took her place.
After that substitution and the hydration break, Rayadas started to build, now on the left, and young star Aylin Avilez started to find more of the ball. It was a big blow however that minutes after that, she had to be subbed off due to injury. Her foot got stuck on the turf and she was in visible pain.
Near minute 25, Portland applied pressure on Rayadas' side of the field and they stole the ball. It was Ryan once again who put a well-timed pass to Janine Beckie who had the chance to finish, but didn’t and instead passed the ball to Rocky Rodríguez. But defenders Rebeca Bernal and Isabel Echeverri managed to block and clear that ball.
Portland was pretty much in control until the end of the first half. They created some chances but couldn’t finish them.
Monterrey comes with a plan
The second half brought some changes, like Hannah Betfort coming in for Yazmeen Ryan. Another change was the way Rayadas started to pressure Portland higher up the pitch, giving us a glimpse into the future about how the equalizer was going to come.
In this play made by Monterrey at minute 49, they applied a triple pressure on Nally. The pressure worked, and after she made the pass to Provenzano, she was forced to get rid of the ball quickly, passing it to Taylor Porter. Rayadas player Bárbara Olivieri was near and stripped Porter of possession. After that, she had a lot of time and space to shoot, but luckily for the Thorns, she couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
Portland kept looking to score but Rayadas blocked their shots pretty well and they kept hanging on, weathering the storm. Rayadas; goalkeeper was crucial at minute 58 when she stopped with one hand a great shot made by Vasconcelos.
Goal? Not here pic.twitter.com/X6aYZQgCOu— Women's International Champions Cup (@iccwomen) August 18, 2022
In this play, the post helped Godinez but in the end, she blocked the first shot pretty well and denied Meaghan Nally in the 62nd minute.
After that, coach Wilkinson decided to refresh the attack, bringing Christine Sinclair and Morgan Weaver into the match for Rocky and Michelle Vasconcelos. That change gave more dynamism to both wings, with Beckie attacking on the right and Weaver on the left.
Rayadas’ equalizer came four minutes later when Diana García found acres of space to shoot and beat Abby Smith, with a play similar to the one that happened at minute 48.
Rayadas equalized the game pic.twitter.com/C84j3hkeMK— Women's International Champions Cup (@iccwomen) August 18, 2022
Monterrey got the boost of energy needed at a key moment in the match and with 20 minutes left, both teams had chances to score the winner and advance to the WICC final. The visitors took advantage of the home team's state of mind and started to move the ball with intelligence. Portland started to throw the ball forward, but without much thought. The match needed someone who could control the midfield, and that’s why Wilkinson brought Sam Coffey on the field for Marissa Everett and also Emily Menges on for Kelli Hubly.
Coffey had a great opportunity at the 81st minute. She passed the ball to Nally, who passed it to Betfort and then to Weaver. Coffey made a good run and the key pass by Weaver was great but Coffey couldn’t hit the ball properly and sent it out of bounds.
A scary moment for Portland came at the 86’ when a good service gave Burkenroad the chance to head the ball on goal. Luckily for the Thorns, she couldn’t head it properly and Smith was well positioned and stopped the header.
The Thorns had two promising free kicks near the box in stoppage time but they couldn’t capitalize on them.
At the end of 90 minutes plus four minutes of stoppage time, the match ended and the winner had to be decided in penalties. Morgan Weaver, Christine Sinclair, Hannah Betfort, Sam Coffey, and Janine Beckie were the 5 players chosen by the coach for the task. Sadly, the Thorns could only score 2 out of 5 penalties, with Weaver, Sinclair, and Beckie’s PKs being saved by Godinez. Abby Smith saved Bernal’s PK but it wasn’t enough and Rayadas went through.
With this defeat, Portland won’t be able to defend their WICC title and will have to play against Chelsea for the 3rd place in the Cup. The game will kick off at 5 PM Pacific next Saturday and will be streamed on ESPNU for USA fans and will also be available on DAZN.
This WICC marked the return of Lindsey Horan to Providence Park with Lyon. And she has done often in Providence Park, she scored this beauty on Wednesday, helping her current team to get back in the game from a 0-2 deficit.
IT WAS MEANT TO BE FOR HORAN ⚽ pic.twitter.com/NELeESdHwK— Women's International Champions Cup (@iccwomen) August 18, 2022
Lyon won their semifinal on penalties (Lindsey hit the post in her PK). So at least one Thorn (on loan) will get to play the Cup final, right? I don’t know about you but I’ll be screaming ‘Avenge us, Lindsey! Avenge us!’ to the TV during the entire match... or maybe not.