Celia Jiménez Delgado’s first NWSL goal propelled Reign FC to victory against Portland Thorns FC 1-0 at Providence Park on Friday. The goal gave Reign FC its third straight road win, bringing them to 5-1-5 overall.
“Once again I’m very proud of this team,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Every game I walk away from, they make me fall in love with this group more and more. They’re tremendous. The heart, the intensity, the desire they have on this team is unbelievable. The three points are big, especially when you play Portland away. It’s never an easy environment, but we managed it well and I’m happy with the outcome.”
Jiménez Delgado scored in the 55th minute, seconds after scuffing a shot into a wall of waiting defenders. The defender, deployed by Andonovski as an attacking midfielder in the match, stepped up and hit a powerful shot with her right foot that rocketed past Portland keeper Britt Eckerstrom and into the net.
Jiménez Delgado, who earned Player of the Match honors for her strike, deflected the credit to her teammates.
“The team put in a great effort and knew how to manage all the energy and intensity to come out, play strong and win every battle,” Jiménez Delgado said. “It helped me a lot to get the opportunity to score that goal. It’s so special for me because this team and Vlatko trusted me when he drafted me. It was a great opportunity to give back to the team.”
Portland threw numbers forward as time dwindled, putting Reign FC under pressure in the dying minutes. Reign FC’s back line came up big, however, holding the Thorns to three shots over the final half hour.
Casey Murphy made another highlight reel save to keep her third straight clean sheet. Portland’s Caitlin Foord managed a close-range backheel in the 44th minute. Murphy, already on the ground, reached backward as the ball bounced toward the line and pushed it wide to deny the Thorns the opening goal.
After the match, Jiménez Delgado reflected on the importance of the three points against the club’s archrival.
“I think they’re huge,” Jiménez Delgado said. “Especially for the team right now. They’ve been giving incredible effort while the internationals were gone. They kept pushing, they kept playing hard, they kept winning to bring us to the position to be fighting for first place. Winning this game today in Portland against such a talented team, it’s a sign that we’re doing things right and it’s also going to give us the extra energy to keep fighting and keep improving for the games to come.”