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Watkins: Not quite the beautiful game in Portland on Friday

The Portland Thorns went back to their winning ways at home on Friday evening, handing the Utah Royals their first away loss of the season 2-0 behind goals from Christine Sinclair and Lindsey Horan. The match featured decent chances from both teams, and a fair amount of heated play from both squads towards the end of the game, but it was the Thorns that differentiated themselves from one of their top-four contenders. Here are three things I took away from the match:

The Thorns are underrated on the counter-attack

A lot has been said about Portland’s ability to let their possession flow through their midfield, and create chances through sustained attack, but on Friday night they showed how good they are at perhaps their second best plan. Portland has snatched goals against the natural run of play with ease before (look at their win against Chicago earlier this season for some prime examples of that), but the game against Utah showed just how effective the strategy could be against a defensively-stout team.

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