Coming into today's match, Portland Thorns FC had not won away from home since the season began while Sky Blue FC had not lost any of their home matches so far in 2017. The Thorns rectified that statistic by picking up a 2-0 win in New Jersey with Lindsey Horan scoring two goals and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch keeping the score line in tact in the second half.
Horan double gives Portland the edge going into half time
Both teams started the match out evenly, with neither team really finding a good penetrating pass for most of the early stages in the half. The first real chance of the game came in the 14th minute when Nadia Nadim was able to not only get into the Sky Blue penalty area but also lay off the ball to Mallory Weber who had drifted away from her marker. Weber's effort was denied by a strong punch from goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan to keep the score at 0-0. In the 20th minute, the Thorns took the lead when Nadim set in a free-kick that found Horan at the far post and the US international proceeded to bullet her header past the diving Sheridan to give Portland the lead.
Sky Blue continued to create a few half chances of their own with Samantha Kerr coming closest in the 34th minute only to watch her shot go narrowly wide of the goal. The Thorns were soaking up the pressure and looking to exploit any gaps that the home side left when they were pushing for an equalizer and they did just that in the 42nd minute. Nadim was at the heart of another attack and her pass found Meghan Klingenberg who had gotten forward from the back. The full back got into the box and cut back her pass to Horan who produced a tidy finish to get only her second goal in this National Women's Soccer League season. The half ended with Kerr and Madison Tiernan testing Franch from close range but the goalkeeper produced more saves to keep the Thorns two goals up.
Franch puts on her best performance of the season
The Portland goalkeeper had had an up-and-down season by her standards but in the second half, Franch stole the show by making numerous saves to keep all three points in Portland's hands. Her first test came in the 49th minute when Kelley O'Hara took a shot from a tight angle that Franch had to use her leg to keep the ball out of the net. The next big moment of the match was in the 56th minute when Raquel Rodriguez was brought down in the box by Weber and conceded a penalty to Sky Blue. Sarah Killion, who had converted all four of her previous penalties, then stepped up to take this one but Franch guessed the right way and made another outstanding save to keep the score at 2-0.
Sky Blue continued to create opportunities but their finishing was just not quite right which made it slightly easier for Franch to get across quickly enough to make the necessary saves. The next player to test the goalkeeper was substitute McKenzie Meehan in the 69th minute who met Kerr's cross with her head only for Franch to tip the ball up and away from danger. Rodriguez got through on goal on two occasions in the latter stages of the match but again, the Portland goalkeeper was on hand to make big saves and keep her clean sheet. In the end, her second half performance gave the Thorns a much-needed road win and consigned Sky Blue to their first home defeat of the season.