The Portland Thorns reinforced their reputation as the titans of the NWSL, recording their third win of the season. Both teams were dealt a penalty kick but it was the genius of Nikki Washington, who struck in the 51st minute that sealed the deal for Portland.
The Washington Spirit did their homework, marking all of the Thorns star performers. Robyn Gayle tracked Alex Morgan from behind in the first half. Unfortunately her suppression of Morgan's attempts at goal were short lived due to poor judgment by Domenica Hodak who took Morgan down and coughed up a penalty kick, which the striker duly converted.
Regardless of the scoreline, the Spirit defense was superb, with Tori Huster and Ali Krieger putting in much of the leg work to shut down Christine Sinclair and aggravate Allie Long. Despite her earlier blunder, Hodak redeemed herself by cutting out a low cross from Sinclair which was bound for Morgan.
Both squads challenged for the ball with aggression but it was the opportunistic goal by Nikki Washington which placed added pressure on the Spirit to find two goals in 40 minutes -- against a ruthless defense. The Spirit's Matheson and Hodak could not contain their frustration towards Morgan for on two separate occasions they individually tackled Morgan to the ground by tangling up her legs.
Gayle held a great performance for the back line shipping crosses into the box from the left flank. Unfortunately she risked the Thorns extending their lead after making a poor clearance which was tracked by Morgan. The net was briefly unattended as Harris attempted to clear the ball but could not reach in time and Morgan's strike hit the crossbar.
Caroline Miller and Stephanie Ochs persistence up front opened up opportunities for not only themselves but for Diana Matheson and Lori Lindsey. These four played exceptionally well and outshined Portland for a stretch of time. Matheson threaded a promising ball up to Miller but it was cleared by Rachel Buehler in the 30th minute. Buehler was the wall standing in between Miller and the net throughout the match, as she made dashing runs into the box but could not outpace Buehler.
Two golden opportunities were presented to Tiffany McCarty after ,making a run into the box preventing Buehler from cutting it out but LeBlanc was there to block the shot. McCarty would get a second chance off another run passed the defenders but she took an extra touch on the ball allowing LeBlanc to catch up. If McCarty would have chipped the ball over LeBlanc's head rather than wait for it to settle on the ground, she could have found the back of the net. The Spirit scored in the 86th minute when Matheson was taken down in the box and received a penalty kick.