Utah Royals FC and Portland Thorns share the points in a 1-1 draw
Utah Royals FC and Portland Thorns share the points | Photo: Adam Fondren, Deseret News

Utah Royals FC and Portland Thorns share the points in a 1-1 draw

Utah Royals FC welcomed the reigning NWSL Champions to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time in franchise history. Goals from Rodriguez and Heath gave the two teams each a point.

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Emily Sanzone
Utah Royals FCSmith; Miramontez, Sauerbrunn, Corsie, Moros; Matheson (Gorry, 62), Jonsdottir, Scott, Thorsnes, O’Hara (Ratcliffe, 80); Rodriguez (Stengel, 56)
Portland ThornsEckerstrom; Purce, Reynolds, Sonnett, Hubly, Klingenberg (Onumonu, 65); Boureille (Andressinha, 64), Sinclair, Horan; Weber, Crnogorcevic (Heath, 57)
SCORE0-1, min 53, Rodriguez. 1-1, min 67, Heath.
REFEREEReferee: Ekaterina Koroleva Yellow Cards: Purce (min. 36), Jonsdottir (min. 49), Scott (min. 85).

For the first time in NWSL history, the Utah Royals FC played the Portland Thorns. Two second half goals from Amy Rodriguez and Tobin Heath lead both teams walking away with a point. Utah is still looking for their first win, where as Portland extend their unbeaten streak to four. 

Offenses strong but defenses even stronger 

Utah came out in the first half and immediately put pressure on the Thorns backline. Amy Rodriguez got many looks on goal throughout the half but wasn't able to convert any. The Royals pressured hard and looked really dangerous for the first 15 minutes until Portland settled into the game and made the match more even. Midge Purce got the first look for the Thorns in the 18th. Purce sent a ball in to the box, intended for Ana-Marie Crnogorcevic. Royals goalkeeper Abby Smith was forced to come off her line and punch the ball out of danger. Just minutes later Crnogorcevic was involved in another threat, that then led to a shot from Christine Sinclair that was then blocked by Utah captain, Becky Sauerbrunn

Abby Smith makes a save for the Royals | Photo: Adam Fondren, Deseret News
Abby Smith makes a save for the Royals | Photo: Adam Fondren, Deseret News

As Portland continued to dominate the rest of the first half, Sauerbrunn came up huge for Utah on more than one occasion. She was a vital piece in making sure they went into the break scoreless. The best opportunities the Thorns had came from set pieces and crosses from Purce. One came in the 35 minute when Amy Rodriguez was forced to clear the ball off the line from a header from Lindsay Horan. The Thorns almost took the lead before the half from yet another dangerous cross from Purce that almost led to an own goal from Rachel Corsie

The "New Kids" shined bright but this time on different teams 

Portland carried the same momentum over into the second half. In the 49th minute they got anther chance on goal from a cross from Meghan Klingenberg and a header from Lindsay Horan that was then saved by Abby Smith. Just minutes later, Amy Rodriguez scored her first goal of the season to give Utah the lead. It started with a poor header from Emily Sonnett that then fell to the feet of Kelli Hubly. The ball was then stolen from Hubly by Rodriguez who went one on one with Britt Eckerstorm. Faking out the goalkeeper and the defender, Rodriguez converted Utah's first and only shot on goal. After a stellar night, Rodriguez was then substituted out in the 56th minute. 

Amy Rodriguez had a stellar night | Photo: Adam Fondren, Deseret News
Amy Rodriguez had a stellar night | Photo: Adam Fondren, Deseret News

In the 57th minute, Tobin Heath made her second appearance of the season coming on for Crnogorcevic. As soon as she came on, she made a difference right away. Andressinha also made her club debut just minutes later and proved how useful she'll be to the Thorns midfield. Klingenberg went off the field in the 64th holding her stomach after denying a shot on goal from the Royals. Ifeoma Onumonu came on for Klingenberg, which then shifted the Thorn's formation. With Onumonu now in the mix offensively, Portland was able to get even more chances which soon led to the equalizer. Andressinha and Sinclair pressured Desiree Scott, Sinclair then came away with the ball. Sinclair then passed it to Heath and Heath chipped the ball over Smith to give the Thorns the equalizer. 

Both teams had good late chances on goal but neither team was able to capitalize, leaving both teams with a point. 

Utah will continue to look for their first win in franchise history against the Washington Spirit on May 5th at 9:00pm EST. Where as Portland will hope to continue their unbeaten streak against the Seattle Reign in the Lifetime Game of the Week

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