Midfielder Allie Long scored in a second
straight match, converting a penalty kick in the second half, to help Portland
Thorns FC earn a point on the road in a comeback, 1-1 draw against Sky Blue FC
at Yurcak Field on Saturday evening.
Thorns FC (1-0-1, 4pts) had the better of the chances throughout the match, but Sky Blue FC, playing in their home opener, claimed the lead off a corner kick in the 25th minute on a goal by Christie Rampone. Portland controlled the run of play in the second half and leveled the score in the 75th minute on a penalty kick after Sky Blue FC (0-0-2, 2pts) was called for a handball in the box. Thorns FC outshot Sky Blue FC, 18-10, and held a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks.
With the draw, Thorns FC open the 2014 regular season with back-to-back results on the road, and are unbeaten in their last six away matches dating back to the end of the 2013 NWSL season.
Sky Blue FC had its best scoring chances of the night on set pieces, and the home side capitalized on a corner kick in the 25th minute to take the lead. A corner kick by midfielder Katy Freels found Sophie Schmidt on the near post, and Schmidt flicked the ball on to the back side. The ball nicked off the right post and Rampone knocked the ball over the goal line for her first NWSL goal.
Portland's defense held Sky Blue FC to four shots on goal throughout the match. Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer recorded two saves and defender Emily Menges blocked a pointblank shot on goal in the first half.
Thorns FC pressured Sky Blue FC from the opening whistle of the second half. After multiple quality looks on goal, Portland earned a penalty kick 15 minutes from time after a Sky Blue FC player was called for handball inside the penalty area. Long stepped up and calmly slotted the ball down the left side of the goal as Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Jill Loyden dove the other way, tying the score at 1-1.
On the road for a second straight match to open the regular season, the Thorns FC attack got started early as Long had a chance from the top of the six-yard box in the third minute blocked. Loyden made two saves in the first half, as forwards Jessica McDonald and Christine Sinclair had shots from around the area stopped in the 16th and 36th minutes, respectively. Looking for the equalizer late in the first half, Sinclair had a look from close range off a corner kick that she lifted over the mark in the 43rd minute.
Before Portland found the equalizer, a cross in from defender Courtney Niemiec found McDonald wide open near the penalty spot and McDonald clipped her shot high. Long then forced Loyden into a save in the 70th minute as Long's shot from just beyond the top left corner of the box bounced in on the left post.
Sky Blue FC had a chance to steal all three points in second-half stoppage time with a penalty kick attempt, as Portland was called for a handball inside the box following a corner kick. Kelley O'Hara, who had a shot on target saved in the 87th minute, took the attempt and missed her shot wide left.
Thorns FC return to the Rose City for their 2014 home opener on Saturday, April 26, as they play host to FC Kansas City at Providence Park at 7 p.m. (Pacific).
Release from Portland Thorns.