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Thorns stay unbeaten, hand Spirit first loss

Portland Thorns FC exploded for three goals in the first half on their way to a 4-1 victory over the Washington Spirit that leaves them as the last unbeaten side in NWSL this season. Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, and Meg Morris scored and the Thorns also benefited from an own goal. Joanna Lohman had the lone goal for the Spirit.

After a week on the sideline serving a red card suspension, Tobin Heath returned to the Thorns lineup and was a dominant force on the flank again. The Thorns also started Christine Sinclair for the first time and she opened up plenty of space for her teammates. Moments after Spirit keeper denied Dagny Brynjarsdottir with a leaping tap-over-the-bar save, Heath drove a corner kick to the far post where Horan lost her mark and finished it to put the Thorns ahead.

The goal in the 27th minute snapped the Spirit and Labbe’s shutout streaks at three games and 321 minutes, both club records.

The next streak lasted only four minutes. Sinclair collected a Heath throw-in and delivered a superb pass into the box for Nadia Nadim. Labbe came out and was first to the ball but her clearance went straight into the chest of her teammate Alyssa Kleiner and into goal giving Kleiner an unlucky own goal. The Thorns added to the lead in stoppage time when Megan Oyster got caught flat-footed playing a Sinclair pass into Heath. Labbe got a hand on the shot but Heath beat her to the ball as it rolled toward goal and tapped it in for her first of the season.

The Spirit put up a good fight and pulled one back before the hour mark when Crystal Dunn out-maneuvered Megan Klingenberg on the end line and sent a cross to Lohman who headed in her third of the season. But they could get no closer and eventually conceded a fourth when Meg Morris ran onto a ball and curled her first professional goal past Labbe.

The match was littered with several hard fouls and the Spirit had to finish with 10 after Cheyna Williams got caught in a rough challenge with Emily Sonnett. And Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan saw her fourth yellow card of the season putting her on watch for an automatic suspension.

The Thorns (3-0-3, 12 points) are within a point of the league lead and will brace themselves to lose six starters to U.S. national team camp when they host Seattle Reign FC a week from Sunday (May 29.) The Spirit (4-1-1, 13 points) lost for the first time under Jim Gabarra. They are in Houston on Friday night.

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