Portland Thorns FC completed a season sweep of their Cascadia rivals with a 2-1 victory over Seattle Reign FC in front of a sellout crown at Starfire Stadium on Saturday night. The match kicked off a little more than an hour after the conclusion of the Flash’s victory over the Breakers that took the Thorns out of contention to host a semifinal match. They will now finish third in the table unless Sky Blue score at least three goals and beat the Spirit by two or more goals on Sunday. The Reign finish 0-4 against the Thorns and losers of their last four. They had already clinched the seventh spot in the eight-team NWSL.
Seattle took an early lead through Megan Rapinoe but she was cancelled out by Christine Sinclair in the 8th minute. Sinclair then notched the game-winner for the Thorns in the 83rd. None of the three goals are destined for any highlight reels.
A 3rd-minute long-ball by Lauren Barnes sent Rapinoe behind the Thorns defense on the left flank. With no one closing her down effectively, Rapinoe snuck towards the middle and beat Karina LeBlanc with an off-angle shot to the far post.
Sinclair’s first goal was the product of a sweet through-ball by Allie Long and an egregious error by Hope Solo. Long’s ball put Sinclair behind the Seattle defense and Solo made a rare tactical blunder by coming off her line to greet Sinclair above the 18-yard box. Sinclair beat Solo to the ball and as the American keeper backtracked, the Canadian forward found herself with an easy finish. The goal conceded means the Reign will enter their first off-season without having held their opponent off the scoreboard in any of their 22 matches.
The match remained 1-1 much of the night until another defensive blunder allowed Sinclair to score again. This time it was Tiffany Weimer playing a switching, long-ball down the right side where three Reign defenders allowed the ball to bounce two times. Sinclair outpaced and moved around Kate Deines and then positioned herself to take the ball out of the air and score her second of the night and 8th of the season, tying injured Alex Morgan for the team lead.
The Reign, led by Rapinoe, continued pushing for another goal and forced LeBlanc into some professional saves. Rapinoe also got the post with a hard shot, but it was not to be for the Reign (5-14-3, 18 pts.) in their season finale. The Thorns (11-6-5, 38 pts.) will be at either Western New York or Kansas City in next weekend’s semifinals. Their seeding and opponent will be determined by the outcome of Sunday’s matches.
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