Score US U-23 WNT 2-1 Portland Thorns in 2017 Portland Invitational (2-1)
Second-year centerback Emily Sonnett eludes Stephanie McCaffrey (Surce: Jenny Chuang - VAVEL USA)

Score US U-23 WNT 2-1 Portland Thorns in 2017 Portland Invitational (2-1)

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Willa Grefe
Portland ThornsFranch; Boureille, Sonnett, Menges (Cox min. 75), Klingenberg (Johnson min. 59), Long, Herndon (Flynn min. 59), Henry, Hubly, Sinclair (Nadim min. 71), Weber (Shim min. 59)
U23 Women's National TeamMurphy; Cook, McGrady, Riehl, Jean, Howell (Davidson min. 61), Pinto, Eubanks (Sanchez min. 66), Smith, McCaskill (DiBiasi, min. 74), King (Xiao min. 61)
SCORE1-0, min. 7, Weber. 1-1, min. 65, Xiao. 1-2, min. 90, Smith.
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I've been Willa Grefe, thanks for following and be sure to look for our wrap-up of this game and our continued coverage of the 2017 Portland Invitational here at VAVEL USA.

Both teams will be back underway on Saturday. The U23 WNT face the Chicago Red Stars at 5 pm PT, and Portland finish the tournament with a 7:30 pm PT match against the Houston Dash.

A good win for the U23s who were able to capitalize on sloppy defense and pick up a win against a great team.

Portland will be frustrated with the result, but they were able to rotate in a lot of players and answer some questions about possessing out of the back.

Full-Time: The U23 WNT complete their comeback victory and knock off the Portland Thorns, two goals to one.

That tally caps a strong individual performance for Smith, who created the U23's penalty kick and gets the game-winner.

90' Goal U23! Sophia Smith punishes Franch for a poor pass and finishes the 1 v 1. U23 WNT lead 2-1.

89' Long cranks from distance. Murphy bobbles her initial save, but recovers.

87' Hubli makes a dangerous run across the box, but Henry can't get the pass there through multiple U23 defenders.

85' Cook scoops a ball over the Thorns' backline, but Franch is alert to the threat and wins the ball away from Smith.

83' Off the post by Henry! She hit it from outside the 18 and had Murphy beat, who may have lost the ball in traffic. It ricochets off the inside of the post but no one there to clean it up for Portland.

80' Instead it's Shim to take. She flights it to the back post, but it's too far for any of Portland's runners.

79' This time it's Henry who is taken down. She'll stand over the free kick from 20 yards out.

78' Foul called against Henry, who followed through on her tackle a little too strongly for the referee's liking.

76' Henry hits Nadim over the top, but Nadim is offside.

75' Portland Substitution: Meghan Cox replaces Emily Menges.

U23 Substitution: Jordan DiBiasi replaces Savannah McCaskill.

Portland substitution: Nadia Nadim, who got the game-winner against Chicago, enters for Sinclair. As of now the game is tied 1-1.

71' Great look for Flynn! Long lays off the ball and Flynn hammers it wide of the near post.

69' The free kick and secondary ball are both defended well by the U23s.

68' Foul by Alana Cook on Flynn gives the Thorns a free kick

65' Goal U23s! Franch makes the initial save on Smith's penalty but Xiao follows up and slots it under Franch for the tying goal.

64' Penalty for the U23s! Smith did well to put herself in Boureille's way. 

61' U23 Substitution: Tierna Davidson enters the game for Jaelin Howell. Michelle Xiao replaces Tziarra King.

59' Portland Substitution: Kendall Johnson, Mana Shim, and Caroline Flynn replace Meghan Klingenberg, Ashley Herndon, and Mallory Weber.

56' Sinclair jukes past Cook and slides a ball into the box, but it's cleared.

52' Smith goes down in the box, but no call from the referee. She had a great first touch to beat her defender, but Menges recovers and gives Franch time to gather the ball.

49' U23 WNT starting the second half much as the first: high pressure, steals, and creating opportunities.

48' Great recovery by Menges! Smith stole the ball off her foot, but Menges catches up with her and blocks her shot inside the box.

46' Now the Thorns come the other way. Passes just a touch off for the Thorns, and they can only manage a long range shot from Henry, who sends it high.

46' Early shot for the U23s as Smith unloads from distance, but it's nothing that will trouble Franch.

