PORTLAND — Alex Morgan’s star power was on display again Thursday.
And the Portland Thorns FC needed every bit of Morgan’s magic to overcome FC Kansas City.
Four days after scoring twice for the United States against Canada, Morgan made a couple of world-class plays to help Portland beat Kansas City 4-3 in a National Women’s Soccer League match in front of 10,886 at Jeld-Wen Field.
Morgan scored two goals and set up another, and Courtney Wetzel and Danielle Foxhoven also scored for Portland (7-2-1).
“Coming into tonight I was really motivated,” Morgan said. “I felt confident about my team and about myself. Obviously, I love to score goals and contribute in any way I can.”
Lauren Cheney scored twice for Kansas City (3-3-1) in a match that featured plenty of savvy from national team players.
Energized by the movement of Christine Sinclair and Morgan, the Thorns struck for two early goals.
First it was Morgan, as opportunistic as ever, using her speed and finishing ability to turn a slip by defender Becky Sauerbrunn into a goal. Sauerbrunn got a touch on the ball, but stumbled, leaving Morgan to dash into the penalty area and rip a shot just under the crossbar in the 12th minute.
The second goal was a piece of precision. Sinclair lifted a pass from the center of the field to overlapping defender Marian Dougherty, who dashed into the right side of the penalty area and angled a pass back to the middle for Courtney Wetzel to finish.
“It was pretty hard to miss, to be honest,” Wetzel, the former Oregon State Beaver, said.
Kansas City scored in the 34th minute with Cheney converting a penalty kick. Renae Cueller was chopped down in the penalty area by Rachel Buehler, who was scrambling to deny Cueller a scoring chance. The opportunity developed after Portland defender Nikki Marshall took a bad angle on a long pass to the right wing, giving Kansas City a numbers advantage on the attack.
The Thorns regained their two-goal lead less than three minutes into the second half when Morgan was able to spin free near the top of the penalty area and send a low ball to the front of the goal for Foxhoven to finish.
A few minutes later, Cheney scored her second goal for KC, beating a defender to a Leigh Ann Robinson cross to the near post.
A quick counter attack started when Portland’s Allie Long won the ball in midfield produced Morgan’s second goal. Long ran at the defense, then sent a pass to her left that Sinclair crossed back into the goal mouth. Morgan was able to settle a loose ball and blast a shot into the open net.
The shot appeared to deflect off Long on the way to the net, and Morgan said her teammate probably deserved credit for that goal.
But Kansas City answered again, pulling to within one again when Erika Tymrak scored in the 80th minute.
“It was a good game for the crowd,” Thorns goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc said with a laugh. “I guess we can walk away knowing that the crowd was happy.”
For that, thank Morgan.
“It feels good the way I’ve been playing,” Morgan said. It’s just working hard, putting that effort in. It really is contagious. showing your team you want to work for them. They want to do the same and I think that’s what happened tonight.”