There was one burning question Saturday night: How in the world did the Portland Thorns FC let an easy service by Sky Blue FC turn into a match-winning goal?
Sky Blue scored the games only goal in the 85th minute at Providence Park. Defender Christine Rampone took a free kick from 40 yards out. She sent a lob into the box that should have been easily defended. Somehow, though, defender Kelley OHara got behind the Thorns back line. And somehow, OHara was able to beat Thorns goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to the near post, to give Sky Blue FC a 1-0 win.
I think I need a drink after that, Thorns coach Paul Riley said.
The announced crowd of 14,427 probably left the stadium feeling the same way.
Portland (4-2-2, 14 points) completely dominated Sky Blue (2-3-4, 10 points), outshooting the visitors 18-9, with 10 shots on goal to four by the winning side.
Weve got to start putting some of the chances away, Riley said. Its a tremendous amount of chances, not even difficult chances. Easy chances.
Riley was disgusted with the Thorns' effort to begin the match.
The first half, I was really disappointed with the quality of play, he said. We were complacent the first half. We just sort of showed up and expected Sky Blue would roll over and die. I said at halftime, these people pay good money to watch this, and it was just rubbish in the first half.
Portland had a very good chance to score in the 63rd minute. Allie Long took a free kick and sent the ball into the 6-yard-box for Christine Sinclair. The Thorns striker sent a pointblank header at goal, but it went right into the body of Sky Blue goalkeeper Jillian Loyden.
It reminded me a lot of the one that happened against Seattle, Sinclair said. Found myself open, got a head on it and hit someone standing on the goal line. When things are rolling for you, those are going in, and right now theyre not for me.
Sinclair considered by many as the best striker in the world has yet to score a goal for the Thorns this season.
Its not frustration, Sinclair said. Its just, on a night like this, the team needed a goal, or two. And me and other players couldnt put a goal away.
For the first time this season, the Thorns had striker Alex Morgan (ankle) on the 18-player roster. Riley said there was no intention of playing Morgan, but admitted that it could have helped the club quite a bit if she had seen action.
We thought she had a great week, Riley said. We thought she was at least fit enough to do the warmup. She did a training session before the game, so there was no intention of playing her. It was good for the team to have her in the 18. But there wasnt a person in the stadium with 10 minutes to go who wasnt saying Get Alex Morgan in the game. She couldve won the game for us tonight.
The Thorns will play their third match in eight days on Wednesday, when they travel to Boston to face the Breakers.
Weve got a tough game in Boston, Wednesday night, Riley said. And we need the points after tonight. You always take positives from everything, but Im not feeling very positive after this one.