No substitutions for Portland to start the second half.

The U23s started strong and put the Thorns in a couple sticky circumstances, but Portland's possession game served them well and they were able to play out of a number of scrapes. The game was really beginning to open up for their forwards before the halftime whistle blew.

Halftime: That will do the first half. The Thorns lead the U23 WNT 1-0 on a Mallory Weber goal in the seventh minute.

44: Clever interplay between Sinclair and Henry, who cuts through the U23 backline and delivers the ball to Klingenberg on the back post. The outside back can't keep her shot under the bar, and the score remains 1-0 Thorns.

42: Brilliant ball by Long straight down the center of the park for Sinclair. Murphy does well to read the play and beats Sinclair to the ball by half a step.

39: Sinclair sees Murphy cheating off her line and tries the shot, but is sails well over the bar.

38: The Thorns have no compunction about playing balls across their own 18. So far neither the U23s nor the Chicago Red Stars have been able to punish it.

35: Sinclair gets another look at goal, but her strike is straight at Murphy.

34: Great chance for SinclairHenry feeds the Thorns' captain, and her shot to the far-post is tipped just wide.

31: Another good chance for Weber, whose shot is saved as she's called offside. Herndon had found the Thorns forward making a run between the two U23 centerbacks.

29: Great slip ball by Sinclair, who threads a ball through for Weber, who is inches wide of her second goal. 

28: Klingenberg cuts inside and takes a shot, but it's straight to U23 goalkeeper Casey Murphy.

26: U23s have a corner cleared, and play the ball around trying to find a way through the Portland defense. They turn over the ball for a throw in.

23: Boureille's shot is saved by Murphy. Klingenberg split the U23 midfield with a long diagonal ball, and Boureille found space for a left-footed shot at the top of the 18. There's not much power behind it, and it's an easy save for Murphy.

21: Smith shoots over the bar! Eubanks stole the ball from Klingenberg and found Smith in acres of space in the box, but Smith puts it into the nosebleeds.

20: The U23s are really taking advantage of some poor organization by the Thorns. Halfway through the first 45 minutes, they've had the better chances and have come out with more energy.

19: Franch clears the U23 corner twice, and it's finally headed out of danger. U23s are knocking on the door.

17: Sonnett blocks McCaskill's shot! The center-back made sure to have her arms out of the way when she stepped in front of the shot.

15: Sonnett able to hold of King and play a pass out of the back. The U23s still pressuring the ball, particularly on the Thorns backline.

15: Now it's the U23s on the ball trying to build out of the back.

13: Portland with the lovely buildup. Boureille able to serve a driven ball through the box, but it's just a touch too high for Weber.

9: Thorns racking up scares at the back. This time it's Menges who's almost stripped of the ball by a pressuring U23 attacker.

8: Thorns continue their attack, with Sinclair sending Hubli on a run down the right side. Hubli rounds the corner but her cross is straight at Murphy.

7Goal Thorns! Herndon serves a ball to the back post. Weber is uncovered, and beats Murphy with a header down to the near post.

5: Pinto serves in an outswinger and Franch grabs it at the back post.

5: Pressure paying off for the U23s. They steal the ball in midfield and immediately begin the counter, earning a corner kick.

3: Another nervy moment in the back as Long plays a pressure ball to Franch, who has to deal with it. 

3: Long fouls McCaskill from behind in the center of the park. Free kick to the U23s.

2': Scary moment in the back for the Thorns. Franch, on the backline, loses the ball to a U23 attacker and has the ball cleared for a corner kick.

1': U23s with a quick look forward, but Long breaks up the play and recycles possession for the Thorns.

Kick-off: We're underway in the Rose City

National anthem and walk-outs finished in Providence Park. It's game time.

U23 head coach BJ Snow makes three changes from the side that fell to Houston 1-2. Forwards Sophia Smith and Tziarra King and defender Alana Cook make their first starts of the tournament.

U23 starting XI: Murphy, Cook, McGrady, Riehl, Jean, Howell, Pinto, Eubanks, Smith, McCaskill, King

We're about 15 minutes away from kickoff! The match is free to stream on youtube through the Portland Thorns.

In today's first match, Christen Press scored a brace to lead the Chicago Red Stars over the Houston Dash2-1.

Christine Sinclair will captain the Thorns. They carry over the same backline, with Ashley Herndon and Kelli Hubly the only changest to the starting XI.

