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Two first-half goals enough as Portland manages pressure from a motivated KC club to win its third in a row.

Goalkeeper Bella Bixby made two saves, one acrobatic, to help the Portland Thorns beat Kansas City.The goals: Own goal. A cross into the box from Meghan Klingenberg deflected off KC's Kristen Edmonds and into the goal (1-0 Thorns, 10th minute).

A shot by Sophia Smith from the left side of the penalty area deflected off of Marissa Everett, who was standing in front of goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland (2-0 Thorns, 42nd minute).

What it means: With its third consecutive win and fifth match in a row without losing, Portland is 8-3-1 (25 points) and remains atop the National Women's Soccer League standings. Kansas City is 0-8-4 (four points) at the bottom of the standings.

Takeaways: Goalkeeper Bella Bixby has been scored against only once in five matches in place of Adrianna Franch, and the Thorns are 4-0-1 in those games. She needed to make two saves for her fifth career shutout … Kansas City was dangerous early and late in the match and would have opened the scoring in the sixth minute if not for an acrobatic save from Bixby to deny a re-direction effort by Kristen Hamilton.

Portland continues to be strong defending its own 18-yard box. Kansas City delivered 23 open-play crosses and took seven corner kicks. And KC was credited with creating 15 chances (to 13 for Portland). But, other than the early Hamilton chance and a couple of near misses in second-half stoppage time, the true chances were absent.

Emily Menges, who was involved in a number of challenges, said the Thorns have focused on defending the box for a few years but are now doing a good job of getting into their assigned areas early so that they can react to any opponents who make an attacking run at a cross. She added that the work defending the area at the top of the box by midfielders is key, as well.

Sophia Smith didn't get credit for a goal, but her run pressured Edmonds into defending the cross that ended up in the first goal and her shot led directly to the second goal. Smith, and Simone Charley both continued to trouble defenses with their work without the ball, too.

A crowd of 16,246 witnessed another Thorns' win. It was an emotional one for coach Mark Parsons and his family because it is the last regular-season match his wife Hannah and daughter Edie will attend. They return to England this week as the family prepares for him to take over as head coach for the Netherlands at the conclusion of this Thorns' season. Said Parsons: "My wife is crying her eyes out because obviously it's been an incredible six years for them. They watched me do what I love and coach the team that I love. They've also loved every part. And seeing our daughter be embraced by thousands of people (is) one of the best gifts that we have been given."

Up next: The Thorns visit the Washington Spirit at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7 (Paramount+).


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