By Liviu Bird
PORTLAND, Ore. — Danielle Foxhoven is carving out a reputation for being deadly off the bench. On Sunday, the Portland Thorns FC forward scored her third goal of the season just three minutes after entering in a 2-0 win over Seattle Reign FC.
Karina LeBlanc saved a penalty kick from Christine Nairn in the 84th minute to cap off the victory, after Nikki Marshall blocked a shot with her outstretched arm to draw the call.
The game did not find much of a rhythm in the early going, with referee Robert Sigiba’s whistle seeing most of the action. He called 12 fouls in the first half, eight on Portland and four on Seattle, in keeping with the rough nature of Cascadia derby matches. In addition, each team was called offside twice in the first 45 minutes.
The first shot on target came after 12 minutes. It was a tame effort from Thorns midfielder Angie Kerr as she cut in from the left side, her shot nestling comfortably into Michelle Betos’ hands.
In the 23rd minute, Thorns forward Mana Shim twisted and turned with the ball inside the 18-yard box, presenting Jazmyne Avant with a clean look at goal. However, the overlapping left back pulled her shot wide.
Portland continued on the offensive as the half drew to a close, ending with the majority of scoring opportunities, although perhaps not the clearest chance of the half.
That fell to Reign forward Kristina Larsen on her 25th birthday, but she could only head over the bar from six yards out. Teresa Noyola’s cross from the right flank found her unmarked, but the match would remain scoreless at halftime.
Thorns head coach Cindy Parlow Cone brought on Foxhoven to start the second half, and she had an immediate impact.
After receiving a pass from Shim on the left edge of the penalty area, Foxhoven dribbled toward the endline and cut back onto her right foot. She looped a shot over Betos’ head and just inside the right post to give her team a 1-0 lead.
Foxhoven has appeared in 10 matches in 2013, starting just once, and playing 329 total minutes.
A minute later, Portland LeBlanc dove low to her left to keep out a close-range header from Nairn, preserving the slim lead.
After providing her teammates with multiple opportunities in the match, Shim had one of her own in front of goal in the 67th minute and made good on it.
She started a run from deep in the midfield, cutting an unmarked path through the middle toward goal. Angie Kerr saw it, and she slid a ball through right on Shim’s foot that the Hawaii native finished calmly.
Foxhoven and Shim nearly combined for a third Portland goal in the 78th minute, but Foxhoven hit a shot over from 18 yards out after receiving a pass from Shim on the left side.
Seattle’s hopes for a result in the game effectively ended when LeBlanc stopped Nairn’s penalty, resigning the Reign to another loss. Head coach and general manager Laura Harvey’s side remains the only team in the National Women’s Soccer League without a win, and it has lost nine in a row since an opening-day tie against the Chicago Red Stars.
With the win, Portland momentarily took sole possession of first place, as Sky Blue FC’s game against the Boston Breakers kicked off 90 minutes after the match in Portland.
The Reign (0-9-1, one point, eighth place) travels to the East Coast next weekend, taking on the Western New York Flash on June 23. The Thorns (8-2-1, 25 points, first place) will be in the same neighborhood, away to Sky Blue FC in a top-of-the-table matchup on June 22.
• The Thorns listed midfielder Becky Edwards on their pregame injury report as “out” with a torn left ACL in her knee. Her season appears finished after sustaining the injury in training on the grass at Nike World Headquarters on Thursday.
Team owner Merritt Paulson tweeted that Edwards was close to being called into the national team before her injury.
• Five amateur players were available for selection on Sunday: Portland’s Cris Lewis, Amanda Dutra and Carlie Davis, and Seattle’s Bree Rowe and Joana Houplin.
Federal Way, Wash., native Rowe is the sister of Kelyn Rowe, who plays for the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer. On the other hand, Dutra is not related to Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra.
• Three players on each side missed Sunday’s match on international duty.
The Reign’s Hope Solo and the Thorns’ Alex Morgan and Rachel Buehler were called into the United States team for a pair of friendlies against Korea Republic on June 15 and 20.
Seattle’s Kaylyn Kyle and Portland’s Christine Sinclair will play for Canada against Germany on June 19.
Welsh international and Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock traveled to Slovakia with her national team for a match on Monday.
Portland Thorns FC: Karina LeBlanc; Jazmyne Avant, Nikki Marshall, Kathryn Williamson, Marian Dougherty; Allie Long, Courtney Wetzel; Angie Kerr (Jessica Shufelt, 87), Mana Shim, Nikki Washington (Emilee O’Neil, 60); Elizabeth Guess (Danielle Foxhoven, 46)
Unused substitutes: Adelaide Gay, Cris Lewis; Amanda Dutra, Carlie Davis
Seattle Reign FC: Michelle Betos; Kiersten Dallstream, Lauren Barnes, Kate Deines (Jenny Ruiz, 73), Kristen Meier; Christine Nairn, Keelin Winters, Elli Reed; Teresa Noyola, Kristina Larsen (Liz Bogus, 56), Lindsay Taylor (Tiffany Cameron, 77)
Unused substitutes: Haley Kopmeyer; Lyndsey Patterson, Bree Rowe, Joana Houplin