PORTLAND, Ore. - Three unanswered goals, including back-to-back tallies in an eight-minute span during the second-half, helped propel Portland Thorns FC to a 3-1, come-from-behind win over Sky Blue FC before 13,769 fans at JELD-WEN Field on beautiful summer Wednesday night.
The win puts Portland (10-4-4, 34pts) alone in second place in the National Women's Soccer League standings as Thorns FC became the second team in the league to capture its 10th win of the season. Portland, which is unbeaten in four straight games, is now just one point shy of first-place FC Kansas City, who visits the Rose City on Sunday for a nationally televised match on FOX Soccer at JELD-WEN Field; kickoff is 5:30 p.m. (Pacific).
Midfielder Meleana Shim netted her fourth goal in as many games, with the eventual game-winning goal in the 65th minute. After defender Marian Dougherty delivered a long cross to forward Alex Morgan at the left edge of the penalty box, Morgan raced toward the goal and saw her initial shot saved at close range by Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Jill Loyden. The rebound fell to Morgan and her follow-up attempt was deflected into the path of Shim, who buried the go-ahead goal from five yards out.
Thorns FC attempted season-highs with 25 shots, including 13 on goal. Loyden made nine saves for Sky Blue FC (9-6-4, 31pts), while Portland goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc stopped four shots.
Despite sustained offensive pressure from Thorns FC in the first 10 minutes, Sky Blue FC struck against the run of play on a free kick in the 17th minute. Midfielder Katy Freels delivered a free kick from nearly 25 yards away from goal that deflected off Portland defender Nikki Marshall while she jumped to block the shot. Marshall redirected the ball with her head over LeBlanc's outstretched arms for the game's opening goal.
Morgan equalized for Thorns FC nearly 20 minutes later when a long pass from Shim made it through the left side of the Sky Blue FC defense. Morgan raced onto the pass and deposited her team-leading seventh goal of the season into the back of the net after freezing Loyden with a hesitation move inside the box. Thorns FC capitalized for the goal while Sky Blue FC was down a player as defender Danesha Adams was off the field receiving treatment for an injury.
Portland saw a close chance for the go-ahead goal turned away in first-half stoppage time as Shim had a shot saved and Marshall sent a sliding attempt wide of the mark.
Thorns FC had the bulk of the offensive momentum in the second half as they held Sky Blue FC to just five shots (2 on goal) over the final 45 minutes. LeBlanc was called into duty when Sky Blue FC forward Monica Ocampo ran onto a long ball over the top of the Thorns FC defense and found herself in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper. LeBlanc closed down the angle and turned away Ocampo's hard shot from close range, keeping the game level at 1-1 in the 54th minute.
Following Shim's go-ahead goal, midfielder Allie Long added an insurance goal in the 73rd minute, beating Loyden with a curling shot from the left side of the penalty box into the far upper corner of the goal. The goal, which was initiated by a throw-in from midfielder Tobin Heath, was Long's third of the season.
Despite the two-goal lead, Thorns FC continued the pressure as Morgan had two more close looks inside the final 10 minutes of the match. Loyden stopped another close-range attempt in the 80th minute and a drive from just outside the box was palmed onto the crossbar in the 81st minute.
Thorns FC play host to FC Kansas City for the chance to capture first place in the standings in a nationally televised match on FOX Soccer on Sunday at JELD-WEN Field; kickoff is 5:30 p.m. The Portland Timbers Reserves face Vancouver Whitecaps FC Reserves in MLS Reserve League action at JELD-WEN Field at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Fans who have purchased a ticket to the Timbers Reserves game or the Thorns FC match will be granted entry to both games. Tickets for Sunday's game are available at the JELD-WEN Field box office, online at www.portlandthornsfc.com, or by calling a ticket sales representative at 503-553-5555.
Portland Thorns FC (10-4-4, 34pts) vs. Sky Blue FC (9-6-4, 31pts)
July 31, 2013 — JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland Thorns FC 1 2 3
Sky Blue FC 1 0 1
SBFC: Own Goal (Marshall), 17
POR: Morgan (Shim), 36
POR: Shim, 65
POR: Long (Heath), 73
POR: Heath (Caution), 30
POR: Morgan (Caution), 56
SBFC: Goodson (Caution), 87
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc; D Marian Dougherty (Casey Ramirez, 84), D Kathryn Williamson, D Rachel Buehler, D Nikki Marshall; M Tobin Heath, M Allie Long, M Meleana Shim (Courtney Wetzel, 77), F Danielle Foxhoven, F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan
Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, D Tina Ellertson, D Emilee O’Neil, M Angie Kerr, F Tiffany Weimer
TOTAL SHOTS: 25 (Morgan, 8); SHOTS ON GOAL: 13 (Morgan, 6); FOULS: 7 (Morgan, 3); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 4
SBFC: GK Jillian Loyden, D Danesha Adams (Lindsi Lisonbee-Cutshall, 38), D Courtney Goodson, D Christie Rampone (capt.), D Kendall Johnson, M Nayeli Rangel (Lisa De Vanna, 56), M Brittany Bock, M Sophie Schmidt, M Taylor Lytle, F Katy Freels, F Monica Ocampo (Maddie Thompson, 82)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Brittany Cameron, D Melanie Booth,
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Freels, Ocampo, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Ocampo, 2); FOULS: 7 (Bock, Freels, Rangel, 2); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 9
Referee: Margaret Domka
Assistant Referees: Deleana Quan, Farhad Dadkho
Fourth Official: Andrew Brooks
Weather: Mostly sunny, 75 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial