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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Portland Soccer, June 7, 2013

Most games have a lot of good and a lot of bad, and the Thorns' 4-3 win over FC Kansas City last night was no exception. The attack looked better at times but there were still some of the same issues the Thorns need to work on.

Portland opened the scoring quickly, in the 13th minute. Becky Edwards sent a ball forward for Alex Morgan. Becky Sauerbrunn was racing Morgan to the ball when she slipped and fell, leaving Morgan alone against keeper Nicole Barnhart. She finished very nicely, putting her shot over Barnhart and into the top of the net for an early lead. Edwards had a strong game all night, winning the ball in midfield and looking for forwards to pass to.

They added to their lead after 20 minutes. Marian Dougherty took the ball down to the goal line and sent a cross into the penalty area. Courtney Wetzel was running at goal and was first to the ball for an easy tap in from 12 yards out. It seemed as if the Thorns might be well on their way to recovering from their loss to Chicago last weekend. This goal wasn't very flashy or spectacular, but that's what I liked the most about it. It came from a simple but effective move that didn't involve trying to get to a longball. The goal was a sign that the Thorns are capable of creating goals out of passing and movement, an encouraging sign.

Portland's defense, however, has been prone to mistakes, and in the 38th minute they made another. Rachel Buehler was forced to tackle Kansas City's Renae Cuellar from behind and give up a penalty kick. Honestly, Buehler was lucky to escape without a yellow card on the play as she fouled Cuellar from behind and didn't get anywhere near the ball. Lauren Cheney converted the penalty kick to make it 2-1 after the first half.

In the 48th minute, Danielle Foxhoven, who had just come on at halftime, tapped a cross from Morgan into the goal for a 3-1 lead. It was another good goal that came from getting forward and getting a cross in. Eight minutes later, though, KC made it 3-2 on another defensive breakdown. This time the left side of the back line was at fault. Dougherty was far too lax about allowing Leigh Ann Robinson to get to the goal line and cross the ball, and Kat Williamson was beaten to the near post by Cheney, who had her second goal of the game.

Portland pushed the lead back to two in the 66th. Barnhart blocked a cross from Christine Sinclair, but Morgan gained control of the rebound and her shot deflected off Allie Long, who was credited with the goal. The Thorns allowed Kansas City to close to within a goal once again, however, when they allowed Erika Tymrak a shot just outside the top of the 18 that made it through everyone untouched. Portland was able to hold on from there, however, and take all three points in an entertaining, back-and-forth contest.

Although the Thorns did well to score four times, and was a little better in attack, the defense still needs work. There were still a number of times KC was able to get into dangerous positions, and with a little better finishing could easily have drawn or even won the game. The defense has been together most of the season so they should know how to play as a unit. On the whole, though, it was a good night and a good win for the Thorns, who needed an improved performance and got it.

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