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Reign struggles continue in 0-0 draw with Thorns

The Thorns and Reign played to the first scoreless draw in the 11-match history of NWSL’s Cascadia Cup before an enthusiastic crowd of 18,114 at Providence Park on Sunday. The Thorns remained undefeated and moved up to second place while the Reign extended their winless run to four straight and slipped to seventh while gaining a point to pull within four of the playoff zone.

The Thorns were forced to make six changes to their lineup from a week ago thanks to United States national team camp. Playing with a midfield that did not include Tobin Heath, Allie Long, or Lindsey Horan, the Thorns were often on the wrong end of the midfield battle against the Reign who saw the return of Jess Fishlock after missing four weeks with a fractured tibia. But the Reign offered little in terms of final third play and spirited performances in back by Emily Menges and Meg Morris helped keep the Reign at bay.

Michelle Betos returned to goal for the Thorns after missing several weeks due to a nerve issue in her shoulder. There were two occasions when Betos needed attention for her shoulder after routine soccer plays that did not appear to include contact with a Reign player. The 2015 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year and former Reign FC player gutted out the full 90 and earned her first clean sheet of the season.

The Thorns (3-0-4, 13 pts) went ahead of the Spirit on a tiebreaker for second place though the Spirit have a match in hand after being postponed on Saturday night. They are a point behind the Red Stars who they will face in Chicago in a top-of-the-table class on Sunday, June 12. The Reign (2-3-2, 8 pts) are now seventh, behind Sky Blue FC on a tiebreaker. They have not scored in the run of play in 394 minutes dating to May 1 and are 0-2-2 since then. Next for them is a visit from the Houston Dash, also June 12.

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