PORTLAND, Ore.- 10,886 fans witnessed an offensive explosion, as the Portland Thorns (7-2-1, 22pts.) defeated visiting FC Kansas City (3-3-1, 10pts.) 4-3 in at record-setting match that saw seven combined goals, with Thorns forward Alex Morgan and Blues midfielder Lauren Cheney each bagging a brace.
The Thorns got goals from Morgan in the 12th, midfielder Courtney Wetzel in the 19th minute, forward Dani Foxhoven in the 48th minute, and Allie Long in the 66th.
For FC Kansas City, Cheney scored on a 31st minute penalty kick and again in the 55th minute, and midfielder Erika Tymrak rounded out the scoring in the 81st minute.
The Thorns came out looking to push the Kansas City defense and almost had the opening goal in the 6th minute, as forward Christine Sinclair found herself on the receiving end of a corner kick, but it was saved off the line by midfielder Desiree Scott.
The Thorns didn’t have long to wonder what could have been. In the 12th minute, Morgan stole the ball from defender Becky Sauerbrunn, went 1v1 with goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart and fired the ball top shelf, scoring her fifth goal of the season.
The Thorns continued to push after the goal, clearly looking for more and didn’t have to wait long, as defender Marian Dougherty crossed the ball into midfielder Courtney Wetzel, who scored her first of the season, while Dougherty earned her first assist of the year.
“I think it was just a combination of good passing and moving and a great ball from Marian [Dougherty],” Wetzel said following the match. “It was pretty hard to miss, to be honest,”
Now down by two, the Blues became more assertive in their play, but they did not have much luck initially, using the speed of forward Renae Cuellar to poke at the Thorns defense, looking for a break that finally came, but it cost them. In the 31st minute, Cuellar made a break for goal, but got tangled up with Thorns defender Rachel Buehler in the penalty area, earning her team a penalty kick, but ending her night as she left with in injury after being attended to by medical.
After a several minute break, Cheney slotted the penalty kick past Thorns goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, who guessed left while Cheney went just right of center, her third goal of the season.
The goal energized the Blues, who became much more aggressive in their quest for an equalizer. While the Thorns controlled much of the first 30 minutes, the play was dictated more by the Blues after the goal, with Cheney hitting a curling free kick on goal, but LeBlanc was there to meet it and neither side broke through. The Thorns went into the break with a 2-1 lead.
The shot total was mostly even, with each team getting four shots on goal, while the Blues led with six total shots to five and had three corner kicks to the Thorns two.
The lone change coming out of the break was Foxhoven coming on for midfielder Mana Shim, and this move played immediate dividends, as she found the back of the net shortly after the opening whistle.
In the 48th minute, Morgan found Foxhoven on a cross in the box, scoring her second goal of the season and restoring the Thorns’ two goal lead. Morgan got her second assist of the year on the goal.
Kansas City wasn’t about to call it a day though. With momentum from the first half still on their side, they put the Thorns on their heels, looking to find another goal, as LeBlanc was forced to make another diving save.
It didn’t take long for the Blues to bring themselves a goal back. In the 58th minute, defender Leigh Ann Robinson sent the ball into Cheney, who shook her defender and beat LeBlanc with a point-blank shot, giving Cheney her fourth goal of the season, while Robinson got her third assist.
Not looking to be outdone by her United States Woman’s National Team teammate, Morgan almost bagged her second goal of the match in the 65th minute, bringing the ball into the 6-yard box and sending the shot home of a deflection by midfielder Allie Long. Morgan was originally credited with the goal however after the league reviewed the play, Long got credit and Morgan ended up with an assist.
“It feels good to be playing the way I have been,” Morgan said. “I just try to support my teammates as much as possible and not think about ‘okay, I have to score a goal.’ That’s when I kind of get in my own head. So it’s just working hard, putting the effort in. It really is contagious, showing your teammates that you want to work for them and they’ll want to do the same. I think that’s what happened tonight.”
With their backs against the wall, the Blues went all in on the attack, with Cheney having a couple of good chances that went off frame.
