Thorns FC is used to having a prominent presence in the U.S. women’s national team, which gives this week’s SheBelieves Cup a slightly different feel. Tobin Heath and Adrianna Franch were left out of Jill Ellis’ team because of injuries. Meghan Klingenberg, a World Cup-winning fullback, is not there, either, currently sitting at the very edge of the squad.
This time, the Thorns are represented by a more modest corps, although given her rise over the last year, Lindsey Horan’s role can no longer be called modest. Starting in midfield during the USWNT's 1-0, Thursday win over second-ranked Germany in Columbus, Ohio, Horan was one of six Americans to play a full 90 minutes.
The game was largely marred by the weather, with near-freezing temperatures at MAPFRE Stadium often accompanied by a light snow. The steady winds, too, played a prominent role, helping the U.S. in the first half while leading a moment of light comedy in the second.
In the 17th minute, an otherwise innocuous ball from U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher got an assist from the wind, falling toward Alex Morgan on the far end of the center circle. Her flick put left wing Megan Rapinoe past Germany right back Leonie Maier, who was left yards behind as Rapinoe raced in alone, putting the U.S. on the board.
The wind was more whimsical to the U.S. in the second half, though, after the teams switched sides. On a chance just after halftime, play focused on the right of the German box drew goalkeeper Almuth Schult out of her net. When a pass played toward the top of the penalty area found Horan alone, the Thorns star understandably chose placement over power, hoping to guide the ball home. The wind, however, had other ideas, eventually making Schult’s save for her when Horan’s shot fell short of goal.
Horan, however, wasn’t the only Thorn to feature on Thursday. Emily Sonnett, coming off a standout campaign in Australia’s W-League, entered the game in the 86th minute as the U.S. tried to hold its one-goal lead.
With three games over the span of seven days, the U.S. may need to rotate players, particularly given most of its squad have yet to start their club seasons. Already in form, Sonnett could see more time on Sunday, when the U.S. takes on France at Harrison, New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena.
Australians open with wild win over Norway
Two more Thorns are in action in Portugal, where the annual, 12-team Algarve Cup got underway on Wednesday. Although the day’s biggest news was the European champions, the Netherlands, blasting former world champions Japan, 6-2, Portland’s Australia contingent was involved in a goalfest of their own.
Ellie Carpenter, one of Thorns FC’s newest signings, started and want 90 minutes at right back for the Matildas, who found themselves down in the 11th minute after a goal from one of Carpenter’s Canberra United teammates, Elise Thorsnes. In response, though, the fourth-ranked Australians got goals from former Thorn Clare Polkinghorne (13’), Chloe Logarzo (24’) and NWSL star Sam Kerr (31’), taking a two-goal edge into intermission.
After halftime, though, Norway responded. A goal from Lisa Utland (52’) was followed by a converted penalty from Thorsnes, leaving a 3-3 tie that persisted well into stoppage time. There, however, former Seattle Reign forward Larissa Crummer scored a last-ditch goal, giving the Australians 4-3, 95th minute victory.
Hayley Raso, who has worked her way into a steady role for the Matildas, did not dress for Alen Stajcic’s side as she continues to tend to minor injuries carried over from her W-League season. On Friday, while Australia played hosts Portugal to a 0-0 draw, Raso was again left out of the team, while Carpenter persisted in the starting XI despite a rotated squad.
Elsewhere in Portugal, Christine Sinclair started at forward in Canada’s Algarve opener, the team’s first game under new head coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller. Unfortunately for the Canadians, two second half goals from Sweden condemned them to a 3-1 loss, with the side’s only goal coming in the first half from Sky Blue FC’s Janine Beckie.
In Canada's second Algarve Cup match, Sinclair opened the scoring on Friday with her 170th international goal, converting from the penalty spot her side a 25th minute lead over Russia. Canada went on to win the match, 1-0.