The Soccer Desk

Portland Thorns FC Head to the Final After Thriller In Kansas City

Thorns v KC

After extra time was played, the Portland Thorns came from behind to beat Kansas City and advance to the NWSL finals next weekend. In a game where Portland was not leading until the 103rd minute, the Thorns proved to be too much for the Blues and now wait to see if they will play host or if they are on the road again.

If there is one thing that can be said about the match between FC Kansas City and the Portland Thorns, it would be grudge match. After the Blues jumped out to an early lead after the 12th minute strike from Erika Tymrak things seemed to be going Kansas City’s way. The Thorns were playing without Alex Morgan who is still recovering from an MCL sprain to her left knee, and her absence was apparent in the first half.

The home side would double their lead in the 25th minute when Melissa Henderson would beat LeBlanc to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. Portland seemed back on their heels until the 33rd minute, when Tobin Heath would pull one back making it 2-1. While Kansas City were comfortable in possession for the majority of the first half, they would only take a one goal lead into the break.

The second half started with the Thorns foot on the accelerator pinning Kansas City deep in their half. Thorns head coach Cindy Parlow-Cone would make her first change in the 56th minute with Tiffany Weimer replacing Danielle Foxhoven. That change would pay its dues quickly when, in the 65th minute, Weimer broke down the Blues back line and slotted home her shot past Barnhart to equalize at 2-2.

The Thorns would be dealt a blow in the 73rd minute when midfielder Heath went down hard from a challenge. After being carried off the field, Heath’s day would be done as she was replaced by Courtney Wetzel. With Portland now pushing for the go-ahead goal, Kansas City could do nothing but defend.

The Blues would pressure LeBlanc in spurts for the remaining minutes, but would not be able to break the Canadian keeper. It looked as if things would end in dramatic fashion in the second minute of added time when Erika Tymrak took on the Thorns back line and forced LeBlanc into a great save. At the end of regulation it was all tied at two and headed into extra time.

The end-to-end action would continue into extra time, with both teams looking for the goal that could change everything. That goal would come in the 103rd minute when Allie Long would put a shot on goal that would beat Barnhart low and give the Thorns their first lead of the day. At the end of the first extra time Portland was flying high and Kansas City was fighting to get back in it.

The second extra time period saw the Thorns trying to keep their composure and maintain the lead, while FC Kansas City was trying to put out of their minds the disappointment of the last two matches. Needing a goal to try to send the game to penalty kicks, the Blues threw everything they had against Portland, but it wouldn’t be enough. At the final whistle the Portland Thorns did just enough to hold on and advance to the finals on August 31.

Photo courtesy of Portland Thorns FC