There were chances, but the Portland Thorns could not convert one of them on Saturday, Aug. 20, falling 1-0 to England club champion Chelsea in the third-place match of the Women's International Champions Cup watched by 11,447 fans at Providence Park.
Guro Reiten reacted to a loose ball and scored in the 64th-minute with a left-footed finish from close range for Chelsea.
The loss ends a run of 12 consecutive matches unbeaten in regulation for the Thorns. Portland lost to Monterrey in Wednesday's WICC semifinal, but that was decided on penalty kicks after the 90 minutes.
Portland returns to National Women's Soccer League play with a two-match week, including a cross-country trip to play North Carolina on Wednesday, Aug. 24.
Chelsea, 64th minute — A quick combination of passes between Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr created an opportunity for Pernille that was deflected by Natalia Kuikka. The ball spun just far enough away from Portland's Meaghan Nally for the hustling Guro Reiten to smash home.
Big picture: While Saturday was an opportunity to play against one of the world's more accomplished clubs, this essentially was an exhibition match. And, coming ahead of two important National Women's Soccer League matches in a four-day span this week, the priority for coach Rhian Wilkinson and her staff was to keep her players as fresh as possible for the challenging week ahead. With that in mind, only two players who started against CF Monterrey on Wednesday (Yazmeen Ryan and Nally) were in the starting lineup Saturday. With the exception of Hannah Betfort starting up top, the other 10 Thorns in the lineup have each seen regular starts this season.
There were chances:Â Chelsea controlled possession for significant periods and, especially in the first half, troubled Portland with upfield pressure to quickly win back possession from the Thorns. But it was Portland who had the best chance of the first half. In the 13th minute, Meghan Klingenberg played a ball into space for Morgan Weaver, who cut a pass back to the top of the box. An onrushing Christine Sinclair, perhaps distracted by Hannah Betfort also making a move toward the ball, sent a fight-footed shot well wide.
In the second half, Sinclair had a header from a corner kick cleared from the goalmouth, and Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger made a one-v-one stop on a Sophia Smith breakaway.
Rhian Wilkinson's take: "There's a lot to be proud of. We lost and congratulations to Chelsea. It's a very good team with some incredible talent. They're managed by one of the premier managers in the world. So what an amazing opportunity for us to play against some of the world's best and see how we stand up against that," the Thorns coach said.
"(Thorns players) didn't just sort of get caught up in the idea of who Chelsea is. Instead, they played the game. So, I was really, really happy with it. I think it's something we can really learn and grow from for the last bit of the NWSL season."
Lyon being Lyon and Horan being Horan: Lindsey Horan scored two goals, one a full volley, as Olympique Lyonnais beat CF Monterrey 4-0 in the Women's International Champions Cup title match Saturday at Providence Park. Horan, a Portland Thorns midfielder on loan with the French super club, scored three goals in two tournament matches this week.
Next Thorns match: Portland at North Carolina, 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14 (Paramount+).
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.