The Orlando Pride looked the better team for most of the match but weren't able to close out top of table Portland Thorns, who snapped Orlando's perfect home record with a 2-1 win in front of 7,143 at Camping World Stadium. The heat and humidity of Central Florida might of caught up with the Pride, as it was Orlando's third match in eight days.
Jasmyne Spencer had a world class strike that put the home team ahead midway through the second half. The Thorns rallied back after conceding and played more direct, getting goals from Florida State alum Dagny Brynjarsdottir and U.S. international Lindsey Horan.
Head Coach Tom Sermanni said he was "delighted with the effort" and thought his team was the better of the two. Sermanni continued, "We never adjusted to them playing direct."
The Orlando Pride and the Portland Thorns spent the first few minutes with a very conservative approach from both teams. Portland was applying high pressure, making it difficult for the Pride to possess up the field. Orlando tried to relieve the pressure by playing balls over the top of the Portland defense. Spencer looked to get the Pride on the score sheet first as she found herself alone behind the defense, only to be called offside in an extremely close call in the 14th minute.
Portland started to push the game and in the 21st minute midfielder Tobin Heath looked to have the first goal of the afternoon when she ran behind the Pride defense, but was a step offside. Moments later, Orlando came right back down the field when Alex Morgan got to the end line and gave Dani Weatherholt a point-blank chance that was saved by Thorns keeper Michelle Betos. Betos did well at short range to make the save but gave a rebound that fell to Spencer. The Pride forward struck an excellent shot from 14 yards out that Betos again turned away.
The Pride attack continued in the 27th minute when Morgan had her first chance of the afternoon when she was found on the back post, but she sent the ball over the bar.
A scary moment for both teams came right before the half in the 44th minute, when the Pride's Laura Alleway and Thorns' Nadia Nadim hit head-to-head in a mid-air collision. Alleway walked away with a yellow card for a "reckless foul." On the ensuing free kick, Heath was played in behind the Pride defense and pinged a shot off the crossbar just before halftime.
The second half started with the Orlando Pride continuing to push for the first goal of the game. They were controlling the possession and playing some of the best soccer of the afternoon. They were rewarded in the 67th minute, when a long ball played in to Morgan was boxed out by Betos straight to Spencer. The Pride forward made no mistake, as she took a touch and buried in the top left corner.
:scream: unreal @Jas_it_Up.— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) June 26, 2016
#ORLvPOR | 1-0 pic.twitter.com/2ydJqp8mDH
"I took a touch, looked, and thought 'keep it on frame,'" Spencer said after the match.
Portland started to play more direct and almost had the equalizer as Horan was unable to slide the ball past Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. The Pride couldn't escape the equalizer in the 79th minute, when Christine Sinclair played in substitute Brynjarsdottir, who was able to hit a nice outside-the-foot shot past Harris for the goal after winning a foot race with Alleway for the ball. The goal came much against the run of play as Orlando had been controlling the match.
Portland was searching for the winner in the 84th minute, when Hayley Raso got in between the center back and the left back and looked to be in on goal, only to be tackled away beautifully by Josee Belanger. Belanger's tackle had to be timed perfectly because she was the last defender and if was timed wrong would have been a red card and a penalty.
Portland's direct attack proved to be too much for the Pride in the 90th minute. Another long ball was played to Raso, who played a nice ball back to Horan, who buried it past Harris for the eventual game winner. Orlando tried to push for some stoppage time magic, but was unable to find much of an attack.
"Teams go up and down with energy during a game. We didn't match their energy," said right back Steph Catley.
The Thorns completed the season sweep of Orlando with a pair of 2-1 wins, and now several Pride players will leave for the Rio Olympics. Sermanni said he doesn't have any concerns about how his team will fare without some of its international stars.
The Pride will now have two weeks of rest before they host the Boston Breakers on July 10 at 5 p.m.