(Image credit: Portland Thorns twitter)
With the Olympians back in Portland colors, the Thorns’ unbeaten run has grown to seven games thanks to a 1-1 draw with Orlando. Since losing to North Carolina on June 26, the Thorns in all their roster forms have snagged 19 of 21 points and are comfortably atop the league.
While a draw is not usually warmly received, this is one that both sides can celebrate. For the Pride, they became just the second team in seven games to take a point from the Thorns, and for Portland they found a way to claw back from an early deficit to keep the streak alive, and take a point on the road.
The point was more than just a way to keep the streak alive though, it was the clearing of a hurdle that has long seemed to stump Parsons’ side: the early deficit. At the beginning of the season Portland trailed PNW rivals OL Reign 2-1 at home after just 15 minutes, and no matter how much they controlled the possession and dictated the run of the play, 75 minutes later saw the same score line.
Three days after the puzzling loss to the Reign, Portland were reading the same book in Orlando, falling behind 2-1 with 44 minutes left and yet again, the buds never bloomed. At the time, it spelled deep concern for the squad that had just lifted the Challenge Cup, but it now serves as a benchmark to measure how far this team has come.
With an Olympic break under their belt and no longer needing to have young players consistently step up in big moments, this version of the Thorns didn’t flinch in the face of an early deficit but rather rose to the challenge.
“Throughout the whole game, we were really more patient in the final third,” Parsons explained, something he would later go on to illustrate was in stark contrast to his side’s original showdown in the Sunshine State. The May matchup was marked by urgency and panic in the offensive zone whereas the August edition was cool, calm, and collected.
Veteran Meghan Klingenberg perhaps said it best postgame when she admitted that “going down [is] never ideal, but it’s not the end of the world for our team. I know that we’re going to create chances. I know we’re going to possess the ball. I know that we’re going to play our style and impose our will on the game.”