NWSL MATCH RECAP | Portland Thorns FC 2, North Carolina Courage 1

Portland records two second-half goals to secure win at Providence Park in front of 25,218 fans

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC rallied back after allowing an early goal, creating two second-half goals to earn a 2-1 against the North Carolina Courage in front of a sellout crowd – the largest crowd in NWSL history of 25,218 fans – on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park. 

Attendance leaders
Sunday’s match featured an NWSL single-game record crowd of 25,218 fans – the first sellout for Thorns FC following the recent transformation of Providence Park, featuring the addition of more than 4,000 new seats. The attendance number surpasses the previous single-game attendance record of 23,403 fans set by the Orlando Pride on April 23, 2016. It is also the largest crowd on record for a Thorns FC match in club history, breaking the previous record of 22,329 fans set on July 24, 2019. Notably, it ranks as the second-largest crowd for a standalone match in the history of U.S. women’s professional soccer, trailing only the record-setting crowd of 34,148 fans at the inaugural match of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) on April 14, 2001, at RFK Stadium between the Washington Freedom and the Bay Area CyberRays.

Home fortress
With the win, Portland (8-3-6, 30pts) is unbeaten in its last four home matches, with a record of 3-0-1. In seven home matches this season, Portland has outscored its opponents 15-5, posting a record of 4-1-2. Dating back to 2016, Thorns FC have scored 87 goals at Providence Park, which ranks as the most goals in home matches by any team in the NWSL during that span. 

Key plays
North Carolina grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute of the match. Kristen Hamilton delivered a cross from the right side of the field to the center of the box. Portland cleared the initial ball but it took a deflection and landed for Crystal Dunn, who converted from close range.

Portland nearly tied the match in the 30th minute. Elizabeth Ball served a pinpoint cross from the right wing into the box for Lindsey Horan, who sent a header from close range just inches wide of the left post.

In the 35th minute, Thorns FC created a turnover in North Carolina’s half of the field. Dagny Brynjarsdottir played the ball to Horan, who dribbled to the edge of the box and slotted a pass out wide to Heath making a run down the left side of the box. Heath dribbled toward goal and fired a shot from a tight angle at the left post, forcing a kick save by Courage goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe.

Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch came up with a key save in the 41st minute. Dunn picked up a loose ball outside Portland’s box and cut back toward the center of the box, unleashing a long range strike, but Franch jumped to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Pushing for the equalizer, Heath and Midge Purce combined down the left side of the box. Purce received the initial pass from Heath and laid it off for Heath making a run into the box. Heath fired a shot a shot from near the left post, but Labbe made the save in the 55th minute.

Thorns FC tied the match at 1-1 in the 56th minute of the match. Emily Sonnett won the ball outside the box with a sliding tackle, making a pass to Ball on the right wing. Ball served a looping cross into the box near the penalty spot and Labbe came off her line to catch the ball, but it went through her hands and bounced into the back of the net.

Franch made another key save in the 63rd minute to keep North Carolina from scoring a second goal. Lynn Williams found space running down the left side of the box and hit a shot from near the left post, forcing Franch quickly off her line to deflect the attempt with her left hand.

In the 75th minute, Christine Sinclair started the break for Portland, playing a pass to Heath running down the left side. Heath played a well-weighted pass in between two defenders to Hayley Raso near the penalty spot. Raso attempted to touch the ball around Labbe rushing off her line, but the ball was deflected wide and cleared by the Courage.

Searching for the game-winner, Heath played a ball along the left edge of the box for Sinclair, who delivered a cross to Raso making a run to the edge of the six-yard box. Raso took a quick shot and Jaelene Hinkle deflected the initial attempt, which bounced off Abby Erceg and over the goal line to put Thorns FC in front 2-1 in the 82nd minute.

Franch, who finished the match with 10 saves, made several key stops in the final minutes of the match. In the 87th minute, she denied Jessica McDonald’s header at point-blank range near the right post with a diving stop and just one minute later batted a ball over the top of the goal on a shot from by Hamilton from inside the box near the right post. 

Next match
Remaining at home, Thorns FC play host to the Washington Spirit on Saturday, Aug. 17, at Providence Park. Beginning at 7:30 p.m. (Pacific), the match will be broadcast on Yahoo! Sports.

Portland Thorns FC (8-3-6, 30pts) vs. North Carolina Courage (8-4-4, 28pts)

Aug. 11, 2019 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)

Goals by Half                              1          2          F
Portland Thorns FC                     0          2          2
North Carolina Courage               1          0          1 

Scoring Summary:
NCC: Dunn (Williams), 4
POR: Own goal (Labbe), 56
POR: Own goal (Erceg), 82

Misconduct Summary:
POR: Foord (caution), 19

POR: GK Franch, D Ball (Carpenter, 85), D Sonnett, D Menges, D Reynolds, M Brynjarsdottir, M Horan, M Sinclair ©, F Charley (Purce, 46), F Foord (Raso, 46), F Heath

Substitutes Not Used: GK Eckerstrom, D Klingenberg, M Andressinha, M Seiler 

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Three players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Heath, 2); FOULS: 10 (Four players tied, 2), OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 10

NCC: GK Labbe, D Mathias, D Dahlkemper, D Erceg ©, D Hinkle, M Mewis (Zerboni, 70), M Sullivan (O’Reilly, 89), M Dunn, M Debinha, F Williams (McDonald, 70), F Hamilton

Substitutes Not Used: GK Rowland, D Kurtz, D Roccaro, M Speck

TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (Dunn, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 11 (Dunn, 3); FOULS: 10 (Mathias, 4), OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 4

Referee: Jon Freemon
Assistant Referees: Salma Perez, Melissa Beck
4th Official: Sya Magee
Attendance: 25,218
Weather: Cloudy, 68 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial