WASHINGTON, D.C. – Portland Thorns FC earned a 1-0 shutout win over the Washington Spirit at Audi Field on Saturday night, extending their current unbeaten run to four games and climbing to within two points of second place in the NWSL with one game remaining in the regular season. Midfielder Tobin Heath tallied her sixth goal of the season by scoring for a third straight game, while midfielder Hayley Raso tallied her second assist of 2018.
With the win, Thorns FC (11-6-6, 39pts) are now in position to secure home-field advantage in the 2018 NWSL playoffs in their final regular-season game. Portland plays host to Seattle Reign FC, which it currently trails by two points for second place in the standings, on Sept. 7 at Providence Park, and with a win would earn the second seed in the NWSL playoffs and a home semifinal match.
Portland has registered three wins in its last four road matches. With the win, Thorns FC recorded their sixth win on the road in 2018, which ranks as the second-most road wins in the NWSL this season. In addition, Portland’s six road wins equals the mark for the most road wins in a single season in club history. Thorns FC have recorded 14 road wins since 2016, which ranks as the second-most in the league during that span.
Heath in form
Heath scored her sixth goal of the season as she opened the scoring for Portland in the 15th minute. It marked her third consecutive game with a goal. In addition, it was also her fifth straight match with a point (3g, 3a). She has tallied a goal or an assist in six of the last seven matches in which she has appeared for Thorns FC.
Thorns FC improved to 2-0-1 on the season against Washington, recording two shutouts in two road matches against the Spirit. Portland now leads the all-time series with a mark of 9-2-5, including a record of 4-2-2 in road matches against the Spirit. In addition, Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last five matches (4-0-1) against Washington.
Holding a 15-9 shot advantage in the match, Thorns FC created a number of threatening chances. In the 12th minute, a long-range shot from Heath was saved by Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe.
Thorns FC took a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute after a give-and-go between forward Christine Sinclair and Raso freed the Australian international into space down the right flank. After Raso’s cross was chested down by Heath at the top of the box, the U.S. international avoided a challenge from defender Taylor Smith before firing her left-footed shot from the left edge of the six-yard box past Bledsoe into the roof of the net.
Following Heath’s forced turnover on a Washington player just outside the penalty area, Sinclair’s follow-up shot missed over the corner of the post in the 17th minute. Five minutes later, a long-range effort from Heath was fired over the crossbar.
In the 25th minute, Raso picked out a pass to Heath on the right edge of the penalty area, but her shot was parried away by Bledsoe at her near post. One minute later, Sinclair’s shot from outside the box was caught by Bledsoe. Just before halftime, midfielder Celeste Boureille’s shot from just outside the 18-yard box was blasted over the crossbar in the 44th minute.
Continuing to apply pressure at the start of the second half, Heath played a quick pass to the edge of the six-yard box to Ana Crnogorcevic, whose one-timed pass to midfielder Lindsey Horan was struck over the crossbar in the 49th minute. Four minutes later, Heath’s bending shot from just outside the penalty area forced Bledsoe into a save at the far post.
In the 61st minute, Sinclair delivered a cross from the left wing to Horan, whose leaping header towards the center of goal was stopped by Bledsoe. Four minutes later, Heath avoided a Spirit defender’s challenge down the left flank and played second-half substitute Caitlin Foord into space. Foord then delivered a cross at the near post to Crnogorcevic, whose header was saved at point-blank-range in the 66th minute.
Horan, who finished the match with three chances created, delivered a long cross from the left wing that picked out Crnogorcevic, but her header missed to the right of the post in the 74th minute.
Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch earned her third shutout of 2018, finishing the match with two saves.
- Portland recorded its sixth road win of the season, which is tied for the most road wins in a single season in club history.
- With the win, Thorns FC recorded their 14th road since 2016 – the second most road wins of any team during that span.
- Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last four matches overall (3-0-1).
- Heath has scored in three consecutive matches, while tallying a point in five straight matches (3g, 3a).
- Portland has scored seven goal in the first 15 minutes of matches this season, which ranks first in the NWSL.
- Thorns FC’s 22 first-half goals are the most by any team in the league in 2018.
- Raso registered her second assist of the season. Raso has recorded two assists in each of her last three seasons.
- Heath is one of four players (Sinclair, Megan Rapinoe, Jessica McDonald) in the NWSL with at least six goals and six assists in 2018.
- Portland registered its fifth shutout of the season. Three of its five shutouts have come on the road, including two against Washington.
- Thorns FC improved 9-2-5 all-time against the Spirit, including a mark of 4-2-2 on the road.
- Portland scored its 37th goal of the season in the match, which is tied for the second-most in a single season in team history.
Following a league-wide break for international matches, Thorns FC conclude the regular season at home against Seattle Reign FC on Friday, Sept. 7, at Providence Park. The Sept. 7 match is the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime at 7:30 p.m. (Pacific).
Portland Thorns FC (11-6-6, 39pts) vs. Washington Spirit (2-17-4, 10pts)
Aug. 25, 2018 – Audi Field (Washington D.C.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland Thorns FC 1 0 1
Washington Spirit 0 0 0
POR: Heath (Raso), 15
WSH: Church (caution), 40
POR: GK Franch, D Carpenter, D Sonnett, D Menges, D Purce, M Boureille, M Horan, M Raso (Foord, 60), M Sinclair ©, M Heath (Lussi, 90+2), F Crnogorcevic (Andressinha, 80)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Eckerstrom, D Ball, F Weber
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Heath, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Heath, 3); FOULS: 12 (Five players tied, 2), OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2
WSH: GK Bledsoe, D Smith, D Church, D Johnson, D Eubanks, M Sullivan, M Dougherty Howard, M Pugh (Ship, 81), M Solaun (Dydasco, 64), M Lavelle (Lohman, 77), F Hatch
Substitutes Not Used: GK Haracic, F Farquharson
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Hatch, Sullivan, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Lavelle, Sullivan, 1); FOULS: 9 (Nine players tied, 1); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 4
Referee: Katja Koroleva
Assistant Referees: Ian McKay, Jeffrey Swartzel
4th Official: Jordan Gray
Weather: Partly cloudy, 76 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial