By Paul Danzer/Portland Tribune/North Carolina dominates in record 6-0 win over Portland at Providence Park
There was some mighty fine soccer played at Providence Park on Wednesday.
None of it, though, was produced by the Portland Thorns.
Defending National Women’s Soccer League champion North Carolina came to Providence Park on Wednesday and delivered a resounding statement, crushing Portland 6-0. The worst loss in Thorns history was witnessed by 17,517 fans and showed that Portland has a lot of questions to answer if it wants to unseat the reigning champions.
North Carolina improved to 11-4-4 (37 points) to jump over Portland into first place. The Thorns are 10-5-6 (36 points). That one-point difference is misleading, since the Courage have played two fewer games than Portland.
“I’m pretty sure everyone here wants to win another championship. But we all need to decide that together,” said Thorns defender Katherine Reynolds, who started in place of suspended Emily Sonnett. “That was just unacceptable tonight and we can never have a performance like that again if we want to be champions.”
Lynn Williams scored three goals, Debinha opened the scoring in the 15th minute and had three assists and Crystal Dunn had a goal and assist in the impressive Courage performance. Substitute Kristen Hamilton added a goal in the 89th minute to cap the thumping.
The Courage smothered the Thorns with their up-field pressure and used some beautiful one-touch passing to scorch Portland. Coach Paul Riley’s team is known for pressuring opponents in their defensive third, and his team put on a clinic in that regard for long stretches.
A point of emphasis for Riley entering the game was to make Portland’s Lindsey Horan defend and to limit touches for Christine Sinclair and for Tobin Heath. With Debinha, Sam Mewis and Denise O’Sullivan dominating the midfield and with Merritt Mathias paying special attention to Heath, the Courage kept the Thorns looking for answers.
“It was the most complete performance we’ve had all season,” said Riley, who coached the Thorns in 2014 and 2015.
Thorns coach Mark Parsons gave credit to North Carolina for one of the best performances the league has seen in a long time. Then he pointed at himself as the first one to blame for the subpar performance, saying that “tactical, game prep, physical, mental, emotional, it was probably down there at the very, very worst (performance). It would be easy to say sluggish on the physical side. We were just way behind everywhere. In all areas, we were way off.”
This isn’t a one-off result, though.
The Courage have won three of the last four games against the Thorns at Providence Park, including the 3-0 victory in last season’s NWSL championship match. They have outscored the Thorns 13-3 in those four games, and two of Portland’s goals were North Carolina own-goals this season that gave Portland a 2-1 win here on Aug. 11.
“We seem to like playing here. We seem to do alright in this stadium,” Riley said. “I think …read more
Source:: Daily times