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Match Recap: Portland Thorns 2 - Chicago Red Stars 0

The Thorns leap to the top of the table and extend their unbeaten run to 10 matches after their 2-0 victory over the Red Stars Wednesday night.

Michelle Betos came up big once again between the posts for the Thorns.
Michelle Betos came up big once again between the posts for the Thorns.

The Portland Thorns (5-0-5, 20 points) defeated the Chicago Red Stars (5-2-3, 18 points) 2-0 in front of 16,931 at Providence Park in a battle for the top of the NWSL table.

With the victory, the Thorns extended their unbeaten run to 10 matches (5-0-5), the longest in franchise history and tied for the second longest in NWSL history (Seattle, 16, 2014).  Goalkeeper Michelle Betos earned her second clean sheet of the season, while the Thorns earned their fifth overall, as their defense held strong against the dangerous Red Stars attack.

The match was exciting from the onset, as the Thorns took control early with their first of several long spells of possession, which paid off early, as Christine Sinclair slotted the ball toward Tobin Heath, but Red Stars defender Julie Johnston mishit the ball and Sinclair followed it into the 6 yard box, lofting it past the outstretched arms of Alyssa Naeher, giving Sinclair her third goal in three matches.

Before the smoke in the North End had cleared, Red Stars attacker and reigning NWSL Player of the Week Sophia Huerta saw her first of several chances hit off the woodwork.

The Thorns and Red Stars would trade chances in the next portion of the match, but it was the Thorns who saw the back of the net once again.

Off a corner kick sent in by Heath, Amandine Henry headed the ball toward goal, which found Nadia Nadim, who headed the ball past Naeher for her third of the season and the second in two matches.

For Henry, it was one of several moments of brilliance as she continues to acclimate herself to her new surroundings.  Showing the trademark skills that have seen her rise to international stardom, Henry single-handedly shut down the attack of Christen Press on multiple occasions, while also springing the attack with pinpoint passing and ripping a shot from distance.

While the Red Stars persisted in the attack, looking to catch the Thorns off guard by using the speed and skill of Press, Huerta, and Casey Short to create dangerous opportunities, the Thorns' commanding defense stood firm as the centerback tandem of Emily Menges and Emily Sonnett shut down their chances, with Betos showing several moments of brilliance to maintain the shutout as she made her first start since May 29.

With the victory, the Thorns leaped the Red Stars for first place on the NWSL table, moving two points clear of the Red Stars and three points clear of the Washington Spirit.  The result leaves the Thorns as both the top offense (14 goals) and defensive (5 goals allowed) team in the league at the halfway point of the season.  Sinclair, Nadim, and Lindsey Horan sit tied for second in league with 3 goals each, while Heath remains the league leader with 5 assists.

The Thorns will have a short break before they head to Orlando to take on the Pride (4-5-0, 12 points) on Sunday at Camping World Stadium at 2:00pm.