PORTLAND, Ore. – Receiving goals from Tobin Heath and Christine Sinclair for a second consecutive match, Portland Thorns FC clinched an NWSL playoff berth with a 2-1 win over Sky Blue FC in front of 17,986 fans at Providence Park on Wednesday night. Sinclair tallied her ninth goal of the season, while Heath added her fifth goal of 2018 in the victory.
With the win, Portland (10-6-6, 36pts) clinched a berth in the NWSL playoffs for a third consecutive season. Notably, Thorns FC have qualified for the playoffs in five of their six seasons. Portland currently sits in third place in the standings, trailing Seattle Reign FC by four points with two matches remaining, including a match with Seattle on Sept. 7 at Providence Park to conclude the regular season.
Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last five home matches (3-0-2), outscoring opponents 12-5. During that span at home, Portland has scored multiple goals in all five matches. Overall, Thorns FC have won five of their last seven matches, while posting a mark of 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. Individually, Heath has two goals and three assists in her last five games, recording a point in four consecutive matches.
The 40 club
With her goal, Sinclair became the third player in NWSL history to score 40 career goals. Sinclair scored for a second consecutive match, registering her ninth goal of the season. Sinclair is tied for fourth in the NWSL in goals, establishing a new single-season career high.
Portland nearly opened the scoring in the second minute on the counter-attack. Sinclair played a well-timed pass in between a pair of Sky Blue FC defenders for Hayley Raso making a run into the box. Raso dribbled toward goal and fired a shot from close range that was blocked and went just wide of the left post.
Thorns FC claimed a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute as Sinclair converted from the penalty spot, tallying her ninth goal of the season. Lindsey Horan dribbled down the left side of the box and was fouled by Sky Blue FC’s Erika Skroski to earn a penalty kick for Portland.
Building through a spell of possession in the 35th minute, Heath received a pass from Meghan Klingenberg and quickly played a pass off to Sinclair running to the top of the box. Sinclair slipped a pass to Raso running down the right side of the box. Raso dribbled to the end line and delivered a shot from a tight angle near the right post, but Kailen Sheridan got a touch and parried the ball away.
Searching for a second goal deep in first-half stoppage time, Heath delivered a long-range strike from the left wing that deflected off a Sky Blue FC player. Raso came storming into the box from the right side and pounced on the deflection, firing a shot from point-blank range, but Sheridan came off her line to make the stop.
Portland doubled its lead in the 54th minute on a set piece after Raso earned a free kick near the edge of the box on the right wing. Heath lined up the kick and tucked a curling strike just inside the left post for her fifth goal of the season.
Sky Blue FC pulled a goal back in the 85th minute. Sarah Killion pounced on a bouncing ball in the box and delivered a left-footed strike into the right side of the goal.
Portland Thorns FC (10-6-6, 36pts) vs. Sky Blue FC (0-15-5, 5pts)
Aug. 22, 2018 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Sky Blue FC 0 1 1
Portland Thorns FC 1 1 2
POR: Sinclair (penalty kick), 13
POR: Heath, 54
NJ: Killion, 85
NJ: Tiernan (caution), 41
NJ: McCaskill (caution), 67
NJ: Johnson (caution), 75
NJ: Hoy (caution), 88
POR: GK Franch, D Carpenter, D Sonnett, D Menges, D Klingenberg, M Boureille, M Horan, M Raso (Purce, 75), M Sinclair ©, M Heath (Andressinha, 79), F Foord (Crnogorcevic, 59)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Eckerstrom, D Ball, F Lussi, F Weber
TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (Raso, Sinclair, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Horan, Raso, 2); FOULS: 11 (Horan, 3), OFFSIDES: 5; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 4
NJ: GK Sheridan, D Frisbie, D Skroski (Dorsey, 63), D Richardson, D Tiernan, M Rodriguez, M Killion, M Gibbons, F Lloyd ©, F Johnson (Hoy, 84), F McCaskil (Groom, 78)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Casey, D Freeman, D Pierre-Louis, M Meehan
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Lloyd, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Five players tied, 1); FOULS: 19 (Tiernan, 6); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 7
Referee: Mark Allatin
Assistant Referees: Adrienne McDonald, Sya Magee
4th Official: JJ Blodgett
Weather: Cloudy, 90 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial