PORTLAND — Spurred on by a Jeld-Wen Field crowd of 13,802 and the desire to do right by a missing teammate, Portland Thorns FC used a second-half surge on Sunday to beat the Seattle Reign FC 2-0 in a National Women’s Soccer League match.
Danielle Foxhoven scored early in the second half and Meleana Shim scored her first goal of the season as Portland beat Seattle for the third time this season.
Midway through the 22-game schedule, the Thorns are tied with Sky Blue atop the standings with eight wins, one draw, and two losses.
In addition to the absence of national team players Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair and Rachel Buehler, the Thorns took the field without midfield leader Becky Edwards, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice.
“Today was for her,” said Foxhoven, who pointed to Edwards after scoring the game’s first goal in the 47th minute. “It’s such an unfortunate loss, and definitely a big one for our team. She’s the center of the park. She’s the heart of the team.”
Coach Cindy Parlow Cone noted that the Thorns only had one practice to change their plan after Edwards was injured. The result was a somewhat tentative first half from the Thorns.
“I just felt like we needed to push further up the field. We were sitting in too much for what I like,” Parlow Cone said, explaining how her team took control of play after halftime.
Foxhoven, who replaced starting striker Elizabeth Guess at halftime, made an immediate impact.
Shim, playing a midfield role in a new formation, intercepted the ball and made the pass that Foxhoven turned into the game’s first goal — a curving shot from the left side of the penalty area into the right side netting.
“Going into the second half, we just put a little more pressure on them and we got some good chances by winning the ball further up the field,” Shim said.
Shim made it 2-0 in the 66th minute, breaking free behind the defense and beating Seattle goalkeeper Michelle Betos. The opportunity was created when Angie Kerr beat a defender with a slick move on the right wing. Dashing forward from midfield, Shin accepted Kerr’s pass and was behind the defense.
Seattle, still winless, had a chance to tighten the score in the 83rd minute. But Thorns goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc stopped a penalty kick taken by Christine Narin. LeBlanc read the shot so well, that the keeper shuffled to her right and was in position for an easy kick save.
“Some of it is a guess and some of it is reading it,” LeBlanc said. “I tried to do both and I guess I got lucky.”
There are no scheduled national team commitments during the second half of the season. All eight teams will have national team players available for the stretch run, which for Portland begins with a July 22 showdown in New Jersey with Sky Blue.