You could feel the energy in the air of Providence Park, where nearly 20 thousand fans gather together to witness the big home opener Portland was expecting anxiously from the beginning og the season. “Welcome back to the Madness” read the tifo displayed by the Riveters, the hard core fans of the team.
Chicago Red Stars had a difficult task ahead of them but not because of a lack of talent or self will but because history said that the team from the Windy City couldn't pick a win against the Thorns in six years, more than that the home crowd fires up the Thorns like anything else can. Add to that the fact that the city was waiting for June 2nd to be louder than last season, to sing and cheer like only they know, and because Mark Parsons has found a pool of young players who want to show that they belong to the team, that they have the same winner mentality the Thorns have always had since their foundation in 2013.
Midge Purce was starting this time, in the place of Tyler Lussi, along with Simone Charley up top. Gabby Seiler was back again in the defence line, while Dagný Brynjarsdóttir was dropped back to defensive center midfielder and Ana Maria Crnogorcevic was moved from the wing to the number 10 position.
Portland dominated the game in the first half. With Midge Purce creating trouble for the Chicago defence early in the match, with her speed and dribbling skills was able to have a shot that hit the crossbar at the third minute. Purce draw a foul near the box minutes later but it wasn't until the 27th minute that Portland got its first goal of the afternoon.
Everything started with an effective tackle by Elizabeth Ball who passed the ball to Crnogorcevic. She went wide and found Charley who slipped a through ball to Purce. She left Emily Boyd behind with a simple touch and shot, putting the ball in the back of the net.
Four minutes later another combination between Purce and Charley gave way to Portland's second goal. Charley cut the ball back to get rid of Sarah Gorden and sent the ball from the left to Purce, who volleyed it to put the 2-0.
Celeste Bureille had to enter into the match in the 40th minute after Angela Salem went down without contact. She was grabbing her right knee and had to be carried off the field in a stretcher.
The second half had a Chicago team looking to break through in the score sheet. Katie Johnson was the Chicago player closer to accomplish this and saw a great opportunity in the 56th minute but sadly, her shot hit the crossbar. She kept trying to score for the rest of the game (until she was subbed off in the minute 80th but it just wasn't Johnson's day. Chicago's attack looked better in the second half but couldn't finish their chances.
In the 78th minute Marissa Everett replaced Simone Charley, making this her second game in the season and one she will never forget given the fact that seven minutes later she scored her first goal of her profesional career in front of nearly twenty thousand people. Meghan Klingenberg sent the ball into the box from a free kick and connected with Everett who appeared unmarked and finished in front of Boyd with a nutmeg. Minutes later she could've scored a brace after a great cross sent by Celeste Bureille from the right flank but she sent the ball over the bar.
The dinamic duo
This game was the perfect home opener for the Thorns given the circumstances and the players surely will be happy with the outcome as well as coach Parsons. It was nice to see the combination and how much fun Midge Purce and Simone Charley had. They hinted this chemistry on the field during week 7 but this week it developed in its full form. Was also nice to watch Ana Maria Crnogorcevic in a new position that suited her well and contributed significantly to the development of the game.
Chicago Red Stars knew they faced a big test ahead of them and even when they were two goals down, they kept trying to move the ball and construct good looks, specially in the second half.
The FIFA window starts this week and surely will be a good time to rest up a little, to regroup and press the restart button for some of them while others will push the resume one.