San Diego Wave Futbol Club returned after a two-week break in the NWSL season to an away match where they lost their third straight NWSL Challenge Cup match and extended their winless streak to seven across all competitions after a 4-1 loss against the Portland Thorns at Providence Park.
Head Coach Casey Stoney has used previous challenge cup matches to try different tactical formations and rotate players into the starting eleven who wouldn’t traditionally get playing time, but this match featured the most of best players minus international players away for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“Not good enough from us on lots of different levels,” Stoney said. “I think it’s been a really disappointing night, an awakening night for us, the way we’ve played and performed. Unforced errors, technical errors, and defense in our box not at our standards and unacceptable.”
The scoring began early for the Thorns, who took advantage of a mistake in the Wave box. Goalkeeper Shae Yanez stopped a cross from Morgan Weaver that deflected into the Wave left back Chai Cortez right in front of Hannah Betfort to put it in easily to make it 1-0.
The rest of the first half had some offensive chances for the Wave thanks to good crosses by Kelsey Turnbow, but the Wave were unable to put the final touch on the ball with headers by Taylor Kornieck and Rachel Hill missing to leave the score at 1-0 at the end of the first half with the Wave still very much in the match. However, the second half told an entirely different story.
In the first 16 minutes of the half, Portland put three goals on the board to make it 4-0. The first goal came from an inverse of the previous goal as Betfort accidentally passed it Weaver inside the box to score the second goal. Then, in the 58th minute, Betfort scored a brace with a header after a cross by Meghan Klingenberg, who also assisted the third goal with a cross on the ground to Reyna Reyes to make it 4-0.
San Diego managed to avoid the shutout after a corner kick taking advantage of a poor defensive moment by Portland in the 81st minute. Inside the box, players barely moved as a cross by Jaedyn Shaw soared in the air toward the tall Taylor Kornieck, who headed it in to make it 4-1.
The three-goal deficit is the tied for the largest margin of defeat in club history which happened in an earlier challenge cup match against OL Reign. The Wave have a rematch with the Reign next Friday, July 28th, in Seattle.
Abraham Zepeda is a bilingual Chula Vista Native covering the Tijuana Xolos for EVT. He spent the summer of 2022 covering San Diego Loyal SC and San Diego Wave FC. He is also currently a student at the University of Oregon pursuing a degree in journalism.