In only their second game of the season, the Thorns traveled east to face the NWSL’s newest club, the North Carolina Courage. While they might have been new to the league, they played like veterans, taking a very close, and exciting, match from the Thorns.
The Thorns played without USWNT star Tobin Heath for the second straight game, but were not void of chances, or applying pressure. Allie Long and Amandine Henry both had fantastic chances, but neither could find the mark. Courage Goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo remained solid thoughout the game with timely saves and good positioning.
Not to be outdone, Thorns Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch came up huge in the 75th minute. After Thorns Defender, Emily Sonnett, was called for a hand-ball in the box, Franch sprawled to her left, stopped the ensuing Penalty Kick, and kept the score locked at zero.
???? HUGE. SAVE. AD. ????
— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) April 23, 2017
A clean sheet was not in her future however, as a mere six minutes later the Courage got one through. Debinha slotted home a Jessica McDonald chip into the box in the 81st minute, and that goal ultimately proved to be the backbreaker.
It can be frustrating to create that many chances, and not be able to walk away with at least one point, especially when your defense looked solid all night. However, the season is still young, and the Thorns are dealing with injuries.
Despite the disappointing scoreline, this was a big match for a few Thorns players. Defender Meghan Cox made her debut for the club, coming on as a sub in the 46th minute. Franch became the fourth Thorns Goalkeeper to save a Penalty Kick, and Long registered her 7,000th minute, one of only eight players to accomplish this feat in the NWSL.
The Thorns return home for two matches, the first coming this Saturday, April 29, against the Chicago Red Stars. This game will be broadcast nationally on Lifetime. The next game coming Saturday, May 6, against Northwest rivals Seattle Reign, also at the friendly confines of Providence Park.