PORTLAND, Ore. — An 80th-minute goal by second-half substitute midfielder Taylor Lytle guided Sky Blue FC to a 1-0 win over Portland Thorns FC on Thursday night before 11,055 fans at JELD-WEN Field.
With 10 minutes remaining in the second half, Sky Blue FC earned a free kick near the center circle. Following a short pass on the restart, defender Courtney Goodson delivered the ball to Lytle 25 yards from goal. The midfielder, who entered the match in the 78th minute for Portland native Kendall Johnson, took a well-struck shot from outside the box and scored into the upper left side of the goal.
After suffering their first loss of the season, Thorns FC (4-1-1, 13pts) drops to second place in the National Women’s Soccer League despite being tied on points with Sky Blue FC (4-1-1, 13pts). Sky Blue holds the advantage with a lead in the head-to-head series, the league's first tiebreaker, before goal differential. Portland’s season-opening, five-game unbeaten streak ended as Thorns FC were held scoreless for the first time in six games this season.
Forward Alex Morgan attempted a team-high five shots (2 on goal) and forward Christine Sinclair took four shots (2 on goal), but Thorns FC’s comeback attempt fell short despite several good opportunities in the waning minutes.
Morgan, who had scored a goal in consecutive games entering Thursday’s match, saw a 90th-minute shot saved by Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron and a header flash wide in what proved to be Portland’s final attempt on goal in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.
Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made five saves as New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC finished with a 13-11 advantage in shots, including a 6-5 lead on goal.
Portland maintained the majority of possession throughout the first half and saw an immediate scoring opportunity inside the opening 70 seconds. Midfielder Meleana Shim found Sinclair on the left side of the box and the Canadian international forward’s right-footed effort bounced just wide of the far post.
LeBlanc stopped four shots in the first half as Sky Blue FC attempted several shots from distance during the opening 45 minutes.
Second-half substitute forward Danielle Foxhoven created a number of chances for Thorns FC after entering the match in the 63rd minute. The former University of Portland standout combined with midfielder Allie Long on a short corner kick in the 67th minute, finding Morgan near the top edge of the penalty box. Morgan’s right-footed drive sailed just over the crossbar.
Minutes later, Foxhoven took a pass from the left side and delivered a cross that found Morgan for an open shot near the penalty spot, but the forward’s header was saved by Cameron.
In a quick turnaround, Thorns FC play host to the Washington Spirit on Sunday at JELD-WEN Field in the club’s second home match in a four-day span; kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. (Pacific).
Sunday’s match marks the second meeting between Thorns FC and the Spirit this season. On May 4, Morgan and midfielder Nikki Washington tallied goals in a 2-1 road win against the Spirit at Maryland SoccerPlex.
Portland Thorns FC (4-1-1, 13pts) vs. Sky Blue FC (4-1-1, 13pts)
May 16, 2013 – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
SKY 0 1 1
POR 0 0 0
SKY — Lytle (Goodson) 80
POR — Sinclair (caution) 79
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc; D Marian Dougherty, D Rachel Buehler, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall, M Becky Edwards, M Allie Long, M Meleana Shim (Danielle Foxhoven, 63), M Nikki Washington (Angie Kerr, 85), F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan
Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, D Jazmyne Avant, M Elizabeth Guess, M Courtney Wetzel, F Jessica Shufelt
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Morgan, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Morgan/Sinclair, 2); FOULS: 5 (Morgan, 2); OFFSIDES: 8; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 5
SKY: GK Brittany Cameron, D Christie Rampone (capt.), D Caitlin Foord, D Courtney Goodson, D Kendall Johnson (Taylor Lytle, 78), M Manya Makoski, M Sophie Schmidt, M Katy Freels, F Danesha Adams (Maddie Thompson, 90), F Kelley O’Hara, F Lisa De Vanna
Substitutes Not Used: GK Jill Loyden, M Brittany Bock, D Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall, F Monica Ocampo
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (De Vanna, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (De Vanna/Freels, 2); FOULS: 11 (Three players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 5
Referee: Josh Wilkens
Assistant Referees: Veronica Perez, Farhad Dadkho
Fourth Official: Ronald Lagraff
Weather: 55 degrees, cloudy
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial