2018 Thorns Spring Invitational recap: Match day two
The Portland Thorns face the U-23 USWNT | Source: Sam Ortega - Portland Thorns

Day Two of the pre-season round-robin Thorns Spring Invitational presented by Tillamook Yogurt took place Wednesday at Merlo Field in Portland, Oregon on the campus of the University of Portland. The day’s matches featured the Houston Dash vs the Chicago Red Stars in the first game and the Portland Thorns vs the U-23 U.S. Women's National Team in the second game.

Game 1: Chicago Red Stars vs Houston Dash, 1-0

The Red Stars defeated the Dash 1-0 on a Sofia Huerta goal she scored in the first ten minutes. Sam Kerr provided the assist with a cross inside the box that found Huerta, her first with the club.

On the far post, Huerta received the ball, getting past her defender and sending it into the goal. It would be the game’s only goal, but plenty of chances for both teams kept the game close. The Red Stars, however, dominated the first half in shots 10-5. The second half saw much of the same back and forth without a single goal to equalize or take the commanding lead, and the Red Stars would take the win.

Chicago Red Stars hold on to the win despite back and forth opportunities | Source: Chicago Red Stars Twitter
Chicago Red Stars hold on to the win despite back and forth opportunities | Source: Chicago Red Stars Twitter

The game featured U.S. internationals Alyssa Naeher and Sofia Huerta along with 2017 NWSL MVP Sam Kerr who returned from her time with Australia. Kerr was subbed in the 79th minute after the Australian international went down with an ankle injury. Kerr received treatment and hobbled to shake hands post-game.

The Red Stars finish the tournament on Saturday, March 17 against the U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team.

Game 2: Portland Thorns vs U.S. Under-23 Women's National Team, 2-2

In a surprising result, this game ended in a tie. Though it is only pre-season, a tie against a young national team and a 1-0 loss to the Red Stars on Sunday is not a promising start for Mark Parsons' Thorns who will look to defend their 2017 NWSL Championship. They will not win their own invitational tournament as a result.

Portland forwards Ifeoma Onumonu and Mallory Weber each scored goals for the Thorns in the first half, giving Portland a comfortable lead. The lead would not be final, however. U.S. U-23s forward Catarina Macario recorded a second-half brace to finish the match in a 2-2 draw. Her second goal came in the 90th minute.

The Thorns also saw the return of their international stars. Canadian international Christine Sinclair, USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan, and USWNT defender Emily Sonnett rejoined the team to make their first appearances of the 2018 preseason for Thorns FC after completing their international duties.

Up next for the Thorns is a matchup against the Houston Dash on Saturday.

What We Learned

We can't really weigh too much in preseason games. Preseason gives coaches an opportunity to look at players and assess where their team is going into the season. For Chicago, though, two wins against the two NWSL teams is a boost of confidence after a disappointing exit in the 2017 NWSL playoffs. They now have a chance to win the tournament on Saturday.