Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns FC: Final Score 0-2, first-half goals sink Chicago

Conceding early to Alex Morgan and Allie Long is not a recipe to win games, and lo and behold, Chicago lost to the Thorns

The Portland Thorns beat the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 thanks to an early blitz which saw first-half goals from Alex Morgan and Allie Long. The visitors were the better side and could easily have scored more: only Chicago's defense prevented the scoreline from looking worse.

Chicago did not have time to adjust to the tempo of the game and that failure cost them. In just the third minute of play, Morgan slid a low strike beneath Erin McLeod to open the scoring; a minute later Christine Sinclair bounded into the box and threatened to expand the lead only to see her shot sail wide. Chicago would counter off a Zakiya Bywaters run outside the edge of the box between two defenders but she was run off course by Rachel Buehler.

In a rather curious move by Chicago, they appeared to be happy to leave Morgan unmarked after her opener -- the defenders spent their time down Sinclair, who was threading passes through the midfield. The Morgan nearly took advantage of the slack for her second, picking up a cross and running into the box unsupervised, but McLeod was able to cut out the danger.

Chicago's defense woke up after that scare, and they worked much harder to deny Morgan space rather than simply focusing on Sinclair. A Vandenbergh interception was followed by a steal from Quon to move up the flank. Even though that push didn't work, Chicago were still looking good, and Leslie Osborne in particular was diligent in her defending to prevent Sinclair from getting time on the ball.

In the 22nd minute, Chicago received an opportunity to equalize after Bywaters sent a pass to Julianne Sitch. She directed towards the upper half of the net, forcing LeBlanc to extend her arm and knock the ball out of danger. Portland tried to counter with Long down the flank connecting with Morgan who shipped a cross to Sinclair sitting in the box but Vandenbergh obstructed her ability to direct a header.

Despite Chicago tightening up on defense, the second goal was scored by the Thorns. It arrived in the 34th minute from the Washington-Long partnership up top. Washington sent a curving cross ahead of the Chicago defenders to find Long, who blasted the shot past McLeod.

The controversial moment of the match came in at the 38th minute when Sinclair beat three defenders into the box to send a fizzing strike on goal. The ball crashed off the crossbar, Sinclair insisted that the ball had gone over the line, but no goal was given.

Chicago did well in the second half to stave off Portland, but the Thorns were still the best side. It took a combination of good defending, good goalkeeping, and the woodwork to keep the visitors from finding the net again. No matter for Portland, however -- they had a two goal cushion, and the Red Stars never looked like threatening their win.

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