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NWSL Friday: Portland hands Houston first loss since May

Houston Dash 1, Portland Thorns 3

Portland defeated the Houston Dash 3-1 on a typical hot and muggy night in Houston, delivering the Dash their first loss since May 19 and ending the Thorns’ own two-game winless streak. Sofia Huerta, Clare Polkinghorne, and Taylor Comeau all got their first starts for the Dash, while Tobin Heath, Adrianna Franch, and Emily Sonnett returned for the Thorns. Lindsey Horan was unavailable due to yellow card suspension.

Maybe it was the heat, the lineup changes, or a combination, but the game never felt like it got out of second gear. As they are wont the do, the Dash were content to let Portland possess and pass along the backline, preferring to sit deeper and wait for their opportunity. Passing was sloppy from both sides, and the Thorns made it count in the ninth minute when Heath was left open in the box. Christine Sinclair sent the ball across the top of the box, and Heath ran onto it after a beautiful dummy from Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, beating Jane Campbell at near post.

Just three minutes later, the Dash were the ones to take advantage of a defensive mishap. Kealia Ohai got past Katherine Reynolds and crossed the ball into the box. Rachel Daly got on the end of the soft clearance and passed to Kyah Simon, who crossed it back in from the opposite side. The ball ricocheted off Sonnett, who was facing her own goal, into Franch, who blocked it with her foot but was on the ground when Huerta flicked the rebound in for her first Dash goal.

A few minutes later Polkinghorne nearly got in on the debut action when she connected in the air with a corner kick, but Franch made an excellent reaction save at full stretch to keep things level.

In the 33rd minute, Crnogorčević tried to slip it past Campbell at near post. The goalkeeper made the block, but Crnogorčević got her head on the rebound and recycled her attempt past Campbell, just out of reach of Allysha Chapman on the goal line.

For the first twenty minutes of the second half, roles switched. The Dash were the team pressing harder and possessing the ball, looking for the second equalizer, while the Thorns took their foot off the gas for a bit. Huerta was denied a brace by Emily Menges, protecting an open net, and Simon sent one off the crossbar. However, the Dash couldn’t really find the final pass, and Portland soon took back control of the match.

In the 83rd minute, Sinclair received the ball well outside the box with plenty of time and space. She took a few touches toward the center, turned and launched an effort over Campbell, who appeared unprepared for a shot from distance and was late to react.

This goal was the cherry on top for Sinclair’s 100th NWSL appearance and ensured the Dash couldn’t mount another comeback. The win moves Portland (5-4-4) to fourth place. They host Sky Blue next Wednesday. Houston (3-5-5) stays in seventh place and travels to Orlando next Wednesday.

GOAL SUMMARY

  1. Thorns – Tobin Heath (Christine Sinclair), 9
  2. Dash – Sofia Huerta (unassisted), 12
  3. Thorns – Ana-Maria Crnogorčević (unassisted), 33
  4. Thorns – Christine Sinclair (Tyler Lussi), 83

– Chelsey Bush

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