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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Portland Soccer, June 18, 2013

The past weekend was a very busy, very good one. On Saturday the Timbers faced FC Dallas, the league leaders. The two teams had faced each other in Dallas in May and the result was a 1-1 draw. Most players and fans felt the Timbers could have had a win if not for a controversial penalty, but it was clear these were two very good teams. The last MLS home game was back on May 12, the weather was perfect, and the crowd was eagerly anticipating a good match.

In the end, the match was as good as I was hoping. Portland had plenty of chances, but Dallas has a very good defense and goalkeeper Raul Fernandez had an excellent game. For the first half and the opening minutes of the second it seemed as if this would be a scoreless draw.

Then came Darlington Nagbe. He dribbled into the left side of the penalty area, spun, and curved the ball inside the post from a tight angle. The only person in the stadium who saw a chance there was Nagbe, and he took it. Credit also should go to Kalif Alhassan, who had the assist on the goal, which was a just reward for a strong game from the midfieder. Alhassan's biggest problem has been consistency in his four years with the Timbers. Saturday, however, they needed a big game from him and got it, as he was a key in building the attack.

Following the goal Portland and Dallas continued the high intensity that was present throughout the game, but the Timbers came out with a huge 1-0 win that was their 13th consecutive game without a loss.

The next day the Thorns faced the Seattle Reign at home, without their Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair, and Rachel Beuhler, who were away with their national teams. The last time Portland was without them they struggled to a 2-0 loss to Chicago. After the first half ended scoreless it looked as if Portland's struggles would continue.

The match changed quickly once the second half started. Forward Danielle Foxhoven came on to start the half and three minutes later took a pass from Mana Shim, found space on the left side of the penalty area, and scored a brilliant curving goal from about the same spot Nagbe had scored from for the Timbers the day before. Foxhoven's speed and energy changed the Thorns team and they seemed more aggressive the second half. Portland's new approach paid off in a second goal in the 66th minute when Angie Kerr played a perfect pass to Shim, who split the Seattle central defenders and scored on a 1 v 1 with goalkeeper Michelle Betos to make the score 2-0, which is how it finished. The Thorns ended the weekend tied at the top of the NWSL table with Sky Blue FC, who they face Saturday in New Jersey.

There was more good Thorns news today as the team signed Tiffany Weimer. She had been playing in Denmark and has had significant professional experience following a good college career from 2000-2005. She should bring veteran leadership to the Thorns and will be another option at forward.

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