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NWSL Wednesday: Ohai, Huerta tag-team Houston comeback over Orlando

Sky Blue rallies to draw Thorns but sets dubious league mark

Sky Blue rally earns draw, dubious league record

U.S. teammates Lindsey Horan and Carli Lloyd traded goals in a 1-1 draw Wednesday night in front of the largest crowd (18,237) to see an NWSL match at Providence Park this season. The split result was unlikely to please either side, the Portland Thorns having now dropped points at home for the fifth time this season and Sky Blue having established a dubious league record by opening the season with 12 consecutive winless contests.

The match began with the Thorns having to reach into their depth. Tobin Heath was scratched just before lineups dropped, and then Emily Menges was a late scratch. The champs still managed to get the better of the opening stanza and were rewarded when Horan gave them the lead moments before the half time whistle.

After Horan won a foul from Lloyd, Meghan Klingenberg sent the long free kick to just inside the 18-yard box where Christine Sinclair was unmarked. The Thorns captain headed it backward where Horan redirected it into the net in the 45th minute.

Lloyd evened things out by doing her own version of winning a foul and finishing. In her case she entered the left edge of the penalty area and was taken down by Celeste Boureille. Lloyd then stood over the penalty and beat Adrianna Franch with a smooth strike to equalize in the 77th minute.

Sky Blue pushed for a winner and nearly found it in the 87th minute but Shea Groom’s shot went off Franch’s knee.

With the point the Thorns (5-4-5, 20 pts) remain in third place but they did drop to 2-3-2 at Providence Park. They were 18-2-2 there over the last two regular seasons. Next up is a short ride up the coast to face the Reign in Seattle on Saturday night. Sky Blue (0-9-3) now stand on the verge of equaling another undesirable record—13 straight winless matches. To avoid joining the 2013 Washington Spirit with that mark, Sky Blue will need to win Saturday night in Utah.

GOAL SUMMARY:

  1. Portland Thorns FC (Horan 45′)
  2. Sky Blue FC (Lloyd 77′)

 Dan Lauletta

Utah Royals 0, Seattle Reign 0

It wasn’t much of a banner day for offense at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday evening, though Christen Press made a strong debut for the Royals, who held much of the attacking pressure throughout the match.

The Royals came out swinging in particular at the left side of Seattle’s formation (not dissimilarly to North Carolina this past weekend), where Rumi Utsugi and Steph Catley struggled to contain the Utah midfield, and Megan Rapinoe was reluctant to track too far back lest she hobble the main lever in Seattle’s offense.

Press and Amy Rodriguez had quite a few opportunities to open the scoring throughout the match, but their communication was clearly still a work in progress, with final passes going somewhat awry and some strong runs having to be cut off due to poor timing. And while the Reign actually ended the match with the advantage in overall possession, their slower tactic of building from the back never resulted in any sustained looks in front of Utah’s goal.

However, despite looking on their heels, Seattle had a chance to steal the game late, when in the 86th minute sub Jasmyne Spencer almost got on the end of a cross from the right side, but she didn’t quite have the height to connect with the final header.

Utah will look to develop their attack more extensively against hapless Sky Blue on Saturday, June 30th, and Seattle will look to stop the skid in a major Cascadia Clash against the Portland Thorns that same evening.

GOAL SUMMARY:

n/a

— Claire Watkins

 

 

(photo by EriMac Photo for The Equalizer)

Kealia Ohai scored the first of two late-game goals to seal the comeback victory for the Dash. (photo by EriMac Photo for The Equalizer)

The Orlando Pride was the more dominant team throughout the majority of the match, but the Houston Dash scored two unanswered goals late in the second half for the comeback win. Alex Morgan put Orlando up midway through the first half, but Kealia Ohai and Sofia Huerta scored two goals for the Dash in the final 15 minutes of the match to earn a vital three points on the road for Houston.

Orlando missed a major opportunity early in the match after Clare Polkinghorne and Alex Morgan got tangled up, resulting in the pair tumbling to the ground inside the box. Polkinghorne was whistled for the foul and the official pointed to the spot, awarding the Pride a penalty kick. Morgan stepped to the spot to take the penalty and aimed for the lower left corner—Campbell dove to the right—but Morgan’s attempt bounced off the post to deny her of the goal.

Morgan followed her penalty attempt with another close shot on goal, but Campbell was there to make the save. Neither she nor the woodwork could deny Morgan in the 22nd minute, though, when defender Shelina Zadorsky found Morgan unmarked in the box at the near post and the forward easily tapped the ball home. Although there was some on-field controversy surrounding the goal as the Houston backline (and Morgan herself) seemed to think the assistant referee had raised the offside flag to negate the goal; however, the official allowed the goal to stand, putting the home side up halfway through the first half.

The Pride enjoyed a one-goal lead for the majority of the match, but that all changed once Pride head coach Tom Sermanni began making substitutions. Those changes, especially once both Marta and Morgan off of the field, saw momentum swing in Houston’s favor, and the Dash attack began creating the most opportunities on goal they had all night. That momentum resulted in Kealia Ohai scoring the equalizer in the 79th minute of a “shross” from the far side of the field that sailed over the fingertips of Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and into the net.

Houston was then gifted another scoring opportunity by Orlando’s defense when Monica was whistled for a handball in the box and Houston was awarded a penalty kick of their own. Sofia Huerta lined up to take the spot kick and put it in the left upper 90 while Harris dove to the right of goal, resulting in Houston taking the lead in the final minutes of the match. Four minutes of stoppage time weren’t enough for the Pride, and Huerta’s goal—her second in as many matches in a Dash kit—would be the final tally of the night.

Orlando (6-4-4, 22 points) remains at home for a second Week 14 match, taking on the league leaders North Carolina at 3:30 pm ET on Saturday, June 30 in the Lifetime Game of the Week. The Dash (4-5-5, 17 points) enjoy a bye this weekend and will not retake the field until July 7, when they take on the Reign in Seattle.

GOAL SUMMARY:

  1. Orlando Pride (Morgan 22′)
  2. Houston Dash (Ohai 79′)
  3. Houston Dash (Huerta 84′)

Allison Lee

Continue checking back as The Equalizer keeps you updated on all of tonight’s midweek action!

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