The Portland Thorns FC rebounded from back-to-back losses and solidified their position in the race for playoffs with Wednesday night’s impressive 3-0 victory over visiting FC Kansas City in front of 16,199 fans. The top four teams qualify for the National Women’s Soccer League postseason, and Wednesday’s win propelled Portland (5-3-3, 4-1-1 at home) into third place.
Christine Sinclair scored twice—her first NWSL brace since 2013—and Hayley Raso added the third goal. Sinclair nearly recorded a hat trick, but one goal was called back. And this against one of the league’s strongest defenses backed by one of its best goalkeepers in Nicole Barnhart.
While Sinclair and Raso, who assisted the Canadian national team star’s second goal, peppered the stat sheet Wednesday, the Thorns’ commanding performance was the result of a true overall team effort.
Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch picked up her league-high sixth shutout of the season with four game-changing saves; the Thorns talented backline led by Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Menges and Emily Sonnett provided fantastic protection.
As it has all season, Portland possessed the ball nicely through its strong midfield, which features U.S. women’s national team midfielders Allie Long and Lindsey Horan (who assisted Raso’s goal), French international Amandine Henry, Meleana Shim and Raso. The Thorns controlled possession for 55.6 percent of the game and tallied 113 more passes than the Blues, with nearly 80 percent accuracy.
But FCKC certainly had its share of scoring opportunities. In fact, the Blues had three—two from Shea Groom and one from USWNT forward Sydney Leroux—in the first 24 minutes. Both teams tallied 11 shots, but six of Portland’s were on frame while the Blues managed only four. And Franch’s range made the goalmouth look quite small.
Sinclair opened up the scoring in the 15th minute when she cleaned up Long’s shot off the right post and fired it right back into the net. Raso scored the second goal in the 32nd minute on what looked like an attempted cross from the right side that looped over Barhnart—who appeared to come off her line to defend the expected cross—inside the far post.
FCKC’s best chance came in the 58th minute when Brittany Taylor sent a cross in right to Leroux, whose header went just wide.
The Thorns thought they had a 3-0 lead when Sinclair collected a poorly cleared ball right in front of the frame, but the goal was called back for a handball. Visibly irritated by the questionable call—she was shown a yellow card—Sinclair would not be denied on her next trip into the offensive third, finishing a pass from Raso into the bottom right corner of the net.
Portland will travel to rival Seattle on Saturday night while FCKC will look to rebound from Wednesday’s result when they host Houston on Sunday.