Tyler Lussi, celebrate, Thorns vs. Chicago, 3.24.19

PORTLAND, Ore. – Playing their first match of the Thorns Spring Invitational presented by Tillamook, Portland Thorns FC recorded a 2-1 win against the Chicago Red in front of 3,420 fans at Merlo Field on Sunday evening. Tyler Lussi tallied the first goal of the match, while Christine Sinclair notched the game-winner in the 76th minute.

In the first game of the tournament, Reign FC earned a 2-1 win over the U.S. U-23s. Seattle received goals from Darian Jenkins and Allie Long to secure the win.

Game format
Portland opened its preseason with the first of three matches at the Thorns Spring Invitational presented by Tillamook on Sunday night. In total, 17 players saw action in the game. Additionally, Tobin Heath and Emily Sonnett recorded their first assists of the preseason tournament.

Key chances
Thorns FC grabbed an early lead in the sixth minute on a set piece. Heath delivered an in-swinging corner kick and Emily Sonnett re-directed the ball with a backheel flick toward goal for Lussi, who converted from close range.

Heath nearly added to Portland’s lead in the 10th minute. Winning the ball near midfield, she weaved her way through traffic down field and fired a powerful long-range strike on target, forcing a save by Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

Continuing to create chances, Sonnett was able to get on the end of another set piece in the 28th minute. Heath served a ball into the center of the box and Lindsey Horan flicked the ball on for Sonnett, but her sliding shot went just wide of the right post.

In the 39th minute, Heath played a bending free kick into the box from the left wing for Sonnett, who sent a shot from a tight angle that was saved by Naeher at the left post.

Two minutes later, Meghan Klingenberg dropped a pinpoint cross from the left wing into the box for Sinclair near the penalty spot, but Naeher made the save in the 41st minute.

Thorns FC goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom kept Chicago off the board with a diving stop in the 49th minute on a dipping strike from Julie Ertz near the edge of the box.

Chicago leveled the match in the 54th minute on a corner kick. Kayla Sharples deposited a header into the back of the net at the right post.

Thorns FC came close to reclaiming the lead in the 56th minute on a corner kick. Driving the ball to the left post, Horan flashed in front of her defender and sent a glancing header toward goal that bounced off the post.

In the 69th minute, Chicago’s Maria Sanchez sent a looping shot from the far left wing toward the right post, but Eckerstrom tracked back and tipped the ball off the post to make the save.

Thorns FC tallied the game-winner in 76th minute. Working the ball down the right side of the field, Mallory Weber played a ball into space for Heath making a run down the field. Dribbling into the box, Heath picked out Sinclair on the left side of the box and she finished inside the right post.

Next Game
Next up, Thorns FC will square off against the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team on Wednesday, March 27; kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (Pacific). 

Portland Thorns FC vs. Chicago Red Stars (NWSL Preseason) 
March 24, 2019 – Merlo Field (Portland, Ore.)

Goals by Half                            1          2          F
Portland Thorns FC                   1          1          2         
Chicago Red Stars                    0          1          1          

Scoring Summary:
POR: Lussi (Sonnett), 6
CHI: Sharples (Sanchez), 54
POR: Sinclair (Heath), 76

Misconduct Summary:

POR: GK Eckerstrom, D Carpenter (Hubly, 46, Reynolds, 75), D Sonnett, D Seiler, D Klingenberg (Pogarch, 61), M Boureille, M Horan (Brynjarsdottir, 61), M Sinclair ©, F Lussi (Weber, 72), F Crnogorcevic (Onumonu, 90), F Heath

CHI: GK Naeher, D Short, D Naughton, D Davidson, D Sharples, M Ertz ©, M Colaprico (Stanton, 46), M Nagasato, F Vasconcelos (Goralski, 70), F Sanchez (Gorden, 70), F Kerr (Johnson, 46)

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.