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Thursday Roundup: Man City advance to UWCL semifinals

Manchester City Women defeated Fortuna Hjørring, 1-0, to advance to the UWCL semifinals. (photo courtesy Man City)

Also in today’s roundup, Thorns fall to U-23’s, Red Stars defeat Dash, Orlando remains undefeated in preseason, Renard signs contract extension with Lyon, and the Dash add Morales to coaching staff.

Manchester City Women defeated Fortuna Hjørring, 1-0, to advance to the UWCL semifinals. (photo courtesy Man City)

Manchester City Women defeated Fortuna Hjørring, 1-0, to advance to the UWCL semifinals. (photo courtesy Man City)

Manchester City produced a second straight 1-0 victory over Fortuna Hjørring to advance to the UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinals where they will face holders Olympique Lyonnais. Lucy Bronze scored close to halftime to double the aggregate, and Karen Bardsley turned aside all three shots she faced for another clean sheet.

The win for Manchester City sets up a mouthwatering semifinal showdown for American fans. Carli Lloyd, who made her fourth straight start on Thursday, will be up against Lyon’s Alex Morgan. The first of those two legs will be in England and the tie will take place over the final two weeks in April. Barcelona faces Paris Saint-Germain in the other semi.

The winners meet for the trophy on June 1 in Cardiff. Lyon are attempting a clean sweep of their available trophies for the second year running. They are also in the semis of the French Cup and sit arop the domestic table.

Last-second goal lifts U-23’s past Thorns

The Portland Thorns dropped their preseason match against the U.S. U-23 women’s national team last night thanks to Stanford commit Sophie Smith.

The match started out much like most everyone expected, with the Thorns gaining the advantage in the opening 10 minutes. In just the 8th minute, Christine Sinclair ran into traffic and sent the ball out to Ashley Herndon, who spotted Mallory Weber making a run for the far post. Herndon’s service found Weber just above the six, and Weber headed the ball past U-23 goalkeeper Casey Murphy for the goal.

The U-23s had several very dangerous chances around the 18th minute. The first came after Savannah McCaskill sent a backheel pass to Brianna Pinto, who went uncapped after being named to the USWNT SheBelieves Cup roster. Pinto put a hard shot on target from the top of the box, only to have it blocked by center back Emily Sonnett. The deflected shot went back out into play, but McCaskill put the rebound back on target before it was deflected out for a U-23 corner kick. Franch prevented Pinto from scoring the olimpico by punching the ball free, only to have to make a second block immediately after to preserve the Thorns’ lead. 

{MORE: Tobin Heath ruled out of USWNT camp | NWSL, Lifetime broadcast schedule announced}

Sinclair started knocking in the last 10 minutes of the half, taking advantage of the lack of pressure being put on by the U-23 defense. Her first shot sailed just wide of the far post, her second deflected off a defender and her third shot was stopped by Murphy. Despite Sinclair’s efforts, Portland was only leading by one at the half.

The scoreline remained unchanged until the 63rd minute when the U-23s got a break. Sophia Smith was fouled in the box by Celeste Boureille, and the ref pointed to the penalty spot. Smith lined up to take the shot, but Franch dove right to make the save. However, Michelle Xiao, who had just entered the game, scored on the follow-up to level the score.

In the final seconds of regulation, defender Meghan Cox passed the ball back to Franch to reset the play. However, Smith read Franch’s positioning and intercepted her pass intended for Cox, went 1v1 with the keeper, and sent a rocket right on target. Franch was able to get a touch on the ball, but the deflected shot still went into the back of the net to give the U-23s the win.

The Thorns Spring Invitational tournament concludes on Saturday, April 1. The U-23s close out the tournament against the Chicago Red Stars at 8 p.m. EST, followed by the Thorns taking on the Houston Dash at 10:30 EST. The Thorns match will once again be livestreamed on the team’s website and YouTube pages.

Portland Lineup: Adrianna Franch; Celeste Boureille, Emily Sonnett, Emily Menges (Meghan Cox 76’), Meghan Klingenberg (Kendall Johnson 60’); Amandine Henry, Allie Long, Ashley Herndon (Mana Shim, 60); Kelli Hubly, Christine Sinclair (C)(Nadia Nadim 72’), Mallory Weber (Caroline Flynn 60’)

U.S. U-23 Lineup: Casey Murphy; Alana Cook, Tegan McGrady, Kaleigh Riehl, Ellie Jean; Jaelin Howell (Tierna Davidson 62’), Brianna Pinto (Sandra Yu 84’), Mallory Eubanks (Ashley Sanchez 66’); Sophia Smith, Savannah McCaskill (C)(Jordan DiBiasi 73’), Tziarra King (Michelle Xiao 62’)

Chicago Red Stars defeat Houston Dash, 2-1

Christen Press scored a brace in Chicago's 2-1 preseason win over the Dash. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Christen Press scored a brace in Chicago’s 2-1 preseason win over the Dash. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

After a 1-0 loss to hosts Portland on Sunday, the Chicago Red Stars rebounded to defeat the Houston Dash, 2-1 on Wednesday night in the team’s second preseason match.

The Red Stars would not take the lead until the last minutes of the first half off a penalty kick awarded after Jen Hoy, who was making a run towards goal, was taken down in the box. Christen Press converted the penalty for the opening goal of the match.

