The US U-23 Women's national team upset Portland Thorns, 2-1
USWNT U-23 squad celebrating after Michelle Xiao scored off a rebound from a penalty kick | Souce: Craig Mitchelldyer

Day two of the 2017 Portland Invitational brought the Portland Thorns together with the USWNT U-23 squad. The Thorns were coming off a 1-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars. The U-23s lost their first game against the Houston Dash, 2-1.

A Lively First Half

The U-23s started the game off strong, pushing high on the backline of the Thorns. Two minutes in, the hard push created the first corner of the game awarded to the U-23s. Adrianna Franch, the Thorns goalkeeper, made quick work of the ball in and shut down any chance of a goal. The U-23s kept the pressure on Franch and the backline but a bad turnover in minute eight gave the Thorns a chance to strike and strike they did. Ashley Herndon sent a long ball across the front of the goal that found the perfectly positioned Mallory Weber. Weber placed the ball with a magical header past Casey Murphy to put the Thorns up 1-0. 

The U-23s were not deterred by the early goal and kept the high paced game, going right back to the high pressure on the Thorns backline. Franch kept her backline tight and no matter what the U-23s threw at them, no one was able to capitalize to draw the U-23s even. Franch came up with two back-to-back saves off a corner before it was cleared out of the box. 

Meghan Klingenberg defending against a USWNT U-23 squad | Source: Craig Mitchelldyer
Meghan Klingenberg defending against a USWNT U-23 squad | Source: Craig Mitchelldyer

The Thorns seemed to take over around minute 30 as the U-23s looked to lose some speed. The very composed Christine Sinclair seemed to lead the Thorns front line and started to attack Murphy and her back line. Although some shots made Murphy work, nothing else was able to make it past. Halftime came with the Thorns leading the U-23s 1-0.

A Speedy Second Half

The second half seemed to start much like the first. Both teams came out like bullets. The first 15 minutes was back and forth with neither team converting chances made. Both teams made substitutions in minute 60.

Sophia Smith, a lively forward for the U-23s, pushed hard up into the box and was fighting to maintain control of the ball, was pushed down by Celeste Boureille inside the box winning a penalty kick. The initial kick taken by Smith was blocked by Franch but the Thorns were unable to clear the rebound and a speedy Michelle Xiao was able to blast it by Franch to bring the U-23s even with the Thorns at one. 

After the U-23s' goal, the Thorns started to push again. Midfielder Amandine Henry blasted a shot from distance that hit the upright and back into play. The end of the game brought the biggest mistake with Franch making a half-hearted pass that gave Smith an opening to pounce. Smith went one on one with Franch and put the U-23s on top for the first time the entire game. With only a few minutes left, the Thorns were unable to answer and the game ended with the Thorns falling to the U-23s, 2-1.