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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Brown

Portland Thorns FC defeats the Kansas City Current 3-0 in dominant home opener

Morgan Weaver jumps into the arms of teammate Chrstine Sinclair after scoring the first goal of the match against Kansas City at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon, April 30, 2022. Photo Credit/ThornsFC

Fans of the Portland Thorns (PTFC) flocked to Providence Park on Saturday, April 30, 2022 to watch the team defeat the Kansas City Current (KC Current) 3-0 in the season’s home opener. The Current reached the semifinals of the 2022 Challenge Cup and have been undefeated on the road in the tournament. But they were quickly overwhelmed by the Thorns’ high pressure up top and struggled to break through their solid backline for the entirety of the 90-minute match.

Portland demonstrated this offensive pressure within the first 10 minutes of the game. A lovely slip-through ball from Rocky Rodriguez found its way to Christine Sinclair whose shot was denied by Adrianna Franch. Morgan Weaver pounced on the rebound at the back post for an easy finish that lifted PTFC ahead in just the eighth minute.

Midfielders Rodriguez and Sam Coffey continued finding offensive success by threading balls to Weaver and Janine Beckie, who troubled Kansas City defenders with their dynamic runs on the wings. Weaver nearly had an assist in the 23rd minute when she found herself open on the left wing, crossing a perfect, low-driven ball toward the penalty spot, but the pass failed to meet any runners in the box.

The Current’s best chance of the half occurred two minutes later from a giveaway by Bella Bixby in goal. Forward Elyse Bennett took the opportunity to get a shot off, but her attempt went just wide of the left post.

Pressure by the Thorns continued to break down Kansas City. Sinclair scored in the 34th minute by getting on the end of a fantastic ball by Natalia Kuikka, bringing the score to 2-0. Kuikka and Meghan Klingenberg’s service to the forwards throughout the match was a high point for the Thorns.

Right before the half, the Current had a chance to score off of a free kick by Kristin Edmonds. Elizabeth Ball was able to get her head on it, but the shot went slightly too wide to close the gap in the score before the break.

Sophia Smith did not start for the Thorns, but was subbed on at the half for Beckie and made an immediate impact. Only six minutes into her shift, Smith blasted a half volley from the edge of the box past Franch. The goal was a great example of Smith’s ability to turn a small chance into a real opportunity, as she was able to get a brilliant shot off from a bouncing ball at a poor angle.

The bright spot in the half for Portland continued to be Smith. In the 78th minute, she picked up the ball at midfield and took on a swarm of Current players before launching a powerful shot. However, the attempt went directly to the experienced Franch, who saved it with ease.

Despite Kansas City’s best efforts to lay on the pressure late into the match, they couldn’t manage to create enough chances. The game ended with only one shot on goal by the visiting side compared to 12 shots on goal by the Thorns. Portland’s dominance in every area of the field provided Bixby with the shutout and handed the team three points in their first regular-season game.

Kansas City will take on the North Carolina Courage in the semifinals of the 2022 Challenge Cup, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at home. It will be the first playoff appearance for a young club looking to establish itself as a household name in a competitive league.


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