Orlando Pride welcomed league-leading Portland Thorns FC on Sunday evening for a hard-fought match that saw the Thorns take a 2-1 advantage at Camping World Stadium, ending the Pride’s home unbeaten streak. Although the Pride dominated the competition for the majority of the night, the Thorns snatched the win with a 90th minute goal by U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Lindsey Horan.
“I thought what we did tonight, against the best team in the league, we went out and fought and virtually outplayed them the whole game and created more chances. We probably played our best soccer of the season, and then we gave away two of the dumbest goals that you could possibly give away to a team that is basically down and out,” said Orlando Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni. “I’m really delighted with how we played, really delighted with the chances that we created, with the energy and with how the players stuck to the game plan. I am absolutely seethingly angry about how we managed to lose the game.”
After a scoreless first half that featured a number of chances on both sides, the Pride (5-6-0, 15 points) jumped out to a lead 67 minutes in after Jasmyne Spencer blasted in her second goal in as many games, beating Thorns goalkeeper Michelle Betos from five yards outside the penalty area.
The Thorns, who lead the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) with 23 points, responded with a goal from Dagný Brynjarsdóttir and the match-winner from Horan just before stoppage time.
Spencer’s goal got started after defender Steph Catley collected the ball near midfield and aimed for Alex Morgan, who was making a run behind the Portland defense. Betos came well off her line to challenge Morgan on the high, arching ball and was able to win that battle, clearing it with a punch. However, Spencer was on the other end of the clear, taking advantage of the backtracking goalkeeper and firing into the top right corner.
In the 80th minute, the Thorns got on the board when Emily Sonnett sent a long ball ahead to Christine Sinclair, who deftly chipped a header to the on-rushing Brynjarsdóttir. The Icelandic forward beat Laura Alleway to the touch, sending the ball past Ashlyn Harris from the top of the 18.
Then, Sinclair was again involved in the game-winner, finding second-half substitute Hayley Raso across the pitch on a run to the far post. The Australian forward sent a quick pass back to the middle, finding Horan open for a left-footed touch past Harris.
The Pride held possession and the majority of the opportunities through the match, containing the Thorns offensive threats while forcing Betos into numerous difficult stops.
Twenty-four minutes in, Betos had to come up with back-to-back saves after Morgan drove the ball down the endline and found Dani Weatherholt in the middle. The rookie took a quick shot but was denied on a kick save. The ball, however, fell to the middle to Spencer but Betos was able to make a quick recovery, punching Spencer’s shot away to the left.
Morgan pressed for a goal of her own late in the match, breaking down the right side then cutting the ball back into the middle to evade a sliding challenge from Emily Menges. The U.S. international created a shot for herself, but Betos had the angle covered and knocked it wide with her right mitt.