(Image courtesy of Portland Thorns twitter)
For the first time since the beginning of this pandemic, Providence Park was free from restrictions, meaning Portland could play in front of a packed house. Unfortunately for fans in attendance, there were no goals to cheer for, something that isn’t too shocking knowing that Gotham’s defense is the stingiest in the league.
The excitement began early as Simone Charley put pressure on DiDi Haracic as she was fielding a back pass. The Gotham keeper wasn’t able to get the ball cleared in time and the young Thorn nearly made her pay, winning the ball but thankfully for Haracic, Charley couldn’t find the angle to get a shot off. It was a sign of how the flow of play would unfold however, as Portland just continued to pile on the chances.
In the 13th minute, Meghan Klingenberg evaded three NJ/NY defenders as she made her way into the box before firing a shot that troubled Haracic but couldn’t beat her. Just a minute later, Kelli Hubly had a chance of her own that forced Haracic to come up with a quick reaction save after Hubly won the ball off of a scramble in the box.
One of the standout players of the match was Morgan Weaver, who was a nightmare for the Gotham backline all day. Her reign of terror started in the 27th minute when she was released into open space by Marissa Everett, setting up a shot she managed to slide through Haracic’s legs. While the ball did beat the NJ/NY keeper, it caught enough of her leg to slow down enough for Estelle Johnson to come in and clear it off of the goal line.
Weaver was a threat again in the 51st when she came up with Portland’s best chance of the game; a firecracker that cleanly beat Haracic but couldn’t get the best of the post. It was created by an Angela Salem pass that slipped the defensive lines and truly looked like a threat from the moment it left her foot.
Portland weren’t done forcing saves out of Haracic yet though. In the 53rd minute, Charley was back behind the Gotham’s defenders, this time on a breakaway that required a kick save from Haracic to preserve the draw. Haracic was also called on in the 70th minute to slap a header by Weaver wide.
The best chance of the game however fell to Gotham in the 81st minute and it was nearly the feet of two former Thorns that put Portland behind. Midge Purce crossed the ball into the box as Ifeoma Onumonu soared up over the Thorns’ defenders to get her head to it. The ball clipped the inside of the post before bouncing off of Bella Bixby en route the keeper managing to smother it, solidifying the 0-0 tie.