Portland Thorns FC traveled to Cary, to play the hosts after the great opening match in Providence Park two weeks ago where Portland had a fantastic game against the Chicago Red Stars. But the FIFA window made them took the foot out of the pedal and they didn't look so good against the North Carolina Courage.
The current champions wanted to keep winning after finally getting three points in Week 8 after not being able to do so for 4 straight games. But there's something different when they face the Thorns and we could see that on Saturday.
Portland score against the run of play
The first half brought an even match, between two teams determined to win and a Portland team full of youngters and without two key players: captain Emily Menges, who was out injured, and Icelandic international Dagný Brynjarsdóttir, who was with her national team ready to play against Finland. But Midge Purce, who already has four goals in three matches, put the Thorns up after chipping the Courage goalkeeper after a long ball from Celeste Boureille.
Purce remains as one of the beacons in the attack for this Portland team and one player coach Mark Parsons always can rely on.
A change in attitude gives the Courage an equalizer
Nonetheless, the Courage didn't want to lose and much less in front of their people, and much much less against the Thorns, and so they gave everything they had in the second half. They dominated the entire 45 minutes plus stoppage time and Portland bunkered themselves in their own side to prevent them to score. But a good ball from Merritt Mathias gave Julia Spetsmark the opportunity to chip Britt Eckerstrom in a ninja style and put things even that Saturday night.
Spetsmark proved to be the most dangerous player in the attack for the Courage and created lots of opportunities the team wasted. But The Thorns did everything in their power to get a point in the road and they were compensated for it, ending the match 1-1.
It's important to say that the Thorns never got a point in Cary and so this result is very important for them with so many key players absent and against a team that runs and runs and never gets tired.
North Carolina Courage (4-2-3-1): Sam Leshnak; Ryan Williams (Julia Spetsmark, 46’), Cari Roccaro, Kaleigh Kurtz, Jaelene Hinkle; Merritt Mathias, Denise O’Sullivan; Kristen Hamilton, McCall Zerboni ©, Lynn Williams; Leah Pruitt (McKenzie Meehan, 90’).
Portland Thorns FC (5-2-3): Britt Eckerstrom; Meghan Klingenberg ©, Gabby Seiler, Katherine Reynolds, Elizabeth Ball, Kelli Hubly (Marissa Everett, 84’); Ana Crnogorcevic, Celeste Boureille; Madison Pogarch (Emily Ogle, 73’), Midge Purce, Simone Charley (Tyler Lussi, 62’).