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Sky Blue FC breaks 10-game winless streak behind Kerr's goal

On a night when Sky Blue honored the United States World Cup stars returning home, New Jersey adds to the fun with 1-0 win over Portland

Sky Blue photo/Robyn McNeil

Now this was the lineup that Sky Blue FC fans - and team management - hoped to be on the field with winning results. Well, almost anyway.

On the night when Sky Blue FC welcomed back the World Cup players - especially four from the US Women's National Team - it was an Australian national team player  -- Samantha Kerr—that spelled the difference at Sky Blue FC beat the visiting Portland Thorns FC, 1-0, at big crowd at Yurcak Field at Rutgers University in Week 13 of National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) action.

The victory snapped a 10-game winless streak - dating back nearly three months. Sky Blue FC is now 2-6-4 for 10 points.  The victory was in front of a season high crowd of 3,014 who sounded much louder than that throughout the night.

"It's huge to have the atmosphere we've had here," said Sky Blue FC coach Jim Gabarra. "It may have been only two or three thousand but it's a great crowd."

Kerr scored the game's only goal in her first appearance with Sky Blue FC in the 52nd minute by finishing off a superb service from overlapping outside back Maya Hayes.

Sarah Killion, also back to lineup after injury, put a ball in between a pair of Portland defenders. Originally, she thought it was too strong but the speedy Hayes tracked it down deep in the corner and served to far post.

Kerr, who had been active all night and came close several times, leaped and snapped a header into the upper right corner - leaving Portland goalkeeper Michelle Betos no chance.

Kerr had been ruling the right side of the field all night. She teamed with Nadia Nadim and attacking midfielder Katy Freels several times in both halves but either the timing was slightly off resulting in offside or shots went straight to Betos

"I've played with a lot of these girls or against them before so I had an idea of how they would play," said Kerr. "I've watched some of their games, too, and I am really excited to join them."

Kerr nearly doubled the lead racing 40 yards with ball down the right side, striking a low shot that beat Betos but went outside the post.

"I expected more, actually," Gabarra said. "She should have had at least two goals and one assist on the play she cut back into the box. Nadia usually was making the run but for some reason didn't."

Defensively, Cameron had to make a few late saves, including back-to-back parries in stoppage time in the second half. Cameron volleyed Ayo's point-blank shot over the bar. On the ensuring corner kick, she backpedaled and swiped the serve out of pay.

Kerr joined fellow Australian Cailtin Foord on the pitch as US National Team players Kelly O'Hara and Christie Rampone were honored in a pre-game ceremony but didn't play. Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath, two US players on the Thorns' roster, were also recognized but didn't play.

Canada's Jonelle Filigno came on in the 89th minute for Sky Blue to round out the World Cup players

With the victory and Rampone and O'Hara set to join them in Rochester Sunday against West New York, Gabarra thinks his side can make run at a playoff spot.

"There's plenty of time left," he said. "Five games, 15 points are out there. If we take care of our business, we can do it. It won't be easy but we can do it."