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U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team defeats Portland Thorns 2-1

PORTLAND, Oregon IVi – The U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team defeated the Portland Thorns 2-1 in its second of three games at the Thorns Spring Invitational.

Forward Sophia Smith scored the game-winner on the stroke of 90 minutes, taking advantage of a bad giveaway by Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, who scuffed a pass right to the U.S. forward, giving her a one-on-one chance with time to pick a corner. Smith powered the ball off the underside of Franch’s right arm and into the next from just seven yards away.

Smith has scored 10 goals for the USA at three age levels over a span of six weeks. Read more about her incredible February and March here: Sophia Soars

The Thorns took the lead in just the eighth minute when Ashley Herndon whipped a perfect far post cross from the right side right to Mallory Webber who got behind her defender and snapped a header on goal from six-yards out that bounced inside the near post.

The USA had two excellent chances at the end of the 18th minute as Thorns defender Emily Sonnett had to clear a hard Brianna Pinto shot out of the goal mouth, and Savannah McCaskill’s close range shot off the rebound was deflected for a corner kick. On the ensuing service from Pinto, the ball was pushed off the crossbar by Franch and it fell to center back Kaleigh Riehl at the far post, but her header was spectacularly saved by the leaping Franch from point-blank range.

In the 22nd minute, Smith skied a quality chance over the goal after Mallory Eubanks had gotten behind her defender on the right and crossed back into the middle. Smith got into dangerous positions several times in the second half, but could not find space for a shot on goal, until her late game heroics.

Smith did play a big part in what would be the eventual equalizer, but she didn’t score it. In the 65th minute, Thorns defender Celeste Boureille bundled into Smith from behind near the left edge of the penalty box as Smith was moving away from the goal and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.

Smith took the kick herself and shot hard, but almost right up the middle and Franch made the save. Franch did give up a big rebound off her knee and fortunately for the USA, Michelle Xiao was first to the ball before slotting a left-footed shot under the scrambling Franch. Xiao had entered the game just three minutes earlier, replacing Tziarra King, and scored her first goal at the U-23 level.

U.S. goalkeeper Casey Murphy made a handful of excellent saves in the first half to keep the score close and Thorns midfielder Amandine Henry hit the left post with a shot from distance in the 84th minute that would have made it 2-1 for her side.

In the first game of tonight’s doubleheader, the Chicago Red Stars defeated the Houston Dash, 2-1, as U.S. WNT forward Christen Press scored both goals, the first off a penalty kick. Houston’s goal was off a penalty kick as well while U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher saved a penalty kick for the Red Stars. U.S. goalkeeper Jane Campbell started her first game for Houston.

In the USA’s first match of the tournament on March 26, the young Americans fell to the Houston Dash 2-1 after giving up two late goals. McCaskill, who captained the team in both matches so far, scored the USA’s lone goal in the 74th minute.

The USA finishes the tournament against the Red Stars on Saturday, April 1 at 5 p.m. and Portland ends the tournament against Houston at 7:30 p.m. PT.

Immediately following the Thorns Spring Invitational, the U.S. U-23 will hold another training camp from April 2-8 in Orlando, Fla., that will feature a closed-door match against the Orlando Pride on April 7 and a match against the University of Central Florida.

As NWSL preseason is well underway, the U.S. rosters for both camps consist entirely of college and youth club players.

-U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. U-23 WNT vs. Portland Thorns
Date: March 29, 2017
Competition: Thorns Spring Invitational
Venue: Providence Park; Portland, Oregon
Attendance: 6,129
Weather: 52 degrees; mostly cloudy

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                             0          2          2
POR                            1          0          1

POR – Mallory Weber (Ashley Herndon)                   8th minute
USA – Michelle Xiao                                                    65
USA – Sophia Smith                                                    90

Lineups:
USA: 1-Casey Murphy; 14-Alana Cook, 17-Tegan McGrady, 3-Kaleigh Riehl, 4-Ellie Jean; 6-Jaelin Howell (7-Tierna Davidson, 62), 10-Brianna Pinto (16-Sandra Yu, 84), 11-Mallory Eubanks (9-Ashley Sanchez, 66); 19-Sophia Smith, 24-Savannah McCaskill (capt.) (8-Jordan DiBiasi, 73), 23-Tziarra King (15-Michelle Xiao, 62)
Subs not used: 22-Bella Geist, 2-Taylor Isom, 5-Taylor Racioppi, 13-Gabrielle Seiler, 18-Simone Charley, 21-Alexis Warner
Head Coach: B.J. Snow

POR: 24-Adrianna Franch; 30-Celeste Boureille, 16-Emily Sonnett, 4-Emily Menges (8-Meghan Cox, 75), 25-Meghan Klingenberg (27-Caroline Flynn, 60); 10-Allie Long, 19-Ashley Herndon (6-Mana Shim, 60), 28-Amandine Henry; 20-Kelli Hubly, 12-Christine Sinclair (capt.) (9-Nadia Nadim, 71), 26-Mallory Weber (15-Kendall Johnson, 60)
Subs not used: 33-Britt Eckerstrom, 22-Ellie Boon
Head Coach: Mark Parsons

Stats Summary: USA / POR
Shots: 9 / 15
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 5 / 3
Corner Kicks: 7 / 2
Fouls: 5 / 10
Offside: 1 / 5

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Farhad Dadkho
Assistant Referee 1: J.J. Blodgett
Assistant Referee 2: Cephas Quartson