Wambach, WNY team call on Thorns

Portland tries to shake two-game losing skid

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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PORTLAND — Portland Thorns FC is trying to rediscover its offensive mojo.

Scoreless in their last three National Women's Soccer League matches, the Thorns face a Western New York team on Sunday with one of the better offenses in the league. Which comes as no surprise given that the Flash feature Abby Wambach, who recently passed Mia Hamm as the all-time goals leader in international women's soccer.

"You can't say enough about Abby and what she brings to women's soccer and U.S. Soccer and women's sports in general," Thorns coach Cindy Parlow Cone said. "She's an amazing person, an amazing player and she's a force to be reckoned with. We're definitely going to have to play our best in order to keep her from scoring goals."

Wambach is second in the NWSL with nine goals in 12 games. Sunday's 2 p.m. match is the only visit to Jeld-Wen Field this season for the Flash.

At the start of the season, Portland's duo of Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan set the NWSL scoring pace. But the Thorns offense has been hibernating.

Morgan has five goals but hasn't scored since Portland's 4-3 win over FC Kansas City on June 6. Sinclair has four goals but hasn't scored since converting a controversial penalty kick to beat Seattle on May 25.

In Portland's last game, a home loss to Boston on July 6, the Thorns took 14 second-half shots (six on goal) after falling behind 2-0. They didn't score, but took encouragement from the second-half effort.

"You go through droughts," Sinclair said. "We can't spend too much time dwelling on it. We just need to keep creating chances and eventually they'll go in."

Parlow Cone said her team needs to possess the ball better.

"We've just been giving the ball away way too easily, especially in the midfield area. So we've got to take care of that," Parlow Cone said. "And we've got to put away our chances."

Perhaps the arrival of U.S. women's national team midfielder Tobin Heath will help. Heath recently completed her season with Paris Saint-Germain in the top French women's league, where she scored four goals in eight appearances. Heath started training with the Thorns on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old had three assists during the 2012 Olympics. Heath has made 68 national team appearances and has scored eight goals. She was part of three national championship teams at North Carolina.

Heath said it will take her some time to fit in with the Thorns, a team she said has tremendous depth. She said she would love to start Sunday's game, but that Parlow Cone will decide when Heath is ready to contribute.