PORTLAND, Ore. – Closing out the 2017 regular season, Portland Thorns FC extended their unbeaten streak to sixth straight games, posting a 3-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars before a sellout crowd of 21,144 fans at Providence Park on Saturday afternoon. The sellout was the fourth all-time in the club’s history and helped establish a new NWSL attendance record, with the club averaging 17,653 fans per game this season.
With the win, Thorns FC (14-5-5, 47pts) finished their 2017 home schedule with a record of 10-1-1, establishing a new single-season record for home wins at Providence Park, which stands as the best home record in the NWSL this season. In addition, the win extended Portland’s home winning streak to seven games.
Portland will now play host to an NWSL semifinal match for a second consecutive season, squaring off against either Chicago or the Orlando Pride on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Providence Park. Thorns FC will take on the Pride with an Orlando win on the road against North Carolina later today, but an Orlando draw or loss will result in a home playoff match against the Red Stars.
The home playoff match will be broadcast on Lifetime beginning at 12:30 p.m. (Pacific). Tickets for the Thorns FC home playoff match are on sale now and can be purchased online here or by calling (888) 736-6849. Additionally, tickets are available at the Providence Park box office, which is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Sunday and Monday).
In their regular-season finale, Thorns FC grabbed an early lead by scoring two goals in the opening 15 minutes as forwards Hayley Raso and Ashleigh Sykes tallied goals, while forward Nadia Nadim converted from the penalty spot late in the match.
Pressing early in the contest, Raso intercepted a pass out of the back by Chicago goalkeeper Michele Dalton in the second minute and delivered a one-touch shot into the back of the net for her sixth goal of the season to give Portland an early 1-0 lead.
Remaining on the front foot, Thorns FC earned a free kick just outside the box near the end line in the 13th minute. Defender Meghan Klingenberg served in a driven ball towards the penalty spot that took a deflection off midfielder Amandine Henry’s back and landed at the feet of Raso, who sent a shot from close range just wide of the right post.
Less than a minute later, Portland doubled its lead when forward Christine Sinclair dribbled down the right side, playing a cross into the box towards Sykes. A Chicago defender cut out the cross with a header, but Sykes quickly pounced, popping the ball up to herself with her knee before finishing into the right corner with an outside-of-the-foot volley for her first goal of the season.
Outshooting Chicago 14-2 in the first half, and 23-7 in the match, Thorns FC created several additional goal-scoring opportunities in the opening 45 minutes. Nadim settled the ball off a throw in near the left sideline and dribbled past two Chicago players, firing a powerful strike from the edge of the area that bounced just wide of the left post. In first-half stoppage time, Nadim came close again, connecting with a diagonal cross played to the back post from the right wing by Raso as Nadim’s header back towards the near post skipped inches wide of the goal.
Midfielders Tobin Heath, Allie Long and Dagny Brynjarsdottir all entered the match to begin the second half and made an immediate impact. Long became the first player in club history to reach 100 games played as well as the seventh player in league history and just the third to accomplish the milestone with the same team. For Heath, it marked her second appearance of the season and her 2017 home debut.
In the 57th minute, defender Emily Menges found Brynjarsdottir running into space down the left side, delivering a well-timed pass to Brynjarsdottir, who hit a one-time cross for Heath running into the box. Heath’s close-range attempt forced a Chicago player into making a diving block before the ball was cleared out of the box.
Chicago (11-7-6, 39pts) pulled a goal back late through second-half substitute Sofia Huerta tallied in the 71st minute, but Portland answered as Long earned a penalty kick for Thorns FC in the 82nd minute. Searching for an additional goal, Sykes served in a cross from the right side for Long, who was running towards the back post and on Long’s attempt to head the ball she was fouled by Huerta, earning Portland a penalty kick. Nadim stepped to the spot and sent Dalton the wrong way, tallying her sixth goal of the season.
- Thorns FC played in front of their first sellout crowd of the 2017 season (21,144) and the fourth sellout overall in team history.
- Portland has at least one sellout in each of its last four seasons, including its last three home regular-season finales.
- In 12 home matches this season, Portland set a new NWSL record for total (211,830) and average (17,653) attendance in the team’s fifth season.
- Midfielder Allie Long made her 100th career appearance for the club becoming the seventh player in league history to reach this milestone. Additionally, Long is just the third player to accomplish this feat with the same team.
- Forward Hayley Raso was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year and was presented her award by the Rose City Riveters postgame.
- Raso scored her sixth goal of the season in the match. The goal was her sixth goal in the team’s last 13 matches.
- Portland has scored 20 goals in the first half of matches in 2017, which is the second-most in the league.
- Thorns FC have scored nine goals in the first 15 minutes this season, which is the most in the NWSL.
- Forward Ashleigh Sykes scored her first career NWSL goal. Sykes is one of five Thorns FC players to score their first NWSL goal this season.
- Sykes is the 10th player to tally a goal for Thorns FC this season.
- Midfielder Tobin Heath made her second appearance of the season, and her 2017 home debut in the match.
- Portland has won seven straight home matches, outscoring opponents 17-3 during that stretch.
- Thorns FC improved to 7-1-6 all-time against Chicago, including a mark of 4-1-2 at Providence Park.
Portland Thorns FC (14-5-5, 47pts) vs. Chicago Red Stars (11-7-6, 39pts)
Sept. 30, 2017 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Chicago Red Stars 0 1
Portland Thorns FC 2 1 3
POR: Raso, 2
POR: Sykes, 13
CHI: Huerta, 71
POR: Nadim, 83
CHI: Gilliland (caution), 25
CHI: Kaskie (caution), 33
POR: Henry (caution), 42
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Franch, D Reynolds, D Sonnett, D Menges, D Klingenberg (Brynjarsdottir, 46), M Henry (Long, 46), M Horan, M Sinclair ©, F Sykes, F Raso (Heath, 46), F Nadim
Substitutes Not Used: GK Eckerstrom, D Boureille, F Weber, F Jordan
TOTAL SHOTS: 23 (Nadim, 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Sinclair, 2); FOULS: 13 (Three players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 1
CHI: GK Dalton, D Gorden, D Naughton, D Johnson (Colaprico, 21), D Gilliland, M Mautz, M Kaskie, M DiBernardo © (Press, 73), M Comeau, F Green (Huerta, 59), F McCaffrey
Substitutes Not Used: GK Naeher, D Short, M Ertz, F Hoy
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (DiBernardo, Press, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Huerta, Press, 1); FOULS: 12 (Gilliland, Kaskie, 4); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 5
Referee: Elvis Osmanovic
Assistant Referees: Maggie Short, Shane Kennard
4th Official: Jason Perlewitz
Weather: Partly cloudy, 61 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.