PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Portland Thorns FC scored a pair of goals in a three-minute span in the opening seven minutes of the match to earn their third consecutive win, defeating Sky Blue FC 2-1 at Yurcak Field on Saturday night. Hayley Raso scored her first goal of the season, while Ana Crnogorcevic tallied the game-winning goal with her fifth of the season. With the win, Portland is tied for third place in the NWSL standings on 29 points, moving into a top-four playoff position with five games remaining on the regular-season schedule.
Crnogorcevic in form
With her goal in the seventh minute, Crnogorcevic scored for a third straight match. The Thorns FC forward made her 10th consecutive start in the match, tallying four goals and two assists during that span. In her last six matches, Crnogorcevic has four goals and an assist. In addition, Crnogorcevic has been key on the road, scoring three of her five goals away from Providence Park.
Thorns FC firsts
Raso tallied her first goal of the season in her seventh appearance, recording the opening goal of the game in the fourth minute. She is the ninth player to score a goal for Thorns FC this season. Making her fifth appearance for Portland, Angela Salem earned her first career start for Thorns FC in the match, logging 84 minutes.
Against Sky Blue FC
Portland registered its third straight win on the road against Sky Blue FC, dating back to the 2016 season. In those three matches, Thorns FC have outscored Sky Blue FC, 7-2. Portland has earned at least one point in five of its last six matches (4-1-1) against Sky Blue FC. With the win, Thorns FC evened the all-time series at 6-6-3 and improved to 3-2-2 on the road.
Thorns FC opened the scoring with a goal less than five minutes into the match. Creating pressure in Sky Blue FC’s half of the field, Christine Sinclair and Crnogorcevic caused a turnover. Sinclair picked up the loose ball and played a pass into space for Raso making a run into the box. Raso cut back toward the center of the goal and fired a shot from off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net in the fourth minute for her first goal of the season.
Portland doubled its lead in the seventh minute as Crnogorcevic tallied her fifth goal of the season. Raso pressured Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Caroline Casey after she received a pass inside the box. Raso’s pressure forced an errant pass right to Crnogorcevic waiting near the edge of the box. Crnogorcevic settled the ball and calmly slotted her shot inside the left post.
Sky Blue FC cut Thorns FC’s lead to 2-1 in the 27th minute. Savannah McCaskill played a through ball in behind Portland’s backline and Imani Dorsey slipped into the space, firing a shot just inside of the box that deflected off Portland goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom coming off her line and into the back of the net.
Thorns FC generated another quality scoring chance late in the first half. Raso slipped into a pocket of space and got in behind the Sky Blue FC defense. Sinclair delivered a well-weighted pass for Raso running down the left side. Raso cut back towards the center of the box and sent a curling strike towards the right corner of the goal that went just over the crossbar in the 44th minute.
In first-half stoppage time, midfielder Andressinha served a corner kick into the box from the left corner. The ball took several deflections before bouncing to defender Katherine Reynolds, who sent a chipped shot inside the box just wide of the target.
Second-half substitute Tyler Lussi created a scoring opportunity for Portland in the 72nd minute. Meghan Klingenberg curled a corner kick into the box, finding Lussi at back post. Lussi jumped and directed a looping header on frame from inside the box, forcing a save by Casey.
Eckerstrom was called into action deep in second-half stoppage time. On a Sky Blue FC counter-attack, Janine Beckie got free running down the right side of the box and fired a shot at point-blank range near the right post, but Eckerstrom made the save, batting the powerful close-range strike down and collecting the ball.
In the final minute of stoppage time, Eckerstrom came up with a massive save to help preserve the win. With Sky Blue FC pushing for the game-tying goal, McCaskill played a pass straight across the box for Dorsey running towards goal and Eckerstrom made a sliding kick save to deny her at the edge of the goal box. McCaskill pounced on the rebound, sending a shot towards an open net, but defender Ellie Carpenter cleared the ball off the goal line.
- Hayley Raso tallied her first goal of the season in the match, becoming the ninth player to register a goal for Portland in 2018.
- Christine Sinclair recorded her sixth assist of the campaign, which ranks as the most in the NWSL this season.
- Sinclair’s six assists ranks tied as the second-most assists in a single season by a Thorns FC player.
- Ana Crnogorcevic has scored in three consecutive matches, registering three goals and an assist during that span.
- Crnogorcevic has scored five goals this season, tallying three of those goals on the road.
- Angela Salem made her first career start for Thorns FC in the match.
- Raso has tallied a goal and an assist in her last two games. She is the seventh Thorns FC player with at least one goal and one assist this season.
- Portland registered its third straight win on the road against Sky Blue FC, outscoring Sky Blue FC 7-2 during that span.
- Sinclair recorded her 13th career assist in the match, which moves her into a tie for second place all-time in career assists for Thorns FC.
- Thorns FC improved to 3-2-2 all-time on the road against Sky Blue FC and evened the all-time series at 6-6-3.
- Portland has now scored 19 goals in the first half of matches, which is the most of any team in the league.
- Thorns FC are 7-0-2 when scoring the first goal of the match in 2018.
Following a league-wide international break, Thorns FC open a two-game road swing, squaring off against the North Carolina Courage on Sunday, Aug. 5, at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The Aug. 5 match kicks off at 12:30 p.m. (Pacific) and features a live web stream available at www.nwslsoccer.com and on the NWSL app.
Portland Thorns FC (8-5-5, 29pts) vs. Sky Blue FC (0-13-3, 3pts)
July 21, 2018 – Yurcak Field (Piscataway, N.J.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland Thorns FC 2 0 2
Sky Blue FC 1 0 1
POR: Raso (Sinclair), 4
POR: Crnogorcevic, 7
NJ: Dorsey (McCaskill), 27
POR: Sinclair (caution), 80
POR: GK Eckerstrom, D Carpenter, D Menges, D Reynolds (Ball, 46), D Klingenberg, M Salem (Weber, 84), M Boureille, M Andressinha (Lussi, 69), M Sinclair ©, M Raso, F Crnogorcevic
Substitutes Not Used: GK Geist, D Hubly, F Onumonu, F Foord
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Lussi, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players tied, 1); FOULS: 7 (Boureille, Raso, 2), OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 4
NJ: GK Casey, D Skroski, D Freeman, D Richardson, D Frisbie, M Tiernan (Beckie, 68), M Thaisa (Rodriguez, 78), M Killion, M Dorsey, F McCaskill, F Groom (Meehan, 82)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Sheridan, D Gibbons, D Pierre-Louis, D Stott
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Dorsey, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Dorsey, 2); FOULS: 11 (Five players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 5; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 1
Referee: Reyna Fonseca
Assistant Referees: Ian McKay, Zeno Cho
4th Official: Dave Breckner
Weather: Rain, 69 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial