Despite Lloyd’s Brace, Sky Blue Draws With Portland

Sky Blue, Carli Lloyd
Carli Lloyd scored twice vs. Portland. Photo: Sky Blue FC

Seeking its first win of 2019, Carli Lloyd got Sky Blue FC off to a strong start against the visiting Portland Thorns with two goals in the first 18 minutes.

But the home side was unable to hold the early lead as Sky Blue (0-2-1) and Portland shared the points in a 2-2 draw.

Lloyd gave the crowd at Yurcak Field something to cheer about early on. Raquel Rodriguez started the scoring play by splitting two Portland defenders in the middle of the pitch and sent a ball over the top of the backline to Lloyd.

Lloyd was able to collect and use her speed to get by Thorns defender Katherine Reynolds and a sliding Emily Sonnett before beating Adrianna Franch for the goal.

As Sky Blue continued to pressure Portland, Lloyd would extend the host’s lead in the 18th minute. The former FIFA World Player of the Year jumped on a poor back pass that got away from Sonnett, dodged a diving Franch and sent the ball into the back of the open net.

Portland, however, would ramp up the pressure and finally break through in the 30th minute. Tobin Heath was fouled by Paige Monaghan just outside the box. Heath put the free kick in towards the far post and Christine Sinclair was able to get control to slip the ball to an open Sonnett for the Thorns first goal of the game.

Four minutes later, the Thorns were again pressuring Sky Blue’s backline. Portland forward Caitlin Foord ran down the right flank and sent a cross in toward Heath. As the ball it hit the ground, Heath collected and backheeled it past Kailen Sheridan.

Both teams kept up the pressure in the second half seeking the game-winning goal.

Sky Blue’s first chance came from Imani Dorsey finding the feet of Lloyd as she broke into the Thorns’ final third. Lloyd was able to get a toe on it but Franch came off her line to make the save.

In the 63rd minute, Dorsey dished the ball off to Lloyd again, who cut right to beat her defender. But her chance at a hat-trick was denied by the inside of the post.

“We had some internal goals and we tweaked a little bit in the formation to try and get the best out of our players,” said Denise Reddy, Sky Blue’s head coach. “We were very disciplined, we worked all week, and we got results.”

Sky Blue FC heads south to face Crystal Dunn and the North Carolina Courage on Saturday, May 4 (7 p.m.) at WakeMed Soccer Park. The team will return home on Saturday, May 11, (3 p.m.) to face the Washington Spirit on Champion Women Day.