On Wednesday night, Portland Thorns FC might need to adjust their idea of hospitality after beating the visiting Houston Dash 5-0. Portland furthered their lead atop the National Women's Soccer League table with the win, while Houston remains in seventh place. This match was all Portland from the first to last minute, and Houston was rarely in the attack all night. Portland scored more goals than Houston had shots on goal for the night.
From the opening minutes, it was clear that Houston was in for a long night. United States women's national team midfielder Lindsey Horan took two shots in the fifth minute that were blocked, but those shots were a harbinger of things to come. In the seventh minute, Portland midfielder Gabby Seiler forced a turnover. She quickly passed the ball centrally to Tobin Heath, who dribbled toward the defense at the top of the box. She turned to look for an outlet, and she sent the ball back to Horan who sent a low shot to the far corner from 20 yards out. The 22,000+ fans at Providence Park erupted, but there were more fireworks to come.
Five minutes later, Heath took the ball down the left side of the pitch and sent a low cross right across the top of the six-yard box. The ball slipped past the foot of a Portland player, rolled by the hands of Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell, and ended up right at the foot of Hayley Raso. No skill, just great positioning, was required for Raso to finish the shot and give Portland a 2-0 lead in the 12th minute.
In the 18th minute, Portland forward Midge Purce gifted her team a goal when she drew a penalty. Dash defender Amber Brooks took Purce down with a hard foul right on the edge of the penalty area. The foul might have started outside the box, but the referee pointed to the spot. Portland forward Christine Sinclair stepped up to the spot and buried the ball in the left side of the net. It was the first successful penalty taken against Houston this season.
Raso notched her second goal of the match in the 24th minute. Purce was broken in behind the Houston defense with a perfect slip pass, but Campbell came out far away from her line to deflect her shot. Unfortunately for Houston, the ball rolled right out to Raso who finished past some defenders into the open net. It was the fourth and final goal of the first half for Portland.
Houston had a few shots on goal in the second half, including a shot by Rachel Daly that forced Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch to make a diving save to her right. Apart from the few moments of offense for the Dash, Portland stayed on top of the game. Horan nearly scored an amazing bicycle goal in the early second half, but Campbell made a nice save to keep the scoreline at 4-0.
That wouldn't last, when late in the second half it would be the Thorns putting another ball into the back of the net. In the 71st minute, Portland substitute Tyler Lussi took a shot from the top of the box. The ball was going wide, but it took a deflection off of Cambell, who had rushed to try to block the shot. Thanks to the deflection, Lussi's shot went into the goal, and it was officially tallied as an own goal against Campbell. Despite Portland continuing to press, the game would finally end with a 5-0 scoreline.
Portland will have a week to savor this victory. They have a bye this week. Houston is going to be hosting Sky Blue FC on Sunday. Both Sky Blue and Houston both lost games tonight.