PORTLAND, Ore. – Behind a pair of first-half goals from midfielder Lindsey Horan and forward Christine Sinclair, Portland Thorns FC recorded their second consecutive shutout victory, defeating Utah Royals FC 2-0 in front of 15,113 fans at Providence Park on Friday night. Sinclair tallied her NWSL-leading sixth goal of the season, while Horan added her fourth goal of the campaign.
With the result, head coach Mark Parsons recorded his 50th career NWSL win in the match. Parsons is the third coach in league history to reach this milestone. In addition, the win was his 30th as head coach of Thorns FC.
Portland improved to 1-0-1 all-time against Utah with the win, improving to 6-1-1 in matches against NWSL teams in their first season. Thorns FC have outscored Royals FC 3-1 in their two meetings this season. Midfielder Tobin Heath and Sinclair each have a goal and an assist in two matches against Utah.
Sinclair and Horan have combined for 10 of Thorns FC’s 14 goals this season. Horan has tallied three of her four goals at Providence Park, while Sinclair has added four goals in five home matches this season for Portland.
Thorns FC opened the scoring with a quick counter in the 18th minute as Sinclair recorded her NWSL-leading sixth goal of the season. Defender Ellie Carpenter delivered a quick pass to Sinclair running down the center of the field. Sinclair turned and hit a one-touch pass to Heath surging down the left flank. Heath waited and cut back towards the middle of the field, slotting a perfect pass to Sinclair making a late run into the box and Sinclair fired her shot off the left post and into the goal.
Portland nearly doubled its lead in the 36th minute when Sinclair settled a bouncing ball in the box after Carpenter delivered a cross from the right side. Sinclair hit a powerful shot through traffic off the bounce, but Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith made a last-ditch kick save to deny Sinclair. The ball landed for Heath at the left post and defender Becky Sauerbrunn made a goal-line stop, blocking Heath’s attempt with her face.
Remaining on the attack, Thorns FC took a 2-0 lead in the 39th minute as Horan tallied her fourth goal of the season. Defender Meghan Klingenberg delivered a pinpoint cross from the left wing for Horan making a run into the box towards the right post. Horan then hit a one-time shot from close range into the back of the net.
Thorns FC kept Utah off the board late in the first half. Klingenberg stepped in and made a critical play, clearing a looping shot by Royals FC forward Amy Rodriguez off the goal line from close range in the 45th minute.
Looking for a third goal early in the second half, Sinclair started the break for Portland. Dribbling down field, Sinclair hit a well-weighted pass into the box for forward Ana Crnogorcevic making a run in behind the Utah backline. Crnogorcevic fired a shot towards the left side of the goal, but a Utah player slid in and deflected the shot out for a corner kick in the 48th minute.
Crnogorcevic came close again in the 72nd minute of the match. Klingenberg played Heath out wide and she served a cross from the left into the box for Crnogorcevic, who timed her run perfectly at the near post with a diving header on frame that was saved at point-blank range by Smith.
Sinclair nearly added another goal in the 87th minute after receiving a pass from Heath at the edge of the box, unleashing a powerful strike that Smith tipped just over the crossbar.
Goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom earned her second clean sheet of the season, making a late save as she dove to her left to deny Rodriguez from inside the box in second-half stoppage time.
Portland Thorns FC (4-3-3, 15pts) vs. Utah Royals FC (2-2-5, 11pts)
May 25, 2018 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland Thorns FC 2 0 2
Utah Royals FC 0 0 0
POR: Sinclair (Heath), 18
POR: Horan (Klingenberg), 39
POR: Horan (caution), 67
UTAH: Corsie (caution), 69
UTAH: Jonsdottir (caution), 83
POR: GK Eckerstrom, D Purce, D Reynolds, D Menges, D Klingenberg, M Andressinha (Salem, 58), M Horan, M Carpenter (Hubly, 63), M Sinclair ©, M Heath, F Crnogorcevic (Onumonu, 83)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Gay, M Boureille, F Weber, F Lussi
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Sinclair, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Sinclair, 3); FOULS: 12 (Four players tied, 2), OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 2
UTAH: GK Smith, D Elby (Bowen, 78), D Corsie, D Sauerbrunn ©, D Moros, M Scott, M Jonsdottir, M Gorry, F Matheson (Stengel, 78), F Rodriguez, F Tymrak (Thorsnes, 63)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Barnhart, D Miramontez, M LaBonta, M Lytle
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Rodriguez, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Rodriguez, 2); FOULS: 13 (Jonsdottir, 4); OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 1; SAVES: 3
Referee: Lukasz Szpala
Assistant Referees: Chris Elliott, Kelsey Hrams
4th Official: JJ Blodgett
Weather: Partly cloudy, 66 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial