Portland Thorns fight back twice for draw at Chicago
The Portland Thorns went to Chicago on Saturday and came away with a 2-2 draw with the Red Stars in National Women's Soccer League play. Portland converted twice from corner kicks after falling behind by a goal. Hina Sugita and Sophia Smith scored the Portland goals.
Red Stars, fifth minute — Mallory Pugh dribbles with speed past LKelli Hubi in the left side of the penalty area and slotted a low shot inside the near post. Chicago 1-0.
Thorns, seventh minute — Hina Sugita was open at the far pass on a Portland corner kick delivery from Sam Coffey and scores from a sharp angle inside the right post from the left side of the six-yard box. 1-1.
Red Stars, 20th minute — After a quick set of one-touch passes, Ava Cook sends a ball into the penalty area for Rachel Hill to get behind Meaghan Nally and beat an oncoming Bella Bixby. 2-1 Chicago.
Thorns, 47th minute — Sophia Smith scores by being first to a second ball off a corner kick, deftly touching the ball in the air to set up her own volley. 2-2.
Big picture — Portland is 1-1-3 for six points five matches into the regular season. In their first road match in league play, the Thorns twice answered Chicago goals. Sugita and Smith both delivered quality finishes to convert from corner kicks. Red Stars rookie Ave Cook made a couple of smart passes to set up teammates Pugh and Hill, catching Portland defenders on the wrong side of Chicago attackers for the two early goals. … The Thorns continue to learn who they are. In this match, Natalia Kuikka played on the left wing-back side instead of the right. Becky Sauerbrunn made her first start this season and played 64 minutes as the leftside center back alongside Hubly and Meaghan Nally. Bella Bixby's one save was a strong one, denying a Pugh close-range chance from a tight angle in the second half.
• Coach Rhian Wilkinson: "We kept battling, never quit on one another and to come back twice, you get a point on the road. As a coach, I've got to be pleased with that."
• Wilkinson on Kuikka shifting to the left: "We've tried a few different ways to get some of our players on the field just to see how they handle it. … (Kuikka) did very well. Obviously not on a side she's used to playing on, but a strong game from Janine Beckie on the right. And, we've now got more than two excellent wingbacks we can choose from in any game."
• Midfielder Sam Coffey: "I think there are a lot of positives to take away from tonight. I thought we played a lot of really good soccer. Obviously, it's really difficult to be away and to come back every time the opposing team scores. So, we have to give ourselves credit for that and be proud of that. But, at the same time, we don't play to tie, and a tie isn't what we came here for. It's not good enough."
Thorns next match — Angel City FC at Portland, 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 3 (FOX 12 Plus).
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