Thorns draw with Royals
Christine Sinclair scored a second-half goal Saturday as the Portland Thorns remained unbeaten in the National Women's Soccer League Fall Series with a 1-1 draw with Utah Royals FC at Sandy, Utah.
Sinclair's goal in the 59th minute answered an early goal from Utah's Amy Rodriguez.
Portland is 2-0-1 for seven points through three of four matches in the Fall Series. The Thorns are on top of the Fall Series standings. Washington also has seven points but has played all four of its games. North Carolina has four points from two games and can pull even on points with a win over Houston on Sunday.
It was the second game in four days for the Thorns, who traveled to the Salt Lake City area after beating rival OL Reign at home on Wednesday.
Portland coach Mark Parson's said that, after the first 10 minutes, he was proud of his team's effort with only two days between games. He said it was a match that likely would have been a loss a season ago, but Portland had the poise and persistence to get a point on the road.
"We stayed calm, measured, composed tonight. We just didn't have the energy or the quality to make it count. But for me it was a big step forward," Parsons said.
Sinclair's goal came from a rebound opportunity after Lindsey Horan won the ball high on the left wing and sent a cross into the penalty area that goalkeeper Abby Smith got a piece of. The ball bounced to Simone Charley. Her shot was blocked but fell to Sinclair.
Portland was sluggish early and fell behind in the ninth minute. Goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom saved an attempt from Lo'Eau Labonta but the rebound fell right to Rodriguez. Rodriguez started the sequence by winning the ball from Horan in midfield.
Portland had a couple of high-quality chances in the first half, including a left-footed effort that Sinclair did not catch cleanly. Smith scrambled to her left and appeared to keep the ball from completely crossing the goal line.
The Thorns initial reaction was that the ball crossed the goal line, but there is not video review in the NWSL and different replay angles would have been inconclussive, anyway.
Rookies Morgan Weaver and Sophia Smith played together up front in the first half and combined for a good chance when Smith delivered a low ball across the front of goal that Weaver sent just wide with her right foot.
Eckerstrom was credited with four saves, including two difficult ones to deny shots from Rodriguez in the first half and from Vero Boquette early in the second half.
The Thorns wrap up the Fall Series with a 5 p.m. game on Saturday, Oct. 10 against OL Reign at Tacoma's Cheney Stadium.
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