Preseason: Portland Thorns vs. United States U-23s

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The United States U-23 squad fell 4-1 to the Portland Thorns on Wednesday evening.

In a surprising turn of events, the U-23s got on the board first in the 13th minute off a goal by Sarah Weber of Nebraska. They held that lead through the first half, but Portland began to sub in an increasing number of starters in the second half. Finally, in the 74th minute, Thorns’ draftee Izzy D’Aquila found an equalizer.

After that, it was the Thorns in the driver’s seat as they scored three more goals in just eight minutes.  The ultimate game-winner came in the 84th minute via forward Sophia Smith, followed by another in the 90th by forward Morgan Weaver, and in the first minute of stoppage time, the final goal from Japan international Hina Sugita.

Izzy D'Aquila goal celebration
Izzy D’Aquila goal celebration – Image courtesy Taylor Vincent

Portland’s Takeaways

It was obvious Portland wasn’t going to accept a loss to the U23s, so it’s not surprising they started bringing out the big guns around the 70th minute with Sophia Smith, Crystal Dunn, and Morgan Weaver clocking. Even so, it was rookie Izzy D’Aquila that ultimately broke through and put the Thorns on the board. The fact that D’Aquila had signed with Portland through 2025 with an option for 2026 had been announced only a few hours prior to the start of the match, so it’s definitely a good feeling for Thorns fans to know one of their newest players is already producing results.

Speaking of D’Aquila, she was subbed on in only the 20th minute due to a very worrisome injury to Canadian national team member Janine Beckie. In the 18th minute or so she attempted to toe-poke the ball away from a U-23 player but got her leg tangled. She was eventually stretchered off the pitch and was on crutches at the end of the match. This is an awful development for both the Thorns and the Canadian national team – especially in a World Cup year – but, hopefully, it’s not as serious as it immediately seems.

All in all, the Thorns are using this tournament to demonstrate that they’re the same championship-winning club as last year. Despite yet another off-season coaching change, they seem like they’re going to continue to be one of the more formidable teams in the league. The first goal was given up with almost no starters on the pitch. Their performance against Racing previously was also strong and if they failed to score earlier, that’s probably as much due to Racing’s improvement in the off-season as anything. The…

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