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NWSL Friday: Thorns jump into 2nd place with 2-0 win over Royals

Christine Sinclair and Lindsey Horan bagged first half goals to lift Portland Thorns FC to over Utah Royals FC 2-0 for their second consecutive win and clean sheet. The result puts the Thorns into 2nd place on the table though the Reign and Pride can move past them on Saturday. Meanwhile the Royals saw their five-match unbeaten streak end and lost on the road for the first time.

The Thorns went ahead on an 18th minute counterattack that ran through Sinclair. Taking a central role, Sinclair used her space in the center of the park to play a long ball to Tobin Heath between Royals defenders. Heath held up the ball and then turned to play to Sinclair. The all-time Canadian scorer beat Abby Smith for her NWSL leading 6th of the season.

The lead doubled in the 39th minute. Meghan Klingenberg got down the left side and her cross dropped perfectly on the knee of Horan, who was being blanketed by Becky Sauerbrunn. Horan was able to redirect it into goal to make it 2-0.

The Royals did not generate a ton of chances but the ones they did were near the end of each half. At the end of the first, Erika Tymrak got in close to keeper Britt Eckerstrom, and a subsequent shot by Amy Rodriguez beat the keeper but was cleared off the line by Klingenberg. Rodriguez had two more quality chances late in the second. The first was a knuckler saved by Eckerstrom and the other was a cross from Gunnhildur Jonsdottir that somehow missed the frame.

The Thorns (4-3-3, 15 points) now prepare for an opportunity to throw their hat in the ring for the Shield when they host the league-leading Courage on Wednesday night. The Royals (2-2-5, 11 pts.) remain in 6th place but only one point out of the top four. Next up is a June 2 visit to Sky Blue.

SCORING SUMMARY:

  1. Thorns — Christine Sinclair (Tobin Heath), 18
  2. Thorns — Lindsey Horan (Meghan Klingenberg), 39

Dan Lauletta

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