It was a blustery Sunday night in Portland as the Thorns and Racing faced off in a hard fought preseason match. A headed ball by Portland’s Meaghan Nally in the 87th minute was the decider in this close 1-nil matchup.
There were lots of new faces on the Racing side compared to their starting lineup the last time they played Portland in 2022 including: Carson Pickett, Abby Erceg, Elli Pikkujämsä, Ary Borges, Paige Monaghan, and Wang Shuang. The Portland starting 11 included all returning players from last year’s squad.
Portland came out aggressive in the first half, with six shots to Racing’s one, but were unable to make the solid connection to find the netting, mostly due to the apt defense by centerback du Abby Erceg and Elli Pikkujämsä. Of the two, Racing head coach Kim Björkegren said, “Abby, she’s a leader that we need there, Elli is still young and [this] is the first year for her in this league. It goes a bit quicker with all the transition here. She missed it once when Smith was alone with the goalkeeper, but overall she did good as well.”
Racing had more corners than Portland in the first half and likely more crosses, but were unable to get that final touch in the box to redirect on frame. “Both Carson [Pickett] and Lauren Milliet, they’re doing a fantastic game, top quality outside the box by both of them,” said Björkegren after the match. “We had many crosses inside of the box, again, we need to be a little bit more hungry inside it. We need to take the opportunity that is there inside the box. We maybe had five, six half chances and you need to take one of those to have a point or have a chance to win.”
Louisville goalkeeper Katie Lund had quite a few saves to keep them in the match including a one-on-one in the first half, a kick clearance while half on the ground, and a diving save in the final ten minutes. Björkegren called Lund’s diving save as “World Class.” “She’s great, and the funny thing with her, she still has a much higher potential because there are more things to learn … In three, four, years, I don’t know how good she will be because in my opinion she’s already now one of the best goalkeepers in the league.
With a team largely similar to last…
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