nwsl thorns

NWSL, Thorns ready for action

Women's soccer returns Saturday, and on CBS, too
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

It’s almost “go” time for the return of pro team sports in America with the National Women’s Soccer League set to kick off Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Fittingly, the Portland Thorns will be involved in the opening match, putting the league’s most successful franchise up against the North Carolina Courage - the league’s second-most successful franchise. And, it will be televised on CBS - the actual network and not a streaming service. It’s the only match of the month-long tournament scheduled for CBS until the final, July 26. All other matches will be streamed on CBS All-Access ($5.99/month) as well as Twitch - for fans outside the U.S. and Canada.

The NWSL is the first league to begin play, albeit in a tournament form, since all leagues stopped the evening of March 11 due to fears from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NBA and MLS are scheduled to return to some form of play in July, but the NWSL is the first to return to actual physical contact just as European soccer leagues have done in the past month. 

The return comes at a unique time as the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing in many states, including Utah. All the matches will be played at the 5,000-seat Zions Bank Stadium, located in suburban Salt Lake City, with the semifinals and final at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The tournament hit an unexpected snag when Orlando removed itself after more than a dozen players and staff members tested positive. The league, released a modified schedule for the remaining eight teams Tuesday.

The tournament has a number of unique elements such as there’s no extra time in any match and no draws. Each match will have a winner, decided on penalty kicks if it ends in a tie after 90 minutes

Significant testing, social distancing and no on-site fans are part of the plan for the tournament.


Thorns show off home magic

Portland handles Chicago 3-0 before Providence Park faithful
Staff report

Portland's NWSL return to Providence Park could hardly have gone better in front of a raucous, sun-drenched crowd of 19,461 fans Sunday afternoon with the Thorns beating the Chicago Red Stars 3-0 to move into second place.

Playing without nearly half of its regular rotation due to the upcoming World Cup, Portland got a pair of goals from Midge Purse and one from Simone Charley to improve to 4-1-2, 14 points. The season began with six road games.

Thorns fans can watch for four team members on the U.S. National Team - midfielders Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan, defender Emily Sonnet, and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, as well as Christine Sinclair playing for the Canadian side. In addition, Ellie Carpenter is with the Australian side and Andressinha is playing for Brazil.

The World Cup begins Friday with the league taking a week off for the opening round. Portland next plays at North Carolina, June 15, and again in Portland June 21 against Utah.




Thorns get dramatic draw

Goalkeeper Betos scores in final seconds to thrill home fans
June 19, 2015

PORTLAND - Playing with only 10 players for the final 20 minutes, the Portland Thorns not only outscored visiting Kansas City, they did it in historic style.

Goalkeeper Michelle Betos scored a dramatic game-tying goal in the final seconds of second-half stoppage time to rally the Thorns to a 1-1 draw against Kansas City in front of 15,214 fans Friday evening at Providence Park.

Playing for the last-gasp equalizer, Betos pushed up into the penalty box for a corner kick and headed home the cross from midfielder Allie Long, sparking a celebration from the team's fifth largest crowd in its three year history.

"Allie played the ball in and I just tried to get it on goal and it happened to go in," Betos said afterward. "I don’t think I was marked very well. I probably wouldn’t have marked me either so I can’t blame them for that."

Just moments before the final corner-kick sequence, Betos made a critical save as second-half substitute Caroline Kastor got in behind the Thorns backline and was one-on-one with Betos, who made a diving kick save on the shot attempt.

The goal was the first by a goalkeeper in National Women’s Soccer League history and the latest goal scored in a regular-season match by a Thorns player since the team’s inaugural season in 2013.

The Thorns improved to 2-3-4, 10 points on the season, but still have not won a game in more than a month.

After a scoreless first half, FC Kansas City (3-4-2, 11 points) took a 1-0 lead in the 51st minute as midfielder Jen Buczkowski served a well-placed free kick towards the penalty spot and forward Sarah Hagen beat Betos to the spot, heading the ball into the back of the net.

Portland outshot FC Kansas City 8-5 in the second half, and 13-8 in the match, seeing several closes chances just miss in the final 45 minutes. Defender Kat Williamson’s header off a corner kick in the 49th minute was just over the crossbar. Second half-substitute Alyssa Kleiner had two close chances, including a half volley in the 69th minute that was cleared away near the goal line by an FC Kansas City player.

Betos finished the match with four saves as Thorns FC limited their opponents to single-digit shot attempts for the sixth time in nine matches this season, improving to 2-1-2 at Providence Park this season and 6-1-3 in their last 10 games at home.

Portland returns to action on July 3, playing host to Sky Blue FC at Providence Park.

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