Portland starting XI: Franch, Boureille, Sonnett, Menges, Klingenberg, Long, Herndon, Henry, Hubly, Sinclair, Weber

You can check out our preview of tonight's match, as well as our coverage of the U23 WNT and the Portland Thorns for more detail. 

Roster Note: Lindsey Horan is unavailable for the Thorns tonight. She has a hip flexor strain that will keep her out of the rest of the tournament as well as the USWNT's upcoming friendlies against Russia. She is replaced on the US roster by one of the Thorns' opponents tonight, U23 WNT midfielder Jaelin Howell.

Both teams gave up good chances in the final minutes of their last games. The late start time might be brutal, but this is one to watch until the final whistle.

U23 WNT’s Keys to the Game: They have a mighty task ahead of them, but Portland aren’t unbeatable. Sunday’s Chicago game reminded fans that Portland is vulnerable to high pressure teams as both Amandine Henry and Allie Long like to drop deep and the Thorns lack speed up top. Left-back Meghan Klingenberg can also be caught too far forward, and although Celeste Boureille wasn’t cowed in her first match at right-back, she’s still breaking in the position. AD Franch did well, but she still hasn’t seen regular games in several years, and reps are vital for goalkeepers. The U23s have plenty of speed in McCaskill, Ashley Sanchez, and Sophia Smith. If they press hard and counter fast, they could steal a goal. They’ll need another strong performance from Casey Murphy, the Rutgers netminder who kept the U23s in their opening game with several key saves in the first half.

Casey Murphy will be key for the u23s (Source: Jenny Chuang - Vavel)
Casey Murphy will be key for the u23s (Source: Jenny Chuang - VAVEL USA)

The Thorns were without Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, and Dagny Brynjarsdottir on Sunday. Brynjarsdottir has been dealing with a back injury for some time, while Heath watched the match from a box in the stands, seemingly with a mystery injury. It is unclear whether any or all three will play on Wednesday.

Portland Keys to the Game: Parsons won’t have much scouting material for this match-up, but with a side this loaded with talent, he’d probably prefer to keep the focus on them, not their opponent. The Thorns will want to create more chances than they did against Chicago, who largely smothered their attack. That all starts with center-backs Emily Sonnett and Emily Menges getting the backline to distribute cleaner and quicker out of the back. Allie Long was dangerous the few times she broke forward, clearly relishing her return to midfield. She was also superb in the air, which should come in handy against a team that surrendered two goals on service into the box.

Parsons, on Adrianna Franch: “We got a good clean sheet. I thought AD Franch was superb. It was good to see her in there making some saves and then also dictating the play with her feet.

In his post-game remarks, Thorns head coach Mark Parsons said “We wanted to see how we moved the ball and can we move it well but also be dangerous. We spent less time on being dangerous and it showed because we were overplaying at times but that’s the phase that we’re in.

AD Franch was strong in goal for the Thorns (Source: Jenny Chuang - Vavel)
AD Franch was strong in goal for the Thorns (Source: Jenny Chuang - VAVEL USA)

In their first match against the Chicago Red Stars, Portland withstood early pressure to defeat fellow 2016 NWSL semifinalist 1-0. Newly first-string goalkeeper Adrianna Franch was called into action twice in the opening minutes on long-range shots and proved herself up to the task. Last year’s leading goalscorer Nadia Nadim got the game-winner on a penalty kick in the 26th minute after Allie Long was bowled over in the box.

The U23 WNT lost 1-2 to the Houston Dash in the tournament opener. The U23s were minutes away from upsetting the Dash after Savannah McCaskill scored in the 74th minute, despite the Dash keeping them on the back foot for most of the game. Bruna Benites cancelled the lead when she redirected a deep service from Amber Brooks into the net in the 89th minute. Brooks completed the Dash’s comeback with a 94th minute header, snatching all three points from the U23 WNT.

All matches are being held at Providence Park Stadium, home to the Thorns and the Portland Timbers in MLS.

Hello again and welcome to VAVEL USA’s live coverage of the second day of the 2017 Portland Invitational. My name is Willa Grefe and I’ll be covering today’s second match, which sees the reigning NWSL shield-holders the Portland Thorns take on the U23 Women’s National Team. Kick-off is set for 10:30 pm E.T. and we’ll have live updates and analysis leading up to and also taking you through all the action live here on Vavel.

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