MATCH REPORT: Top Ranked Washington Spirit Draw in Scoreless Match Versus Portland Thorns FC – May 7, 2016

PHOTOS COMING SOON!

By R. King

The Washington Spirit took on the Portland Thorns FC for their Mother’s Day weekend match at the Maryland Soccerplex on Saturday.  The last time the two teams met was in August of 2015, which ended in an exciting draw with three goals per side.  Both teams were looking to advance their undefeated streaks, and in the end were only technically successful.  Portland will still be in pursuit of the top of the table as the season progresses, and Washington look to keep the field chasing.

The match began with an energetic Washington Spirit pressing the back line of the Thorns.  They found success with midfielder Estefani Banini, forward Crystal Dunn, and midfielder Diana Matheson setting up quick one touch passes down the left flank.  It was clear in the first 10 minutes that this match was going to be a battle of the midfields.  Many of the 10 shots Washington took in the first half began with possession in the midfield with coordinated, rushing attacks forward.  The Thorns’ defense held strong, and was able to fight off the chances the Spirit was able to create.

As the first half progressed, the match became more physical and tense, and both sides were frustrated by the inability to settle in and play their game.  The best chance for Portland came in the 30th minute, when a ball served across the box by defender Meghan Klingenberg was mishandled by Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé.  Labbé fell to the ground, but recovered just in time, sliding to block a shot from Thorns midfielder Allie Long near the top of the box.  Washington answered with a close call of its own in the 35th minute when defender Ali Krieger served a ball into the box from the flank.  Forward Crystal Dunn connected with a header, which found the back of the net, but was called offside. The last 10 minutes of the first half did not yield any successful attempts for a point on the score board.

During halftime Honorary Washington Spirit Captain, Brianna Scurry was available to comment on current issues facing Women’s Soccer.  On the issue of head injuries and concussions:

“One of the things I am most focused on is getting people aware of the frequency of concussions in female soccer players in general. People need to be aware that females tend to have more frequent concussions, more severity, and longer time to heal.  There are differences between females and males and we need more research to show what those differences are and put those forward to have a little bit of a different understanding.”

On the issue of the Equal Play- specifically the Equal Play lawsuit brought forth by five of the USWNT players:

“I feel like it’s unfortunately that the women felt that they had to do this with the filing.  This is the same stuff we had to deal with when I was playing. Its sad, but it’s necessary.  Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a lawsuit or a filing to get the other party to the table to at least talk about it.  Sometimes you have to air the dirty laundry on front street and that’s what they had to do with this.  I completely support them and I hope they get what they need because the old argument of revenue is no longer relevant.”

At the start of the second half, the Portland Thorns came out more aggressively, which put the Washington Spirit on their heels.  They were able to slow the assaults they endured during the first half, and began to create more chances for themselves.  Washington seemed to lose some of the efficiency they had earlier in the match.  In the 59th minute, a free kick awarded to the Spirit in their attacking third was blocked when Thorns midfielder Tobin Heath encroached on the play.  For her incongruous play she was booked and received one of four yellow cards in the match.

The 67th minute included a scary moment for Portland as Washington Spirit goalkeeper Labbé came off her line to cut the angle from Thorns midfielder Allie Long.  The pair collided, and Long was slow to get up as play resumed at the other end of the pitch.  The Spirit failed to convert another good look during the 68th minute, during a corner kick taken by midfielder Diana Matheson.  After bouncing around the box, Matheson found the ball at her feet with plenty of time to set up her shot, but it was kicked straight to Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.  Franch made another impressive save in the 73rd minute when defender Cheyna Williams connected with Dunn in the box, whose right footed half volley forced her to make a one handed diving save.

Around the 80th minute, Portland began making more runs forward and pinned Washington in their own defensive third in a desperate attempt to get on the scoreboard.  In the 88th minute, Thorns’ Captain Heath collided with Spirit Defender Megan Oyster, pushing her to the ground.  In frustration she picked up the ball and spiked it on the ground, in her dissent she earned her second yellow ejecting her from the game.  She will also sit the Portland Thorns’ next match Saturday May 14th versus Seattle Reign FC.

As the Thorns played without their captain, the Spirit began making their last push to earn three points.  In the 93rd minute, Dunn dribbled though the defense and took a shot which hit the left post denying the goal.  There would be one more Spirit try, but the game would ultimately end scoreless in front of a sizeable home crowd of 4,333.

Game Stats

Goals:
Washington Spirit – 0
Portland Thorns FC – 0

Cautions and Ejections:
Washington Spirit – Megan Oyster (17’)
Portland Thorns FC – Emily Sonnett (16’), Tobin Heath (59’), Lindsey Horan (95+’), Tobin Heath (88’ ejected)

Shots:
Washington Spirit – 16
Portland Thorns FC – 7

Shots on Goal:
Washington Spirit – 6
Portland Thorns FC – 3

Corner Kicks:
Washington Spirit – 7
Portland Thorns FC – 10

Fouls:
Washington Spirit – 10
Portland Thorns FC – 15

The Washington Spirit will take on the Houston Dash Saturday May 14th at 7pm ET at Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland Soccerplex.

The Portland Thorns FC will finish up their four game stretch on the road Saturday May 14th at 10pm ET at Memorial Stadium.



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