Portland, Oregon (July 25, 2019) — Wednesday night matches can seem like a nightmare for MLS or NWSL teams. It’s hard to get people out of the house and ready to party on a work night. People have to be up early for jobs, school, summer camp or other obligations.
However, the Portland Thorns didn’t run into this problem.
NWSL: Portland Thorns smash attendance record — and Houston Dash
Instead, 22,329 fans showed up at Providence Park to watch the Thorns take on the visiting Houston Dash. Fans weren’t disappointed with their home team, either. Instead of just smashing a club record for most fans at a home match, Portland decided to crush their opponent. They put up a whopping five goals against the Dash.
Mark Parsons described the moment and crowd as unbelievable.
“Unbelievable on a Wednesday night,” Parsons said. “A new Thorns record and only 700-800 away from the NWSL record. Riveters, Portland Thorns fans, Portland as a city, this community… I feel like it’s every month, every couple of months they set a new standard and then they smash a new standard. It’s a privilege to be here, working with these players, being in front of these fans, enjoying the best atmosphere in the world.”
As mentioned, the Thorns players put on a show for their fans. The Thorns tallied four goals in the first half, all scored before the 25th minute. Lindsey Horan notched the first goal in the 7th minute. Five minutes later, Haley Raso found the back of the net.
The stage was set for Christine Sinclair in the 18th minute. Portland was awarded a penalty when Amber Brooks took down Midge Purce inside the box. Sinclair lined up her penalty and slotted it past Jane Campbell. However, that’s no easy task; Campbell has been saving penalties left and right this season for Houston.
Raso ended up finding the back of the net again in the 23rd minute. The final goal of the evening came off an own goal from Campbell.
— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) July 25, 2019
Houston, we have a problem?
While the Thorrns celebrated, the Dash lamented. Last weekend almost seemed like a turning point for Houston. They defeated the Washington Spirit on the road before jetting cross country to Oregon.
However, the Dash couldn’t hold up against the quick Thorns.
After the match, head coach James Clarkson said he takes full responsibility for the first half. He admitted that technically he got it wrong against Parsons’ squad.
“We made adjustments in the second half,” Clarkson said. “I’m really proud of the players’ application in the second half. First half is on me… They’re top players – they’re a great side. Arguably, that’s the best team we’ve played this season. Certainly, in those first 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the game was over in 30 minutes.”
Meanwhile, there was a little joy for midfielder Sofia Huerta. The 26-year-old from Idaho made her 100th NWSL appearance against the Thorns. However, Huerta admitted that there was mixed emotions, due to the loss.
“I think that it says a lot about my career,” Huerta said. “I’ve always been a fighter. I’m glad I was able to get my 100th cap in such a cool environment with Houston. I feel like Houston stood by me in a very tough time during my career last year. I’m excited that I was able to get my 100th cap with them.”
Houston will now have a short turn-around. They host Sky Blue FC on Sunday night, down at BBVA Compass Stadium. Sky Blue is also coming off a loss, to the Washington Spirit. Meanwhile, Portland will have the weekend off.
— Houston Dash (@HoustonDash) July 25, 2019
Washington barely edges out Sky Blue FC
The last five matches have been rough for the Washington Spirit.
Surprising everyone in the league, Washington came out rolling this season. They didn’t have Rose Lavelle a lot, due to the fact that she only played one match before jetting off for the World Cup. However, under new head coach Richie Burke, the team made stride with a youthful squad.
However, in the last five matches, Washington has picked up two draws and three losses. Entering Yurcak Field, the Spirit were riding a three-game losing streak. Some reinforcements were back for the Spirit, including Lavelle. However, she wasn’t the hero for Washington on Wednesday night.
Instead, it was Ashley Hatch.
Hatch scored the game-winning goal on a breakaway chance. She beat out two defenders and then slipped the ball in between Kailen Sheridan’s legs. Hatch’s goal is her fourth of the season. She now ties teammate Jordan DiBiasi for the most Spirit goals.
Washington certainly outplayed the New Jersey club at home. However, despite the loss, Sky Blue FC celebrated their first-ever sellout crowd. A total of 5,003 fans packed themselves into Yurcak Stadium. However, the team did announced their plans to leave Yurcak before next season.
Sky Blue FC will take on the Houston Dash at BBVA Compass on Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Spirit will have the weekend off, just like Portland.
— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) July 25, 2019
Photo: Providence Park boasted a record-crowd in the Portland Thorns FC match against the Houston Dash on Wednesday night. Photo courtesy of Craig Mitchelldyer/ISI Images.