Houston then got on the board after converting a penalty of their own after Taylor Comeau, who up until that point had successfully defended Kealia Ohai to prevent last year’s Golden Boot runner-up from getting a solid look on goal, fouled Melissa Henderson inside the 18. Henderson took the penalty herself and put it past Alyssa Naeher to put the Dash on the board in the 82nd minute.

{RELATED: Lee: How the Red Stars won the NWSL off-season}

The score would not remain even for long though, as just two minutes later Summer Green, who was traded to the Red Stars after a knee injury suffered during the 2015 NCAA tournament caused her to miss her rookie season in Seattle, connected with Press for the game winner. Press’s two goals were the first of her preseason since she missed Sunday night’s match to attend teammate Julie Ertz’s wedding.

The Red Stars next take on the U.S. U-23 WNT, followed by the Dash facing off against preseason tournament host Portland. Both matches will be played on Saturday, April 1.

Chicago Red Stars Lineup: Alyssa Naeher; Casey Short, Katie Naughton, Morgan Proffitt (Mary Luba 46’); Taylor Comeau, Danielle Colaprico, Brittany Ratcliffe (Summer Green 65’), Vanessa DiBernardo (Lauren Kaskie 87’); Sofia Huerta (Simone Kolander 82’), Christen Press (C), Jen Hoy (Alyssa Mautz 46’)

Houston Dash Lineup: Jane Campbell; Poliana, Bruna Benites, Janine Van Wyk (Cari Roccaro 74’), Claire Falknor, Amber Brooks (Cami Privett 77’); Andressa (Caity Heap 62’), Denise O’Sullivan (Melissa Henderson 69’); Kealia Ohai (C) (Megan Crosson 69’), Janine Beckie (Rachel Daly 69’), Nichelle Prince

Orlando Pride continues undefeated preseason streak

The Orlando Pride improved to 3-0-0 in their preseason, defeating the University of Florida, 3-0, in a closed-door match on Wednesday afternoon. The match was the second preseason meeting for the two teams and the second win for the Pride, who beat the collegiate team 5-1 last year.

“I was pleased with the showing from the squad today, especially since it was our first look at real Florida heat,” Tom Sermanni, head coach of the Pride, said after the match. “It was a good test for our new players and a reminder for our returners that this is what we need to be used to this season.”

Christina Burkenroad opened up scoring for the Pride just five minutes into the contest. Chioma Ubogagu put an initial shot on goal, only to see it tipped off the crossbar by Florida’s goalkeeper. The ball landed at Burkenroad’s feet, and she sent it into the back of the net to give the Pride an early lead.

Ubogagu found her way onto the scoresheet just seven minutes later, moving the ball through the Gators’ final third beating the goalkeeper with a low shot. The last goal of the day came in the 41st minute when Sarah Hagen drew a foul to earn the Pride a penalty kick. Kristen Edmonds took the penalty and easily converted.

The Pride next hosts Florida State University on Saturday, April 1, but the match is closed to the public.

Orlando First-Half Lineup: AshlynHarris; Jamia Fields, Ali Krieger, Alanna Kennedy, Camila; Monica, Dani Weatherholt, Kristen Edmonds; Chioma Ubogagu, Christina Burkenroad (Sarah Hagen 23’), JasmyneSpencer (Danica Evans 31’)

Orlando Second-Half Lineup: Aubrey Bledsoe; Jordan O’Brien, Laura Alleway, Toni Pressley, Monica (Carol Rodrigues 61’); Maddy Evans, Dani Weatherholt (Christina Burkenroad 64’), Nickolette Driesse; Danica Evans, Sarah Hagen, Jasmyne Spencer

Rendard inks long-term extension with Lyon

Renard gestures to her defense during the first half during a Germany throw-in. (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

Wendie Renard signed a 5-year contract extension with Lyon. (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

Lyon have locked up defensive centerpiece Wendie Renard through the bulk of her prime years by agreeing to terms on a contract that will keep her with the club through 2022. Earlier this year Renard was briefly linked to the Orlando Pride but the sides were never in talks beyond the preliminary stage.

Known for her oft-changing and sometimes outrageous hair, Renard is one of the top defenders in the world and uses her size expertly to be a factor on set pieces at both ends of the pitch. At the SheBelieves Cup earlier this month Renard helped set France on course to the title by heading in a corner kick to beat England with the final touch of the opening match for both.

Renard serves as captain for both Lyon and France. She is in her 11th season with the Lyon. The club has won the domestic league in her first 10 and are on course for an 11th straight title. The club have also won the last five French Cups and six overall with Renard plus three UEFA Women’s Champions League titles. Lyon won the treble last Spring and is alive to do so again this uear.

The extension will keep Renard at Lyon until just before her 32nd birthday.

Dash add Omar Morales to coaching staff

The Houston Dash announced today that they had hired Omar Morales as an assistant coach. Morales will join the Dash in early April following the team’s return from Portland, where they have been competing in the Thorns’ preseason tournament.

Besides working alongside head coach Randy Waldrum full time throughout the NWSL season, Morales will also serve as liaison to the Dash academy team.

Morales comes to Houston after serving as the head coach at Eastern New Mexico University from 2014-2016. In his first season at the helm of ENMU, Morales led the team to the second-most wins in program history (16) and a third-place finish in the Lone Star Conference. Last season the Greyhounds secured a new record for most goals in a game in their 11-0 shutout of the University of the Southwest.

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