In the 15th minute of Wednesday night’s contest between FC Kansas City and Portland Thorns FC, Portland’s Allie Long found herself with a one-on-one opportunity in the box with FCKC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, following a miskick in the box.
Long sent a right-footed shot to the near post, but Barnhart was able to get her fingertips on it, deflecting it off the post. Before Barnhart and the FCKC defense could scramble back into position, Christine Sinclair slotted the rebound into the back of the net, giving Portland a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we started the game all right and were organized in the first 15 minutes, but they scored the first goal after we kicked it off our own player,” FCKC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “The game completely changes after that.”
From that point on, it was all Portland. The Thorns (5-3-3, 18 points) defeated FCKC (3-4-4, 13 points) 3-0 at Providence Park in Portland, Ore.
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The loss ended FCKC’s unbeaten streak against Portland over their last six meetings.
“It was a difficult game for us, but I was proud of the players because we kept fighting,” Andonovski said. “We had a very good stretch of play at points, but unfortunately it ended up 3-0.”
Seventeen minutes after Sinclair’s goal, Barnhart found herself on the wrong side of misfortune once more.
Portland’s Hayley Raso received a pass on the wing and squared her shoulders to cross the ball into the box. As she played the cross, Barnhart crept forward, but Raso mishit her cross. The ball floated over Barnhart and into the back of the net, giving Portland a 2-0 lead after the first 45 minutes.
Although trailing 2-0 at halftime, Andonovski said the theme in the locker room was to come out and play physical in the second half, regardless of the scoreboard. Playing physical, combined with some frustration, led FCKC’s Alexa Newfield, Maegan Kelly and Brittany Ratcliffe to pick up yellow cards in the second half.
“The players didn’t want to give up, they came out hard in the second half,” Andonovski said. “We talked about it at halftime; we didn’t want to look at the scoreboard.”
Sydney Leroux, who has three goals on the season, thought she had scored her fourth of the year in the 64th minute to cut Portland’s lead in half. But Leroux was a step or two offside, and the goal was called back.
Despite having 11 shots, including four on goal, FCKC struggled to make the final connection needed in the attacking third.
“We didn’t create clear chances, but we were definitely in the area,” Andonovski said. “We were lacking the savviness in the final third to make the final pass. Technically, we weren’t up to the level we needed to be to make those passes against a good Portland team tonight.”
Sinclair picked up her brace, her first since 2013, in the 75th minute by beating Barnhart on a finessed shot from 25 yards out. FCKC couldn’t muster any scoring chances in the last 15 minutes.
FCKC returns home on Sunday to play host to the Houston Dash before hitting the road again and taking on Sky Blue FC on July 8.
“We will keep our heads up knowing we left everything on the field,” Andonovski said. “We will analyze tonight’s game and hopefully fix what went wrong and prepare for Houston on Sunday.”