Thorns FC draws FC Kansas City 1-1 in their inaugural NWSL match

Christine Sinclair converted a second-half penalty kick to help Thorns FC to a come-from-behind 1-1 draw in front of sold-out crowd of 6,784 fans at Shawnee Mission District Stadium in Overland Park, Kansas.

The Thorns FC season got off to a rocky start when FC Kansas City’s Renae Cuellar took a long pass from Kristin Mewis and scored the first goal in NWSL history in only the match’s 3rd minute.

The Thorns FC defense settled down after that but FC Kansas City, with especially strong play from their midfield, looked to be the better team in the first half.

The second half featured a much better showing from the Thorns FC defense as Becky Edwards and the rest of the backline did a much better job containing FC Kansas City’s midfield and denying their forwards opportunities.

Thorns FC got a big break in the 66th minute when second-half substitute Danielle Foxhoven was fouled by Lauren Sesselmann in the penalty area. Sinclair, the captain for Thorns FC, converted the penalty kick with a hard shot to the low right side, recording the first goal in Portland’s NWSL history in the 67th minute.

Next weekend, Thorns FC has their  inaugural home match on Sunday, April 21, against Seattle Reign FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PST) and the game will be broadcast on Freedom 970 AM as well as via web stream at

Game Stats:

Portland Thorns FC (0-0-1, 1pts) at FC Kansas City (0-0-1, 1pts)
April 13, 2013 – Shawnee Mission District Stadium (Overland Park, Kan.)

Goals by Half              1          2          F
KC                               1          0          1
POR                            0          1          1

Scoring Summary
KC – Cuellar (Mewis)                            3rd minute
POR – Sinclair (penalty kick)             67

Misconduct Summary
KC – Mewis (caution)                            43
POR – Washington (caution)              70
POR – Williamson (caution)               82

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc; D Marian Dougherty, D Rachel Buehler, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall (Emilee O’Neil, 61); M Becky Edwards, M Allie Long, M Angie Kerr (Danielle Foxhoven, 63); F Nikki Washington (Courtney Wetzel, 90), F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, M Meleana Shim

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Morgan, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Sinclair, 2); FOULS: 13 (Long, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2

KC: GK Nicole Barnhart; D Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), D Leigh Ann Robinson, D Lauren Sesselmann, D, Jen Buczkowski; M Casey Loyd (Courtney Jones, 72), M Merritt Mathias (Katie Kelly, 77), M Desiree Scott, M Kristie Mewis (Erika Tymrak, 81), M Lauren Cheney (capt.); F Renae Cuellar

Substitutes Not Used: GK Bianca Henninger, D Nia Williams, F Melissa Henderson

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Two players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three tied with 1); FOULS: 11 (Two players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3

Referee: Kari Seitz
Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Kyle Atkins
Fourth Official: Jon Freemon
Attendance: 6,784

5 thoughts on “Thorns FC draws FC Kansas City 1-1 in their inaugural NWSL match

  1. Despite a better performance in the second half KCFC was clearly the better team on the night. The call against Barnhart was…well, let’s just say that I’m not sure that Portland would have had the opportunity in another league or at another time and leave it at that. Chris did put it away nicely for the theft of the point away, but Parlow-Cone and the gals have some hard work this week if they want to make the home supporters happy.

    Renae Cuellar is a load and while I don’t think that any team on the NWSL could have contained her I thought that the Thorns backline suffered many of the same problems I saw against UP; poor communication and especially the tendency to back away and give space to KC. The disappearance of the Thorns midfield didn’t help; for much of the match I saw a huge amount of open space in front of the PTFC backline. The live feed was so bad it was hard to tell where the hell the Thorns midfield WAS, but where it wasn’t was closing down KC’s attack.

    LeBlanc was solid and you couldn’t really fault Morgan or Sinclair, since they got next to no service. But Kerr and the midfield as well as the defenders need to continue to work on their passing, communication, and their overall tactical sensibility. From what I could see the team has some more work to do.

    And, I should add, that for all that the Thorns look unpolished that we can be thankful for our home pitch; “Shawnee Mission District Stadium” is a hell of an ugly place to play soccer, what with the football gridiron scrawled all over it, and the feed from KCFC was a nasty reminder of the Timbers’ days in the USL when we would play soccer titans like the Cleveland City Stars. Remember Middlefield Cheese Stadium? The Stars would have felt right at home playing on the iron-hard turf of what looked like a high school football field in Overland Park, Kansas.

    Oh, well. Early days and all that. Home to thrash the soggy gals from the Emerald City. Onward, Rose City!

  2. Definitely agree with you on all this. That PK was a dodgy call and isn’t going to endear NWSL fans who already feel that Thorns FC received an unfair allocation in getting both Alex Morgan and Christine SInclair.

    And yes we are indeed blessed to have Thorns FC playing at such a great venue.

    1. Thing is, having seen them I now tend to agree that KCFC may well be the best organized and balanced side in the NWSL. They looked the better team for 80 minutes, and took the Thorns pretty much completely out of the game they wanted to play for the entire match. I don’t know if I was a KCFC supporter that I’d trade their players for ours, the two great strikers notwithstanding.

      I love having Sinclair and Morgan and Buehler, but we need the non-international Thorns – the Washingtons and Kerrs and Longs – to step up the way the KCFC squad did and play as a team. If I was an opposing fan and had watched that match I’d have come away rather more satisfied than less. The PK was a bit of a stretch, but overall the Thorns looked very beatable, allocated players and all. In two months we might be talking differently, but at this moment I don’t see us as the dominant team we thought we were when we heard about the allocations…

  3. just for the record. . . was Cheney or Sauerbrunn KC captain? I thought it was Sauerbrunn but did not see the opening and don’t remember the armband. . . if you could have seen it on that feed.

  4. While Portland’s defense shaped up in the second half, I never got the feeling that our midfield ever got things together. The “long searching” balls seemed more like the high school American Football “hail Mary” pass plays than passes designed for someone to receive. That is, most of the long balls did not seem to have a particular destination in mind, except for “a long long way from here.”

    Even towards the end of the game Sinclair was playing midfield while Morgan could do little but watch and futilely run after random long balls. We can hope that KC’s midfield is so much better than everyone elses, or that our midfield’s play will develop exponentially in a matter of weeks, not months.

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