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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, File

Defending champs Portland hand Utah Royals first road loss of season

By Sean Walker, KSL.com  |  Posted May 26th, 2018 @ 10:45am


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PORTLAND — Laura Harvey’s first road trip to the Pacific Northwest since leaving Seattle Reign FC did not end as hoped.

But it was good for her former archrival, the Portland Thorns.

Christine Sinclair and Lindsay Horan each scored a goal in the first half, and the reigning NWSL Cup champion Portland Thorns shut out Utah, 2-0 in front of 15,113 fans Friday night at Providence Park.

The loss was the first road loss in the first-year franchise’s history of the Royals (2-2-5), who moved to 0-1-3 away from Rio Tinto Stadium. Utah matched the hosts with eight shots, but only put three shots on frame to Portland’s five and came away with 51 percent of possession.

“A lot of players love to come here because the club does a great job of filling the stadium, and as a player, you want to play in front of big crowds," said Utah defender Rachel Corsie, who previously played for Harvey at Seattle from 2015-17. "I personally have always enjoyed coming here – I don’t enjoy getting beat here – but the fans are passionate, and we’re glad that we have that back in our home stadium."

Sinclair opened the scoring in the 18th minute, slicing a right-footed shot that caromed off Royals goalkeeper Abby Smith, then the far post, and finally into the back of the net to give the Thorns a 1-0 advantage.

The goal was just the sixth goal that snuck past Smith in 2018, and was the first time Utah trailed since April 21 at North Carolina.

Horan doubled the advantage with just over five minutes left in the half, finishing a cross from Meghan Klingenberg to give the Thorns a 2-0 halftime lead.

Britt Echerstrom made two saves to finish off the shutout for Portland (4-3-3), including a punch out in the third minute of stoppage time against Amy Rodriguez — Friday being the former U.S. international striker’s first 90-minute performance of the season.

“The atmosphere is always pretty special here in Portland," Utah midfielder Katrina Gorry said. "I thought we played pretty well, and that we dominated possession for a majority of the first and second half, but unfortunately we couldn’t put the goals in.”

Next up:

Utah’s road trip continues in New Jersey, where the Royals will face Sky Blue FC (0-6-1) at 5 p.m. MT June 2. The match will be streamed live on KSL.com and the KSL TV app.

Portland hosts league-leading North Carolina (8-0-2) at 8:30 p.m. MT Wednesday, May 30.

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