NWSL Game of the Week: Portland Thorns FC vs Washington Spirit

Emily Sonnett of Washington Spirit reacts during a match
Emily Sonnett of the Washington Spirit reacts after a missed opportunity against the OL Reign on May 22, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

With the league’s most grueling schedule, the Washington Spirit took on the Portland Thorns at Providence Park in their fourth league match in May. The Spirit started its season on May 1st and has had multiple games per week.

Coming into the matchup, the Thorns were out of the top six with four points on the season. The Spirit were close to the bottom after registering but a single victory against OL Reign in their first game.

This game ended in a 1-1 tie but it was full of chances from both sides, contributing to an exciting fixture. Young USWNT stars Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman were the two players to look out for on each team. Portland’s Smith and Washington’s Rodman did not disappoint, each having multiple chances throughout the night.

The Thorns also started USWNT veteran Becky Sauerbrunn after she missed the Challenge Cup and the first few games of the season due to a knee injury.

Smith had the lone goal for the home side and Ashley Hatch had the goal for the away side.

Overall, the Spirit is very fortunate to come out with a point after their tough schedule leading up to the match.

Highlights: Portland Thorns FC vs Washington Spirit

Both teams came out on the right foot, attacking the goal and putting in the defensive work. The first half consisted of plenty of shots from the Spirit that either missed the target or gave Portlands goalkeeper Bella Bixby an easy save. Spirit’s defense was also successful in shutting down Smith and plenty of other attacks.

At half-time, Portland made two substitutions that saw Morgan Weaver and Meghan Nally replace Rocky Rodriguez and Sauerbrunn. Once again, the Spirit came out firing with multiple chances in the first few minutes of the half.

In the 57th minute, Portland opened the scoring. Smith took on Sam Staab one versus one and slotted the ball into the far post corner past Aubrey Kingsbury.

Not long after, in the 63rd minute, the Spirit equalize. Anna Heilferty sent in a perfect cross to the center of the box where Hatch headed the ball over Bixby, who was coming into the challenge.

Three minutes later, Ashley Sanchez hit a powerful volley that was expertly saved by Bixby. In the 71st minute, the Spirit thought they had the game-winner, but ultimately the goal was called offside.

The game finished with a 1-1 tie, splitting the points between the teams.

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Player of the Match: Emily Sonnett

The Player of the Match would have to go to Emily Sonnett.

The defender put on a solid performance at the back. With the likes of Smith and Weaver on the attack, the Spirit knew they had to be ready for plenty of shots. Sonnett prevented Smith from having solid chances all game which is definitely a big win.

What’s Next?

The Washington Spirit plays the Orlando Pride on May 27th and the Portland Thorns play the Chicago Red Stars on May 28th.

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