SANTA MONICA — It’s been a busy weekend in the world of soccer as the World Cup begins its final stages to the conclusion on Sunday. However, here on the homefront, the competition continues to get tough as pro soccer heads towards its season end, and in the NWSL, every week contains a surprising result.
The Utah Royals failed to pounce on the Thorns who are blocking the Royals from being above the playoff line and Orlando just edged out Washington while North Carolina took the weekend off.
PORTLAND 4, UTAH 0
Utah sought to turn the tables on Portland after losing its last two games against Portland, but the Thorns once again got the upper hand, claiming a 4-0 lead over the Royals Friday night.
Despite the Royals being the only team to have defeated the top team in the NWSL, Portland showed no fear or hesitation, coming out strong against the Royals. Tobin Heath spurred the Thorns into a quick start early on as she chipped a shot over Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith’s head in the 2nd minute. Thirty minutes later, Heath continued carrying Portland’s momentum as she booted a free kick into the box where Lindsey Horan awaited, heading the ball into the net.
Portland continued its pressing threat as it netted two more goals. Ana-Maria Crnogorčević collected a deflected ball, tapping it past Smith to put Portland up 3-0 in the 34th minute. Tyler Lussi clinched Portland’s final goal on a breakaway run, assisted by Lindsey Horan.
Utah put up a fight against the Thorns, putting three of its seven shots on goal and recording a 72 percent passing accuracy as it controlled 53 percent of the possession. The Royals had several goal opportunities through out the night but couldn’t break past Portland’s brick wall, Adrianna Franch.
Utah falls to 5-6-4 while Portland improves to 6-5-5. Utah returns to the field on July 11 to face Seattle and July 14 against Orlando. Portland returns to action on Sunday, July 15, against Houston.
ORLANDO 2, WASHINGTON 1
The Washington Spirit nearly saw its third win of the season but failed to hold on against the Orlando Pride. The Pride edged out Washington 2-1 Saturday at Orlando City Stadium.
Washington drew the first blood of the night, netting a goal in the 26th minute as Ashley Hatch headed a corner kick through the keeper’s hands. However, it wasn’t enough to keep the dominating Pride offense out of the net. Sydney Leroux clinched the equalizer in the added stoppage time in the first half. Marta claimed the lead, however, for the pride in the 86th minute, slipping the ball around Washington’s defense.
The Spirit defense saw a long night, however, as Orlando took 31 shots over the two hours — an exceedingly high number of shots in soccer. Orland put 12 of its 31 shots on frame and recorded 77 percent accuracy on 493 passes and six corners. The Spirit managed to get off 16 shots on the night but only put five of the shots on goal.
Washington fell to 2-4-10 while Orlando improved to 7-4-5. Both the Spirit and Pride return to the pitch Wednesday to face North Carolina at 4 p.m. and Houston at 5:30 p.m. respectively. The Pride will also play on Saturday, July 14, facing Utah Royals at 4 p.m.