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Lussi, Sonnett score as Thorns top Dash 2-1
The Thorns move into a tie for first with the win
Portland Thorns FC forward Tyler Lussi scored the first goal of her NWSL career in Week 15. (Photo credit: Sam Ortega/isiphotos.com)
Portland Thorns FC forward Tyler Lussi scored the first goal of her NWSL career in Week 15. (Photo credit: Sam Ortega/isiphotos.com)

Tyler Lussi scored her first NWSL goal and added an assist as Portland Thorns FC topped the Houston Dash 2-1 at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon in front of 18,243 of the Thorns faithful.

 

With the win, Portland moved into a tie with the Red Stars atop the NWSL table with 28 points before Chicago takes on the Orlando Pride later Saturday night. The Courage will also play later in the evening and could reclaim sole possession of first place with a win.

 

The loss snapped a six-game unbeaten streak for the Dash.

 

The first half was fairly even between the two sides, but Portland got on the board first. A Carli Lloyd foul on Dagný Brynjarsdóttir set up a Thorns free kick on the right wing. Meghan Klingenberg served a cross into the box that was Houston was unable to clear. Lussi then headed it past Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell and it was tapped over the line by Emily Sonnett to make it 1-0.

Houston had a strong opportunity in the 18th minute off a nice offensive buildup from Lloyd and Janine Beckie, who then passed to Rachel Daly in the box. With her back to goal, Daly played the ball back to Nichelle Prince, but her shot went straight to Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

 

The Dash tied it up in the 33rd minute after a penalty kick converted by Lloyd. Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan fouled Caity Heap in the box, and Lloyd buried her kick into the lower left corner of the goal to make it 1-1.

 

It didn’t stay tied for long as Portland would only need a few minutes to get the lead back thanks to their captain Christine Sinclair.

 

In the 38th minute, Sinclair won the ball near midfield with a nice move to get around one defender. Sinclair then turned upfield, took another nice cutback to turn around a second defender, before passing it out to the left wing for Klingenberg, who was making a run down the flank. Klingenberg dribbled into the box, but her shot was blocked by Janine Van Wyk. The rebound fell between two Dash defenders and Lussi, who persisted long enough to finally get the ball free. Lussi’s right-footed shot to the far post beat Campbell to make it 2-1.

“Klingenberg got a cross and we do that every day in practice,” Lussi told Dalen Cuff on Lifetime after the match. “It was just jumbling around in the box and I just passed it to the net. It was a great feeling and a great team goal.”

 

 

The Thorns forced two big second half saves by Campbell in an effort to extended their lead. The first came in the 69th minute as the rookie goalkeeper was able to push wide a Horan header that would’ve made it 3-1.

She stopped Horan again in the 89th minute after Sinclair found Horan open in the box, but Campbell was able to parry the shot away.

 

Both teams went into the halftime with the total shots tied 8-8, but Portland would go on to dominate in the second half, outshooting Houston 12-3, including 5-0 in shots on goal.

Houston could not find a way to break down Portland’s ball control, especially late in the match when Portland killed off seven minutes of stoppage time to hold on to the 2-1 win.

 

It’s the first loss for the Dash since June 17 in Lloyd’s 2017 NWSL debut. A win would have moved them into a tie for fifth place with Sky Blue FC.

 

We put in a good shift, six games straight unbeaten,” Lloyd told Cuff after the match. “It just happens. There’s days where you’re just off a bit. Collectively, I think we were just not at our best, every single one of us, but just got to get back to the drawing board. Now, this will make us dig deeper.”

 

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