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Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns: Final Score 4-3 as Late Comeback Falls Short

The Pride went down 2-0, fought back to make it 3-3, and then allowed the game-winning goal deep in stoppage time.

Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Orlando Pride (2-9-2, 8 points) were second best on Sunday, but it was the same story as it has been for many games this season — conceding careless goals that lead to dropped points. Haley Kopmeyer gifted the Portland Thorns (6-2-4, 22 points) two goals and then poor defending led to the last two. The Pride went down 2-0, fought back to make it 3-3, but then allowed a set piece goal with the last kick of the match.

It was the expected lineup for the Pride, and there was only one change from a week ago. Dani Weatherholt got the start instead of Joanna Boyles, who was nursing an ankle injury. Alanna Kennedy earned her 50th appearance as a member of the Pride and 65th of her NWSL career.

Portland did not play particularly well in the first half, but Orlando gifted the Thorns goals in dangerous areas. Marc Skinner started the game in a box upstairs — as he did last week — but was forced to come down to the sideline after about 30 minutes.

In the third minute, Kopmeyer handed Portland the opening goal. The ‘keeper was extremely casual with the ball at her feet and held onto the ball for too long. Hayley Raso came at her fast with the high press, won the ball, and passed it into the empty net.

Three minutes later, Kopmeyer let a ball go right under her on a low cross. The ball bounced around in the box, and Portland would have gone up 2-0 if not for desperate defending from Orlando. And then in the 11th minute, Weatherholt attempted to pass the ball back to Kopmeyer. It was a feeble and soft pass, and Raso nearly got her brace.

Six minutes later, it was Carson Pickett’s turn to commit an error in her own box, and she made a few consecutively. First, she made an awful pass that was picked off, and then she missed on a header back to Kopmeyer. Luckily the ‘keeper got to the ball first.

The Pride had just two chances in the first half. The first came after Marta was fouled outside the box in the 23rd minute. Emily van Egmond stood over it and sent in a bending shot, but Britt Eckerstrom didn’t have to move to save it. In the 40th minute, Chioma Ubogagu put a good cross in for Rachel Hill, but the header stayed up, and it hit the crossbar.

Kopmeyer had an impressive reactionary save in the 36th minute. Dagny Brynjarsdóttir sent a header that looked like it would find the back of the net, but the ‘keeper tipped the ball over the bar.

Portland somehow only held a 1-0 lead at the break. The Thorns led in shots (12-3), shots on target (5-1), corners (7-2), and possession (58%). While the Pride were clearly second best, once again the difference was self-inflicted mistakes.

Whatever Skinner said at halftime seemed to work, and the Pride were much better after the break. Still, the Thorns should have doubled their lead in the 52nd minute. Raso was wide open at the top of the box with time and space. She took her shot, and it somehow went wide of the post.

Portland got its second in the 58th minute. Kopmeyer whiffed on a punch and Shelina Zadorsky got her head to it but could only knock it back toward her own net. Midge Purce was in on goal and made a simple finish as she headed it past Erin Greening and Zadorsky.

Then Marta seemed to wake up and put the team on her back. First, in the 61st minute, the ball was bouncing around just outside the box after a blocked shot. Marta stepped up and sent a screamer into the top corner in what will likely be a strong contender for NWSL Goal of the Week.

Portland responded immediately. The play started from a long throw, and the Pride couldn’t clear it. In fact, they helped flick it on toward goal. A quick tap back to Christine Sinclair allowed the Canadian international to slot the ball into the bottom corner. Kopmeyer had no chance of stopping it.

A minute later, Marta created another goal. It went down as an Emily Menges own goal, but it was all Marta. Ubogagu played it to the Brazilian, who took on multiple defenders and chipped it into the back of the net. Menges got a piece on it as she tried to clear it, but the Pride cut the lead to 3-2.

There was an energy and fight to the Pride then. In previous games, the Pride would give up when they were down, but this team kept fighting. Orlando threw numbers forward, and Portland defended well. In the 90th minute, Camila drew a foul. Marta sent the ball in, which Portland defended. The ball fell right to Greening, and she powered it into the back of the net. It was Greening’s first professional goal.

With the game tied, it looked like Orlando went into Portland and stole a point. Abby Elinksy, who had a physical game since she came entered the match in the 60th minute, was given a yellow card in stoppage time for fouling Meghan Klingenberg. Portland took full advantage of this opportunity.

The ball fell to Gabby Seiler, and she sent in an excellent shot that forced Kopmeyer into a desperate save. The ‘keeper tipped the ball over the bar and Portland had a corner. A perfect ball in from Klingenberg found Tyler Lussi, who sent her free header into the back of the net and Portland won with the last kick of the game.

Portland led most of the full-time statistical categories — shots (20-12), shots on target (11-6), corners (8-5), and possession (56%). However, the story of the match is not the statistics, but Orlando’s hustle and heart to fight back, which was necessary because of self-inflicted mistakes, but ultimately did not help the team get a result.

Orlando comes home next week to play Sky Blue FC at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.