After several attempts, the Blues were finally able again to find the back of the net in the 81st minute, as midfielder Erika Tymrak hit a shot through a crowded penalty area that found the lower corner, her first goal of the season, while Cheney got her first assist of the night to go with her two goals.
“I let the pass go across my body and made one cut inside where I saw a lane,” Tymrak said. “I just took the shot and scored.”
Once again down by a goal, the Blues looked to find the equalizer, while the Thorns countered by trying to kill off the clock.
The Blues had a couple of good chances to pull level, with forward Courtney Jones taking a shot from distance that never stopped rising and, after a solid buildup of the attack, Cheney was flagged offside in their last solid attack.
The victory puts the Thorns in a top of the table tie with Sky Blue FC at 22 points, while the loss leaves the Blues in the middle of the pack at 10 points.
While neither coach was very impressed with their side’s defensive performance, but saw the positives from the high-scoring affair.
“I would prefer the score to be a little bit of a wider margin, but Kansas City is a tremendous team,” said Thorns head coach Cindy Parlow Cone. “They never say die, they fought to the end and scored some tremendous goals to put us under a ton of pressure. We had a little bit of a coming together this week, just talking about what we want to be as a team, who we want to be as individuals and what we want to represent on the field. Chicago coming here and beating us the way they did was a great wake-up call.”
“Portland is a good team and they played well tonight,” said Blues head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “I think our team stepped up though and played hard all the way to the end. We need to take the good things from tonight and improve on the bad things for Seattle.”
On the match, the Blues led the match in total shots, 17 to 11, while the Thorns had the edge on shots on goal, 9 to 8.
The Blues and Thorns will next meet on July 30 at Verizon Wireless Field for their third of four meeting of the season. The final meeting between these two budding rivals will be August 4 at JELD-WEN Field.
The Blues will now travel up Interstate 5 to take on the Seattle Reign (0-7-1, 1pt.) on Sunday at 7:00pm PDT (9:00pm CDT) in Tukwila, Washington, in their second of three matches away from Verizon Wireless Field. The Blues lead the season series 2-0-0 after victories on April 26 and May 4.
The Thorns will conclude their three match homestand by hosting Cascadia rival Seattle Reign in their third meeting of the season on June 16 at 2:00pm PDT. The Thorns defeated the Reign 2-1 on April 21 and again in controversial fashion on May 25 1-0, leading the season series 2-0-0.
Portland Thorns FC (7-2-1, 22pts) vs. FC Kansas City (3-3-1, 10pts)
June 6, 2013 – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
KC 1 2 3
POR 2 2 4
POR: Morgan (unassisted), 13
POR: Wetzel (Dougherty), 20
KC: Cheney (penalty kick), 34
POR: Foxhoven (Morgan), 48
KC: Cheney (Robinson), 56
POR: Long (Morgan), 66
KC: Tymrak (Robinson), 81
POR: Morgan (Caution), 80
KC: Mathias (Caution), 88
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc, D Marian Dougherty, D Kathryn Williamson, D Rachel Buehler, D Nikki Marshall, M Courtney Wetzel, M Meleana Shim (Danielle Foxhoven, 46), M Becky Edwards, M Allie Long (Jazmyne Avant, 84), F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan
Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, M Elizabeth Guess, M Angie Kerr, M Nikki Washington
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Morgan, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Morgan, 3); FOULS: 12 (Edwards, 3); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 5
KC: GK Nicole Barnhart, D Leigh Ann Robinson, D Jen Buczkowski, D Becky Sauerbrunn, D Merritt Mathias, M Sinead Farrelly, M Lauren Cheney, M Kristie Mewis, M Desiree Scott, F Erika Tymrak, F Renae Cuellar (Courtney Jones, 37)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Bianca Henninger, D Nia Williams, D Katie Kelly, F Melissa Henderson
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Cheney, 8); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Cheney, 3); FOULS: 10 (Two players tied, 3); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 3
Referee: Miguel Panduro, Jr.
Assistant Referees: Chris Hutchinson, Ronald Lagraff
Fourth Official: Farhad Dadkho
Weather: 77 degrees, partly cloudy
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial