It wasn’t the most elegant game, but then the Spirit aren’t an elegant team. This one went to the team that worked harder, and that was Washington. It was was even more of an accomplishment given that Tori Huster, their captain and one player above all who exemplifies their work ethic and toughness, was out with an injury.
The visiting Portland Thorns struck first in the 18th minute when Allie Long sent a perfectly placed through ball to Genoveva “Ayo” Añonma. Defender Megan Oyster slowed up, expecting an offside call, but Añonma continued with the play and tucked the ball into the lower left-hand corner. It was the first NWSL goal for the recently signed player from Equatorial Guinea.
Eight minutes later, Christine Nairn sent a ball over the top in the direction of Crystal Dunn in a clearly offside position, but it bounced off defender Kat Williamson and landed right at Amanda DaCosta’s feet at the top of the box. Da Costa let it bounce, then chipped it over goalkeeper Michelle Betos. It was another of the sort of breaks that the Spirit never seemed to get until this season. (And claims that Da Costa was offside seem invalid – see the screen cap at top.)
Just two minutes after that, Betos had trouble controlling a back pass, Crystal Dunn came swooping in, took it away from her, and had an easy putaway. It was roughly the nine-zillionth time the Spirit had gotten a goal off a Dunn steal, though she doesn’t usually do it singlehandedly. Dunn is now leading the NWSL in scoring and has either scored or helped score all four of the game-winning goals for the Spirit this year. Thorns head coach Paul Riley: “Crystal Dunn was exceptional. How she’s not on that plane to Canada is absolutely beyond me.”
But that would conclude the scoring. The second half would be hard-fought and scrappy, with four yellow cards issued to Portland players, two of which looked to be for professional fouls to take down Laura del Rio before she did something dangerous with the ball.