Thorns lose 2-0 to Kansas City

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Midfielder Lauren Cheney tallied a strike from distance in the 10th minute and second-half substitute Merritt Mathias added a goal in the 71st minute as FC Kansas City defeated Portland Thorns FC 2-0 before 4,774 fans at Verizon Wireless Field at Shawnee Mission District Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Suffering their first road loss this season, Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made four saves while forward Christine Sinclair attempted a team-high four shots on goal.

The home side jumped out to an early lead when defender Leigh Ann Robinson, who finished the match with two assists, picked out Cheney with a pass from the defensive third in the 10th minute. Cheney collected the ball near the halfway line and dribbled 25 yards down the middle of the field before unleashing a well-struck right-footed shot to the upper right corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead. Cheney’s goal was her league-leading eighth of the season and provided FC Kansas City with early momentum.

FC Kansas City (7-4-2, 23pts) doubled its lead in the 71st minute when a pass from Robinson was deflected into the penalty box by Thorns FC midfielder Angie Kerr. The ball looped over the Portland defense and Mathias was able to flick it into the goal past LeBlanc, who was rushing off her line to stop the threat.

LeBlanc, a Canadian international, kept Cheney from scoring her second goal of the match in the 60th minute. The FC Kansas City midfielder picked up a through pass inside the box and tried to chip LeBlanc, but the Portland goalkeeper made a nice reaction save to deny the opportunity. The rebound fell to Cheney, but LeBlanc was able to get a foot on it, pushing the shot just wide of the goal as defender Kathryn Williamson assisted in clearing the ball out of the box.

Cheney, who has scored three goals in three games against Thorns FC this season, finished the match with a team-high four shots (3 on goal) for FC Kansas City.

Thorns FC (8-3-2, 26pts) registered four shots over the final 20 minutes, including two close chances from Sinclair and one from second-half substitute Danielle Foxhoven.

Sinclair fired an open header toward the near post in the 76th minute, but FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart was in position to make the save. Barnhart, a U.S. Women’s National Team member, made five saves in the win for FC Kansas City. Just two minutes later, Sinclair made a run into the box and attempted an off-balance shot from close range, but Barnhart made the initial stop and an FC Kansas City defender helped corral the rebound.

Foxhoven, who entered the match at halftime, saw a strike from distance drift just high of the crossbar in the 88th minute.

Near the start of second-half stoppage time, Kerr delivered a cross deep into the FC Kansas City box for forward Alex Morgan. Morgan was unable to get a clean strike on the ball as Barnhart came off her line to make the stop, preserving the clean sheet.

Portland had to play the final 10 minutes of the match with 10 players after defender Marian Dougherty went off with an apparent knee injury. Thorns FC had already used all three of their substitutes before Dougherty’s injury.