OVERLAND PARK, KS – In the much anticipated opening match of the inaugural, a sold out crowd of 6,784 were given were treated to a back and forth match between two early favorites to compete for the NWSL crown.

Kansas City (0-0-1, 1pts) came pressing out of the gate, and it paid off quickly.  In the 3rd minute, forward Renae Cuellar slipped past the Portland (0-0-1, 1pts) defense off a long pass down the left side of the field and slotted the ball home past Thorns goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, giving her the first goal in NWSL history.

Giving up an early goal appeared to put the Thorns back on their heels. Instead of playing a calm, controlled style of play, they looked shell-shocked, frantically booting the ball down field with the hope to connect with their potent strike tandem, or giving up easy turnovers.  Using this to their advantage, Kansas City looked to be the antithesis of the Thorns, playing with a calm, collected manner that allowed them to dominate much of the play during the rest of the first half.

Using the break to make tactical adjustments, both teams came out playing a slightly different tactics.  Portland, looking to at least equalize the game, calmed down their pace a looked more controlled in their play, while Kansas City took a more defensive posture, absorbing the Portland attacked. That changed in the 67th minute.

Still down 1-nil, Thorns midfielder Allie Long slotted the ball to recent substitute forward Danielle Foxhoven at the top of the penalty box.  As Foxhoven collected the ball and looked to shoot, Kansas City defender Lauren Sesselmann took her down in the box, leading to the first penalty kick in NWSL history, which was calmly shot in the right corner by forward Christine Sinclair, leveling the game at 1-1.

While both teams looked to take control of the game in the last 20 minutes, neither team was able to put together much of an attack, leaving them settle with a single point.

Kansas City is home again next week to face the Boston Breakers on Saturday, April 20th at 7:35pm (CDT) at Shawnee Mission District Stadium, while Portland will play host to Cascadian rival Seattle Reign (0-0-0, 0 pts) on Sunday, April 21st at 2:00pm (PDT).  Both matches will be streamed live from the respective team websites.

MATCH REPLAY

Portland Thorns FC (0-0-1, 1pts) at FC Kansas City (0-0-1, 1pts) 

April 13, 2013 – Shawnee Mission District Stadium (Overland Park, Kan.)

Goals by Half              1          2          F
KC                               1          0          1
POR                             0          1          1

Scoring Summary

KC – Cuellar (Mewis) 3rd minute
POR – Sinclair (penalty kick) 67

Misconduct Summary

KC – Mewis (caution) 43
POR – Washington (caution) 70
POR – Williamson (caution) 82

Lineups & Stats

POR: GK Karina LeBlanc; D Marian Dougherty, D Rachel Buehler, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall (Emilee O’Neil, 61); M Becky Edwards, M Allie Long, M Angie Kerr (Danielle Foxhoven, 64); F Nikki Washington (Courtney Wetzel, 90), F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, M Meleana Shim

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Morgan, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Sinclair, 2); FOULS: 13 (Long, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2

KC: GK Nicole Barnhart; D Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), D Leigh Ann Robinson, D Lauren Sesselmann, D, Jen Buczkowski; M Casey Loyd (Courtney Jones, 72), M Merritt Mathias (Katie Kelly, 77), M Desiree Scott, M Kristie Mewis (Erika Tymrak, 81), M Lauren Cheney (capt.); F Renae Cuellar

Substitutes Not Used: GK Bianca Henninger, D Nia Williams, F Melissa Henderson

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Two players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three tied with 1); FOULS: 11 (Two players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3

Referee: Kari Seitz
Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Kyle Atkins
Fourth Official: Jon Freemon
Attendance: 6,784
Weather: 64 degrees, partly cloudy

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial