Thorns get 2-1 comeback victory at Boston

SOMERVILLE, Mass. – Midfielder Meleana Shim scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute and forward Alex Morgan added a goal and an assist for Portland Thorns FC in a 2-1, come-from-behind win over the Boston Breakers in front of a sellout crowd 2,978 at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, Mass., on Sunday.

Shim, who has scored a goal in consecutive matches, provided the game-winning goal with a low, hard drive from the right side of the penalty box in the 86th minute. With the score knotted at 1-1, midfielder Tobin Heath collected the ball near the halfway line and delivered a pass ahead to Morgan near the top of the penalty box. Morgan turned to find Shim making an overlapping run into the right side of the area and threaded a pass to the rookie midfielder. Shim collected the pass and fired a pin-point shot past Boston goalkeeper Ashley Phillips inside the left post for the late advantage.

A Hawaii native, Shim recorded her third goal of the year and is the fourth Thorns FC player to register a goal in consecutive matches this season.

Morgan, who registered a goal and an assist in a match for the second time this season, tallied the equalizer for Portland in the 24th minute. Following Boston’s opening goal of the match from midfielder Lianne Sanderson in the 13th minute, Morgan collected a long pass from defender Nikki Marshall and controlled the ball before maneuvering around oncoming goalkeeper Ashley Phillips nearly 25 yards from goal.

Phillips was unable to reach the ball before Morgan dribbled around her and fired into an open net to tie the match at 1-1 midway through the first half. The goal was Morgan’s team-leading sixth of the season and her first goal since a 4-3 win over FC Kansas City on June 6.

Boston (5-6-5, 20pts) opened the scoring 13 minutes into the match when a long free kick from defender Cat Whitehill reached forward Kyah Simon near the top of the box. Simon flicked a bouncing ball into the path of Sanderson, who fired a shot past Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc inside the right post.

Thorns FC (9-4-3, 30pts) move to within one point of first place in the National Women’s Soccer League with the result. Portland improved its league-best road record to 5-1-2 and earned its first come-from-behind win of the season. Thorns FC have earned points in consecutive matches when conceding the first goal after a comeback 1-1 draw against the Western New York Flash on July 14.

LeBlanc, the reigning NWSL Player of the Week, made four saves in the match for Thorns FC. The Canadian international made back-to-back stops in the 64th and 67th minutes, respectively. Boston defender Kia McNeill headed a shot toward the right post in the 64th minute following a corner kick. LeBlanc stopped the initial shot before Marshall, who was guarding the near post, helped clear the ball away from danger.

Minutes later, Boston forward Sydney Leroux found a seam near the top of the box and collected a pass from midfielder Heather O’Reilly. Leroux’s strong shot from inside the box forced LeBlanc to make a diving save to her right side, guiding the ball out for a corner kick in the 67th minute.

Thorns FC, which attempted a season-high 11 corner kicks, nearly leveled the game in the 17th minute when forward Christine Sinclair tried to chip the goalkeeper from 18 yards out. In an effort to catch the goalkeeper off guard, Sinclair reached a loose ball at the top of the box and chipped a looping shot toward goal that struck the top of the crossbar.

Boston registered eight shots (5 on goal), but were unable to break down the Thorns FC defense over the final 25 minutes of the match. Leroux attempted a team-high three shots, while Phillips made two saves.