Reign FC

Reign FC Falls 3–1 to Thorns at Providence Park

Reign FC
Reign FC Falls 3–1 to Thorns at Providence Park

In the regular-season finale for both teams, with a home playoff match on the line, Seattle Reign FC (11–4–8, 41 points) lost 3–1 on the road to Portland Thorns FC (12–6–6, 42 points). The loss means Seattle has finished third in the NWSL table and will return to Portland to play the Thorns in the NWSL semifinal next weekend. Jess Fishlock scored the lone goal for Reign FC before Portland stormed back with three unanswered goals.

Fishlock, a veteran of the Seattle-Portland rivalry, silenced the Thorns’ crowd early in the match. In the 4th minute the Reign FC midfielder beat Adrianna Franch with a shot from the top of the box to the upper corner of the goal, adding another timeless highlight to the Cascadia rivalry and giving Seattle a quick 1–0 advantage. Elizabeth Addo picked up her first assist of the season on the goal.

After a brief buildup down the wing in the 13th minute, Portland defender Meghan Klingenberg swirled a cross into the box. Rumi Utsugi was there to head it in the air for Seattle, allowing goalkeeper Lydia Williams to easily snag the ball out of mid-air. The Thorns’ next chance, coming off a counter attack, ended abruptly. After Reign FC forward Jodie Taylor charged her way into the box, a pair of Portland defenders won possession. Lindsey Horan led Portland’s break the other way. When Horan tried feeding teammate Midge Purce in the final third, the pass skipped too far and out of play.

In the 18th minute, Tobin Heath had the ball at her feet from striking distance. With the Reign FC defense swarming to her, Heath pushed a low cross into a dangerous spot. Seattle’s Lauren Barnes slid in heroically to keep the ball from reaching Caitlin Foord before the Thorns’ forward could get a touch on it.

Williams was forced to make an athletic save in the 21st minute. With the ball heading toward Seattle’s back post, Steph Catley slid to get her boot on the ball, hoping to push it wide of the post. Instead, Catley re-directed it goalward. Williams dove to her left to get a hand on it just before the ball could sneak across the goal line.

The 24th minute brought another scare for the Seattle defense. Ellie Carpenter stormed down the pitch and blasted a shot from outside the box. Her shot attempt seemed to surprise everyone, as it sailed up and over the Reign FC defense. Williams could only watch as the ball clanked off the crossbar, denying Portland an equalizer. Megan Oyster provided a stellar tackle minutes later to trim the Thorns’ next trip forward.

Fishlock nearly had her second spectacular goal in the 29th minute. Taking the ball from her own territory into shooting position, she launched from deep. While Franch was off her line, the shot went wide of the frame.

Portland would soon get its first goal of the night. Coming forward to play a deflection, Lindsey Horan roped a powerful shot from the top of the box, perfectly placed to beat Williams. When the ball hit the net, the score was tied 1–1 in the 30th minute. The goal gave Horan 12 on the season.

A Steph Catley corner kick signaled the last Seattle chance of the half. As her service was cleared away, the referee’s whistle brought the end of the half. For the second consecutive Seattle-Portland match, the bitter rivals were tied after 45 minutes. First half possession stats showed the Thorns owning the ball for 61.4% of the action.

The Thorns’ second goal of the night came early in the second half. After a turnover in the Reign FC midfield, Heath gathered the ball with a head of steam. She ripped a shot into the top corner of the net, giving her team a 2–1 lead in the 49th minute. In addition to putting Portland ahead, the goal was also Heath’s seventh of the season.

Reign FC earned a free kick in the 57th minute when Jasmyne Spencer was fouled by Celeste Boureille. This led to an Utsugi free kick from just outside the top corner of the penalty area. Utsugi’s delivery was dropped in with great texture, but Franch got her gloves to it before any Reign FC players could connect for a header. The Portland keeper’s punch ended Seattle’s chance and started a wave of opportunities for the home team.

Portland was awarded back-to-back corner kicks in the 64th minute. Fishlock rose to head the ball away on the first kick, resulting in another corner. The second also ended harmlessly for Seattle, as their opponent could not muster a shot on goal. The pair of corners came after Lindsey Horan and Elizabeth Addo were both given cautionary yellow cards. These were the first bookings of the match for both sides.

Seattle made the first substitution of the evening in the 69th minute. Vlatko Andonovski called on Theresa Nielsen to replace Christen Westphal at the right back position. Just five minutes later, Nielsen committed a foul on Heath. Bev Yanez came in for Utsugi in the 75th, marking the first time Yanez had played since suffering a foot injury on July 21.

A Heath free kick into the box in the 77th minute found Caitlin Foord. The scoring prospect ended with Williams making a diving save to stop Foord’s left-footed try. Williams was there again to block Foord’s shot in the 82nd minute, tapping it over the bar to give Portland a crucial corner kick. Standing at the flag, Heath sent an in-swinging ball toward a sea of bodies. Horan got her head to it, hitting just enough of the ball to get it to the back post. The well-placed header evaded everyone, trickling into the net to make the score 3–1 in favor of the Thorns.

Jaycie Johnson relieved Addo in the last change of the night for Seattle. This was Johnson’s third appearance of the year after coming off the D45 list for a knee injury, and the first time she’s played on the road.

The loss places Seattle third in the final NWSL regular-season standings, finishing behind Portland and the shield-winning North Carolina Courage. Reign FC will be back at Providence Park on Saturday, September 15 for the NWSL semifinal match. Fans can watch the game on Lifetime Network, with kick off at 12:00 p.m. PT.