Saturday, Sept. 25: Red Stars 2, Thorns 1
Goals: Christine Sinclair scored from the right side of the penalty area, placing a pass from Crystal Dunn off the far post and into the goal (1-0 Thorns, 24th minute).
Kealia Watt put the ball into the net after a cross from Rachel Hill eluded the grasp of diving Portland goalkeeper Bella Bixby (1-1, 25th minute).
Hill headed home a cross from Mallory Pugh, who got to the endline on the left wing and connected with Hill at the far post (2-1 Red Stars, 64th minute).
Match moments: Portland scored against the run of play, but saw the lead disappear a minute later when Bixby dove to cut off a low ball but had the ball slip away. … Chicago's pressure kept Portland defending deep for stretches, including the one that led to the winning goal. Bixby made six saves as Chicago outshot Portland 15-14 (8-3 on goal). … The Thorns played without midfielder Lindsey Horan (right knee), but coach Mark Parsons said Horan might be back for next weekend's home match with rival OL Reign.
What it means: Portland is 12-5-2 (38 points) but missed a chance to clinch a playoff spot. The Thorns still hold a six-point lead over second-place OL Reign with five matches remaining in the regular season.
Reaction: Consensus was that Chicago was the better team because it brought better energy. Playing its first match after an international break, Portland just couldn't generate consistent tempo.
Said Christine Sinclair: "I just think we came out flat. Chicago brought energy that we didn't match. And, as a result, it was a struggle for us for 90 minutes. Got a little bit better in the second half but yeah, I mean, in this league, you got to, you have to match energy with your opposition we didn't do that tonight."
Said coach Mark Parsons: "well done Chicago fought, they were very, very good. I'm more frustrated. We didn't play well. It was a really tough game. Collectively we weren't good. Individually we weren't good. But we still could have got a point out of this."
Up next: OL Reign at Portland, 7 p.m. Oct. 2 (FOX 12 Plus TV).
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