Round three of the Pacific Northwest battle went in favor of the Portland Thorns as they topped their regional rival Seattle Reign 2-0 on Sunday night in front of 13,802 fans.
Super sub Danielle Foxhoven got her third goal of the season just past halftime and Meleana Shim notched a goal in the 66th minute to seal the deal. Thorns goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc kept the slate clean late in the match with a kick save on a Christine Nairn penalty kick.
Foxhoven got the game winner three minutes into the second half when she bent a right footed shot into the far post. Shim slipped a pass to the former Portland Pilot on the left side of the box and Foxhoven cut back around her defender before beating Michelle Betos.
Betos was seeing her first minutes since a 4-2 loss to Washington on May 16.
Shim notched her first tally of the season in the 66th minute, doubling the Thorns lead. Angie Kerr played a through ball from the right side to a streaking Shim just inside the box. Shim took a touch as Betos tried to cut the angle off and blasted it into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
The Reign had an opportunity to pull within one late in the match when Nikki Marshall was whistled for a handball in the box in the 83rd minute. There was no controversy on this one as Christine Nairn stepped up to take it. Her left-footed shot was stopped by LeBlanc on a kick save to preserve the shutout.
Seattle’s Christine Nairn created the first dangerous opportunity in the 24th minute as her cross almost found the head of Teresa Noyola and bounced around in the box before it was cleared out of the box.
Two minutes later, Shim put a low, hard left-footed shot across the goal mouth from 20 yards out but Michelle Betos made the save easily.
The Thorns were playing without Becky Edwards who suffered a season-ending ACL tear during training on Thursday as well as Alex Morgan, Rachel Buehler and Christine Sinclair. Seattle was also missing four players in Emily Zurrer, Kaylyn Kyle, Hope Solo, and Jessica Fishlock.
With the win, the Thorns improve to 8-2-1 (25 points) and are sitting in a first place tie with Sky Blue FC. The two will battle it out for first place in the league on June 22 when Portland travels to Piscataway, NJ. The match kicks off at 7pm E.T.
Seattle falls to 0-9-1 (1 point) and have dropped nine straight matches. They will look to win their first of the season when they travel to Sahlen’s Staium to take on the Flash on June 23 at 4:05 pm.
- Seattle turnaround: While the Reign have looked improved recently, we’re at the halfway point of the season and Seattle is still winless. They have looked calmer in the back with Solo’s return, at least at times. The rotation of that backline likely isn’t helping at all as injuries have been a factor until recently. Both Elli Reed and Kate Deines saw playing time, with Reed going the full 90.
- Becky Edwards: She has been solid this season, playing every minute of every match going into this one. Allie Long can drop into playing defensive mid when Tobin Heath arrives or Angie Kerr is capable of playing in the center of the field as well. The Thorns have some options but will miss their captain’s presence.
- European Returns: We should be seeing the return of Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath for Seattle and Portland respectively. Initially both players were slated to be back at the end of June which is approaching rapidly. Rapinoe’s return could prove to be a catalyst for turning the Reign around but whether it’s too late at this point still remains to be seen.
Goals by Half 1 2 F
SEA 0 0 0
POR 0 2 2
POR: Foxhoven (Shim), 48
POR: Shim (Kerr), 66
POR: Guess (Caution), 39
POR: Washington (Caution), 43
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc (capt.); D Marian Dougherty, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall, D Jazmyne Avant, M Nikki Washington (Emilee O’Neil, 60), M Courtney Wetzel, M Allie Long, M Elizabeth Guess (Danielle Foxhoven, 46), M Angie Kerr (Jessica Shufelt, 86), F Mana Shim
Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, GK Cris Lewis^, D Carlie Davis^, M Amanda Dutra^
SEA: GK Michelle Betos; D Lauren Barnes, D Kate Deines (Jenny Ruiz, 73), D Elli Reed, D Kiersten Dallstream, M Teresa Noyola, M Christine Nairn, M Kristen Meier, M Keelin Winters (capt.), F Lindsay Taylor (Tiffany Cameron, 77), F Kristina Larsen (Liz Bogus, 56)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Haley Kopmeyer, D Bree Rowe^, M Joana Houplin^, M Lyndsey Patterson