Portland Thorns FC stormed out of the gate with a goal barely a minute into the match and went on to pummel Utah Royals FC, 4-0 Friday night at Providence Park. The result boosted the Thorns into third place in the NWSL table which is tight enough that they could fall back to fifth by the end of play Saturday night. The Royals slipped to sixth and their defense dropped from first to third in goals against average.
The only downside on the evening for the Thorns was an injury taken by Midge Purce on a late tackle from behind from Diana Matheson just before halftime. Purce attempted to walk off on her own power, had to be helped to the far sideline and then left the field on a stretcher after the halftime whistle. Matheson was shown a yellow card for the tackle.
Tobin Heath got the scoring underway for the Thorns after Purce ran on to a sloppy midfield pass by the Royals in the opening minute. Heath dribbled in space, then cut between two Royals defenders and gave it to Ana Crnogorcevic who had her back to goal. Crnogorcevic calmly hit it back to Heath who looped a shot over Abby Smith and in for a goal officially credited in the 2nd minute.
The Royals looked like they were finally getting their teeth into the match when, just after the half hour mark, Sam Johnson was booked for tugging down Purce from behind. Heath stepped into the set piece and drove it into the penalty area where Lindsey Horan was somehow the one to get a head on it and drove it into the goal for a two-goal lead.
Two minutes later the Thorns turned it into a route. Horan took the ball cleanly from Desiree Scott and her attempt to play a through-ball was deflected by Utah’s Katrina Gorry right into the path of Crnogorcevic whose finish was clinical and the lead was three.
It never looked like the Royals were going to make a match of it after halftime. The Thorns added a fourth when Tyler Lussi replaced Heath and scored right away thanks to another potent trough-ball from Horan.
The Thorns (6-5-5, 23 pts) moved into third place but will be in fifth by the end of Saturday if the Chicago Red Stars win and the Orlando Pride draw or win. The Thorns’s next match is Sunday, July 15 at home to the Houston Dash. The Royals (5-4-6, 21 pts) drop to sixth. They are at Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday for head coach Laura Harvey’s return to the city where she coached for five seasons.
- Portland Thorns FC (Heath, 2′)
- Portland Thorns FC (Horan, 32′)
- Portland Thorns FC (Crnogorcevic, 34′)
- Portland Thorns FC (Lussi, 62′)
— Dan Lauletta