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Portland Thorns Gut Out 1-0 Win Over Houston Dash in Season Opener

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The Thorns did not look great in their season opener but, thanks to an opportunistic goal, came away with all three points.

USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Thorns pulled out a 1-0 win over the Houston Dash in their first match of the 2014 season. The Thorns overcame a rocky start to the match and some high pressure from the Dash to come away with all three points on the road.

The first half started with a flurry of chances for the Dash as they held possession consistently for the first twenty minutes of the match. The tide started to turn in the 23' as the Thorns got their first  real break down the field of the half. With the ball forced out wide for a throw in, Allie Long made a darting run into the Dash box. Jessica McDonald, the Thorns' 6'0" forward, whipped a long throw into the box and Long rose above the defense to head it past Erin McLeod and into the Dash net.

The goal looked like it would be a turning point in the game, but the Dash redoubled their efforts and were soon pressing forward for the equalizer. The Thorns' defense absorbed pressure admirably, but struggled to link up with the attack, resulting in repeated forays down the pitch for the Dash. To the relief of the Thorns the half ended with them still up 1-0.

In the second half the Thorns hit the pitch with a renewed vigor and somewhat more accurate passing, taking the game to the Dash in the opening minutes. Playing through Christine Sinclair and Allie Long, the Thorns came close several times as they repeatedly broke down the field.

The best chance of the half for the Thorns came early in the 48' when McDonald dropped a pass back to Long in space outside the Dash box. With room to line up her shot, Long ripped one at the near post only to have the shot skip off the crossbar and fly out of bounds.

After the Thorns' initial push, the Dash began to reassert themselves on the match, pushing forward once again. Like they did in the first half, the Thorns' defense bent but did not break, absorbing the Dash attack until the final whistle.