PORTLAND, Ore. — With another dominant win at home Sunday, the Portland Thorns have added to their cushioning at the top of the National Women’s Soccer League table.
Goals from Midge Purce and Christine Sinclair lifted the Thorns 3-0 past the third-place Chicago Red Stars, and gave the Thorns a five-point lead on the NWSL table. The North Carolina Courage sit second on the NWSL table at 31 points.
“We were lethal going forward — our purpose, quality and numbers,” Thorns coach Mark Parsons said. “Just devastating when we’re on the attack, on the charge. Loved what we did in the first half — it’s one thing to be creating those chances, but we were finishing them.”
Sinclair opened scoring in the 12th minute on a slick Tobin Heath assist. Megan Klingenberg crossed centrally to Heath, who knocked a one-touch pass into the path of Sinclair. After a couple steps of dribbling, Sinclair fired past Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
Purce doubled the Thorns’ lead in the 24th minute. Hayley Raso fired a shot that was blocked but Purce headed the deflection into the goal.
In the 57th minute, the Thorns extended their lead to three. Sinclair fired a rocket from the top of the box that Naeher tipped off the crossbar. Purce, crashing into the box, knocked the rebound into the goal.
The match marked the continuation of a protest from fans against a new policy banning political signs from Providence Park.
Major League Soccer had introduced the new rule this year and specifically prohibited the Iron Front logo, and the Portland Timbers organization said they would enforce the ban at both Timbers and Thorns games. But Thorns fans on Sunday defiantly displayed an Iron Front flag, with other messages related to the controversy.
“Human rights are not political,” one large banner said. Another read, “Silence = complicity.”
— Caitlin Murray (@caitlinmurr) August 25, 2019
In front of 17,542 fans at Providence Park, the Thorns dominated a Red Stars side that has now lost their last three games. It was the Red Stars’ fourth game in 16 days.
“We couldn’t finish our chances,” said midfielder Morgan Brian. “We got enough chances to equalize the game, and that’s been the same thing the last four games. We’ve created a lot of chances, we have a lot of possession, we have the run of play, but we’re not capitalizing in the final third, and that’s where games are won or lost.”
Red Stars coach Rory Dames said the Red Stars were fatigued from their compacted schedule.
“I’m not making excuses for why we lost, but the players are tired,” he said. “The most important thing we got out of today is no one got hurt. If we come here and get points, it’s rare.”
Up next, the Thorns head to Utah to face the Royals on Sept. 6. The Thorns will play three of their last five games of the regular season at home, and they seem to have hit their stride in the home stretch of the regular season.
“We’re starting to flow,” Purce said. “Relationships are starting to be built and we’re starting to anticipate each other’s movements, so it’s good to be a part of.”
After the international break, the Chicago Red Stars will host the Houston Dash on Sept. 8.