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Portland's midfield dominates the NWSL expansion club in win for Thorns at Providence Park.

COURTESY PHOTO: CRAIG MITCHELLDYER/PORTLAND THORNS FC - Angela Salem is hugged by Lindsey Horan as the rest of her Thorns teammates rush to celebrate with Salem after the midfielder scored in the eighth minute of Saturday's 3-0 NWSL win for Portland over Racing Louisville at Providence Park.The goals: Angela Salem scored with a 22-yard shot through traffic, striking a ball from the top of the penalty area for her second career NWSL goal (1-0 Thorns, eighth minute) on Saturday, June 5, at Providence Park.

Rocky Rodriguez with a first-time strike from 10 yards after Lindsey Horan dribbled into the penalty area and delivered a pass back towards the penalty spot where Rodriguez hit it (2-0 Thorns, 48th minute).

Horan sent a ball into the box looking for Simone Charley. Charley jumped toward the ball but it spun past her and into the goal (3-0 Thorns, 77th minute).

What it means: Portland (3-2-0, 9 points) has won two in a row and, pending Sunday matches, sits second in the NWSL standings behind Orlando. Expansion side Racing Louisville (1-2-1, 3 points) is in ninth place in the 10-team league.

The skinny: The Thorns commanded the game against the young expansion club from Louisville and would have scored more goals if not for some tremendous play by Racing Louisville goalkeeper Michelle Betos, who had several huge stops among her nine saves. … Portland's midfield dominated the match and produced the goals, with Salem, Rodriguez and Horan each contributing a goal and assist. Salem scored for the first time as a Thorn, and the first time since July 18, 2016, for Boston against Sky Blue FC.

Portland outshot Louisville 28-4 (12-0 on goal), including 17-2 in the first half (seven on target). The Thorns would have been up more if not for a series of big stops from Betos. The one-time Thorns keeper had six saves by halftime.

Lineup notes: With Christine Sinclair away with Canada, Rodriguez and Salem were paired in midfield with Horan to great impact. Sophia Smith (lower leg) missed the match. Coach Mark Parsons said she was banged up after last week's road trip, but that the injury should be short term. … Though the goals came from three midfielders, Simone Charley had a role in two of Portland's goals and Morgan Weaver also was dangerous up top. Emily Menges made her first start of the season and went the distance at center back alongside Becky Sauerbrunn. Parsons said it was important to get Menges 90 minutes because she and Kelli Hubly, who did not play, will be counted upon when Sauerbrunn is at the Olympics. Parsons said that Meghan Klingenberg, who took a knock to her foot late in the match, will probably be fine.

Reaction

Salem on scoring: "Yesterday, a similar situation happened at training and I didn't shoot it and my teammates yelled at me. It was nice that it opened up again, the same opportunity, so I shot it. Wasn't expecting it to be a goal. Just really excited. My teammates looked really excited for me. I think I locked eyes with Lindsey (Horan) first and she seemed really happy. It was just a really awesome moment. Rare occasion. Gonna live this one up for a little bit. It was special."

Rodriguez (on the opportunity to play her more natural attacking role, rather than splitting time with Salem deeper in midfield): "I just told myself to enjoy it, responsible, obviously. I can be more creative on the ball, off the ball, join the attack. So, I had a blast."

Parsons on the performance: "A fantastic performance. Really complete, high-energy, disciplined, fun, entertaining performance. Tonight, I think our principles and our personality were all on show. I'm really proud of the group, and that's a nice way to go into a FIFA break."

Roster moves: The Thorns on Saturday announced they have signed two of their 2021 draft picks. Midfielder Yazmeen Ryan, the No. 6 pick out of TCU, signed a three-year contract and is expected to see time when key players leave for the Olympics. Defender Hannah Betfort, selected with the 37th pick, signed a one-year contract and, according to Parsons, is a player the Thorns view as a longer-term developing player.

Up next: After an international break, the Thorns will play host to Kansas City at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 20, a game that will be televised nationally by CBS.


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