LISLE, Ill. – Portland Thorns FC remains undefeated as they beat the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 on goals from Danielle Foxhoven and Christine Sinclair. Portland tallied both goals late, but dominated the entire match.
From the start of the game, the Red Stars (0-1-1) looked overmatched. Portland (2-0-1) was able to get away five shots in the first half, three of which were on goal. Red Star goalkeeper Erin McLeod made a couple of nice saves early on, including a hot shot by Alex Morgan. The Red Stars were not able to do much offensively in the first half and did not even manage a shot.
“We played a bit more direct than we would have liked to,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said following the loss. “We had a hard time finding any sort of rhythm in the first half.”
The key to the second half appeared to be the Thorns substituting Danielle Foxhoven for Angie Kerr after halftime. In the 70th minute, Morgan intercepted a poor clearance, but McLeod made another great save. Foxhoven was able to break the scoreless tie with an easy rebound goal, her first of the year.
This was the third match in a row that Foxhoven has come off the bench and provided a spark. Portland coach Cindy Parlow Cone likes the flexibility of having a strong bench.
“I look down the bench, and any one of those players that are on my bench could be starters,” Parlow Cone said. “It’s a battle each week to figure out who our starters are going to be, because they are competing each game and each week in practice.”
Chicago then decided to get more aggressive defensively, which opened the Red Stars up and led to another Thorns goal. Foxhoven once again played an important role in the score. She was able to hold the possession against the Red Stars defense, allowing Morgan and Sinclair to go free. In the 81st minute, Morgan found Sinclair at the top of the box for the game’s second goal.
“They tried pushing numbers forward, and that’s where we broke them down,” said Morgan. “I was able to find Sinc, and Sinc works magic on the ball so she did what she had to do to finish the goal.” This was Sinclair’s second goal of the season.
The Red Stars were able to get a little more pressure in the second half, resulting in three shots on goal. Their best chance came in the 64th minute when Lori Chalupny’s shot was blocked. The Thorns defense was led all night by keeper Karina LeBlanc and defender Nikki Marshall and Rachel Buehler.
Thorns FC will be on the road for their next two games. They play Washington on May 4 and then return to play the Red Stars on May 12 in Chicago. The Red Stars will hit the road for the first time this season, looking for their first win in Boston on May 4.
The Alex Morgan Effect
The Alex Morgan Tour came into Chicago, and the fans got what they came out for.
The stands were almost full giving Chicago an attendance of 2855, which was a significant increase compared to the home opener that drew 1,255. A large portion of this attendance spike is attributed to Morgan and the Thorns.
Much of the Chicago crowd made it feel like it was a Thorns home game. Morgan noticed the crowd and gave credit to the supporters.
“We try and make it feel like a home game whenever we can, even when we’re away,” Morgan said. “I think that we do sort of have fans around the country.”
Morgan led the way with four shots on goal and picked up an assist off of the Sinclair goal. There were plenty of No. 13 jerseys in the stands, and the Chicago crowd would come to life every time she got near the ball.
- Foxhoven has now replaced Angie Kerr in all three Thorns matches and all three times the club has looked more dangerous after Foxhoven’s arrival on the pitch.
- The Red Stars’ midfield looked much better with Shannon Boxx starting than entering as a reserve as she did opening day following national team duty. Boxx set up Zakiya Bywaters for one of the hosts’ best chances on the night but the rookie’s volley went well high.
- Karina LeBlanc had her busiest game of the season and was always well positioned to make the saves look routine. Like the Thorns, it is LeBlanc’s second straight victory and first clean sheet.
- The Thorns remain atop the NWSL table but Sky Blue FC at one point back have a match in hand.
Additional reporting from Dan Lauletta.
Portland – Danielle Foxhoven 70’
Portland – Christine Sinclair (Alex Morgan) 81’
Chicago: Boxx (Dominguez 78’), Bywaters (Sitch 68’), Chalupny, Hemmings, Masar, Mautz (McDonald 71’), McLeod, Moscato, Osborne, Quon, Vandenbergh
Portland: Buehler, Dougherty, Edwards, Kerr (Foxhoven 46’), LeBlanc, Long (Wetzel 90’), Marshall, Morgan (Guess 92’), Sinclair, Washington, Williamson
Chicago – Alyssa Mautz (Yellow Card – Reckless Foul)
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