Portland Thorns 4-0 Rout Chicago Red Stars Image Gallery
The Portland Thorns returned to portray its image as one of the NWSL’s dominant forces in a 4-0 show that delighted the fans on Sunday, May 21st, at Providence Park, in Portland, OR. It was a tale of two opposing realities in NWSL.
Portland controlled the entirety of the match and while Chicago was able at times to approach with some shadow of danger to the goal defended by Bella Bixby, the show was all Thorns.
Chicago came prepared to defend against an aggressive team, and focused on an effective marking of forwards Sophia Smith and Morgan Weaver. The Thorns attacking duo was very active, but had a lot of trouble finding spaces to set up and find chances to score on international goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
The problem for Chicago was that Portland attacks as a block, and while they made it difficult to the Portland attackers, midfielders like Olivia Moultrie and Crystal Dunn were given plenty of space to play on. The first goal didn’t wait too long and it came after a set piece when defender Keli Hubly completed a precise pass to the far post by Sam Coffey.
Six minutes later, Hina Sugita placed a through ball to the center of the box to find Crystal Dunn free of mark who drilled Portland’s second of the afternoon. Two minutes later, it was now Crystal Dunn just outside the box to find Olivia Moultrie who had run free of mark to the center of the box to put a virtual end to the match. 3-0 for the Portland Thorns in under 20 minutes.
Chicago was stunned, Moultrie’s unchallenged run to the center of the box broke them, and for the rest of the half it looked as some new scoring record was about to be set. However, Chicago stuck to their system, and eventually was able to settle in and started to try to bring their game on. Portland, slowed down a notch and allowed Chicago some control of the ball, still they looked dangerous every time they crossed midfield.
The second half, followed a very similar pattern to the first half. Chicago was far from generating any reaction, and the Thorns didn’t wait too long to extent their advantage. Just like the first goal, a set piece, this time a corner, midfielder Sam Coffey served again to the far post finding Natalia Kuikka’s header past Chicago Red Stars keeper Alyssa Naeher.
The rest of the second half followed the same pattern of a dull Chicago and a dominating Portland. The Thorns were now giving minutes to the bench, with defender Reyna Reyes, midfielder Michele Vaconcelos, and forward Izzy D’Aquila, and football’s greatest goal scorer Christine Sinclair taking the lead. The danger kept coming to Chicago’s box, but the score didn’t move past the 4-0.
After Sunday’s win, Portland sits second on the league’s table, one point below the leaders Gotham FC, and edging San Diego Wave in the goal difference. The Thorns are the top scoring team with a goal average of +12, followed by San Diego with +5. They will be traveling to San Diego to play them on Friday, May 26, in what can be a potentially table altering match.
Chicago Red Stars tells a complete opposing story, with a goal average of -11 (four of them on Sunday), and sunk in the bottom of the table with just 4 points, two below Kansas City Current. They will be hosting Orlando Pride on Friday, May 27. It will be a complicated match, Orlando hasn’t had the desired start to the season will be looking to not loose pace in the play off race.