Portland Thorns punch championship ticket with victory over Seattle Reign

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PORTLAND, OR - MAY 05: Portland Thorns fans wave flags and cheer a the end of the first half during the Seattle Reign 3-2 win over the Portland Thorns at Providence Park in Portland, OR, on Saturday May 5, 2018 (Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

PORTLAND, Oregon (September 15, 2018) – Portland Thorns FC are heading back to familiar territory — in two ways.

On Saturday, the Thorns punched its ticket to the club’s second-straight NWSL Championship match. Currently, the opponent is to-be-determined, with the North Carolina Courage and Chicago Red Stars facing off, Tuesday.

Portland Thorns punch championship ticket with victory over Seattle Reign

However, Saturday’s victory was extra sweet for Portland.

Longtime Cascadia rivals with the Seattle Reign FC, the two teams met up again, just after a week of facing off. Just like last time, Portland earned the victory. However, the scoreline was closer this time, with a 2-1 finish.

Megan Rapinoe was back in the lineup for Seattle. However, the striker couldn’t capitalize on eight total shots taken. Instead, only one shot registered on goal, eventually being saved by Adrianna Franch.

Meanwhile, Jasmyne Spencer was able to find the back of Franch’s net in the 29th minute. Spencer’s first-half shot was unassisted.

The score wouldn’t remain in Seattle’s favor for long. Instead, Tobin Heath equalized the match in the 43rd minute, right before halftime. Lindsey Horan assisted her fellow Thorns and U.S. Women’s National Team teammate’s goal.

Horan wasn’t done there, though. In the second half, Horan sent the game-winning goal past Lydia Williams in the 77th minute. Christine Sinclair, the club’s captain from Canada, recorded the assist.

After the match, Mark Parsons, head coach of the Thorns, said that making it to a second-consecutive championship game is “outstanding.”

“The fact that it’s at home, I don’t know if we’re going to sleep for the next week in anticipation for this and hopefully we’re not sleeping after it,” Parsons said. “Well done to what this group of players and staff continue to do to put this team in this position.”

Three Takeaways

  1. Portland has a clear advantage next weekend: It doesn’t matter who the Portland Thorns play, the club still has a major advantage of the North Carolina Courage or Chicago Red Stars. Portland is playing at home next weekend, with Providence Park already close to being sold out. Last year, the team claimed victory in the championship. There’s a chance they can do it again, despite having an inconsistent season.
  2. Battle of the goalkeepers: The match was kept interesting by the shots on goal, but even better were the saves. Adrianna Franch recorded four saves against Rapinoe, Jodie Taylor and Allie Long. Meanwhile, Williams had an equally busy night, notching three saves against Caitlin Foord, Margaret Purce and Sinclair.
  3. Seattle kept fighting — and will next season: While everyone marvels over Mark Parsons and the roster he built at the Portland Thorns, the Seattle Reign FC have an equally impressive roster. So, they don’t have five U.S. Women’s National Team players — that doesn’t mean anything. Having talents like Rumi Utsugi, Nahomi Kawasumi, Jodie Taylor and the impressive rise of Beverly Yanez has brought the team to full-circle. Adding some younger players in the off-season like Morgan Andrews and Megan Oyster can only help this club.

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