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Lloyd equalizer earns Sky Blue road point in Portland

The midfielder converted a second-half penalty for the team’s third draw of the season.

Carli Lloyd scored a second-half equalizer from the penalty spot to earn Sky Blue a much-needed road point.
Tom Salus, Once a Metro

Sky Blue FC (0-9-3, 3 points) battled to a 1-1 draw against the Portland Thorns FC (5-4-5, 20 points) thanks to a second-half penalty by Carli Lloyd. The goal was enough to level the match following a first-half tally by Portland’s Lindsey Horan and earn a necessary match on the road in the league’s toughest venue.

The draw extends Sky Blue’s winless streak through the first half of the season, now going 12 matches without a win. However, it was also somewhat of a moral victory, as Providence Park has long been the league’s most hostile environment for visiting teams.

“To come into an environment like Portland tonight and get a result really says a lot about the character of our team,” Sky Blue Head Coach Denise Reddy said in the team’s post-game release.

“We started on our back foot tonight and were defending a bit too much. In the second half, there was a shift in our mentality and focus. We were pressing them on every situation, and we were really getting out on the front foot. It was a great performance in the second half, and we may have deserved more than just a point.”

As Reddy stated, Sky Blue started out the match with most of the game’s momentum going against them. Their best opportunity of the first half came in the 37th minute after goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan sent her goal kick into Sky Blue’s final third. Savannah McCaskill gathered the ball before passing it over to Shea Groom, who took a couple of touches before volleying it over for Imani Dorsey. Dorsey one-timed a left footer that forced Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch to make a diving save.

Although Sheridan herself had made a number of stops in the opening half, she was unable to prevent the Thorns from getting on the board before the halftime whistle, as Horan put the home side on the board off a set piece. The Thorns were awarded a free kick following a foul near midfield, and Meghan Klingenberg provided that the service that was first headed by Christine Sinclair before Horan’s diving header knocked it past Sheridan for the game’s opening tally.

Sky Blue looked more dominant in the second half, engaging in some back-and-forth action with the Thorns before Lloyd was tripped up in the area by Celeste Boureille in the 76th minute. The referee immediately pointed to the spot, and Lloyd stepped up to take the penalty attempt herself. Lloyd blasted her attempt into the left-side netting for the equalizer.

Sky Blue had a chance to score the go-ahead goal five minutes later when Shea Groom got on the end of Raquel Rodriguez’s through ball and had a chance to poke it past Franch, but she put the chance wide of the mark. Both Groom and Rodriguez had attempts on goal in the final minutes of the match, but Franch denied Groom and Rodriguez’s shot was off the mark.

Up next for Sky Blue is a second Week 14 road match, this time against the Utah Royals FC. That match will take place at Rio Tinto Stadium at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 30.