PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC received a second-half goal from Tobin Heath in the 48th minute to secure a 1-0 win over the Houston Dash in front of 21,022 fans at Providence Park on Saturday night. The goal was Heath’s third of the season, while Lindsey Horan tallied her second assist of the campaign.
Portland (11-5-6, 39pts) clinched its fourth straight trip to the NWSL playoffs with its win against Houston. Thorns FC currently sit in third place in the NWSL standings with two matches remaining on its regular-season schedule. Thorns FC trail the Chicago Red Stars (41pts) in second place by two points, with a game in hand against the Red Stars entering their final two matches. Portland also holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Chicago.
With the win, Thorns FC improved to 3-0-0 against the Dash in 2019. Portland outscored Houston 8-1 in the three meetings between the two clubs. Thorns FC are now unbeaten in their last 10 matches (8-0-2) against the Dash, which is the team’s second-longest unbeaten streak against a single opponent. Portland is 11-2-3 all-time against Houston, including a mark of 7-1-0 at Providence Park.
Heath’s goal was her third of the 2019 campaign, marking back-to-back seasons with three or more goals for Heath in her NWSL career. The goal was the team’s 40th goal of the season, which ranks as the second-most goals in the NWSL. The 40-goal mark is tied for the most goals scored by the Thorns FC in a single season.
Starting the match on the front foot, Portland had a spell of possession after a corner kick in the 12th minute. Christine Sinclair attempted to fire a shot from inside the box that was blocked and landed for Midge Purce near the edge of the six-yard box. Purce turned and unleashed a shot that was blocked near the goal line.
With Portland continuing to push for the opening goal, the Dash cleared a long ball played into the box. Dagny Brynjarsdottir came surging forward, picked up the loose ball and sent a shot from the edge of the box that went just over the crossbar in the 31st minute.
Off a corner kick in the 33rd minute, Heath delivered a pinpoint ball to the center of the box. Sinclair redirected the ball with a header to the right post for Horan, who sent a diving header just past the post.
In the 36th minute, Meghan Klingenberg served a looping cross from the left edge of the box into the middle of the box. Brynjarsdottir was able to get a touch, sending her shot just wide of the left post.
Continuing on the attack, Horan played a ball into the box for Hayley Raso, who split a pair of defenders, cut the ball back onto her right foot and sent a shot from point-blank range, forcing a save by Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell in the 46th minute.
Portland took 1-0 lead in the 48th minute as Heath tallied her third goal of the season. Ellie Carpenter helped set up the goal with a throw-in to Horan running into the box. Horan slotted a perfect pass to Heath, who converted with a one-touch shot into the back of the net from near the penalty spot.
Thorns FC goalkeeper Adrianna Franch made a critical stop in the 54th minute. Kristie Mewis found space and dribbled down the left side of the box. Mewis attempted to hit a shot inside the near post, but Franch reacted quickly, pushing the shot wide of the target.
On the counter-attack in the 59th minute, Raso won the ball near midfield and played a pass to Sinclair, who sent a pass out wide to Purce running down the left side. Purce cut back toward the middle of the goal and delivered a curling strike from outside the box that went just past the right post.
In the 83rd minute, Klingenberg stole the ball in midfield and played a pass to Purce running down the middle of the field. Purce unleashed a powerful shot from distance that went just over the crossbar.
Portland Thorns FC (11-5-6, 39pts) vs. Houston Dash (7-11-4, 25pts)
Sept. 21, 2019 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half
Portland Thorns FC 0 1 1
Houston Dash 0 0 0
POR: Heath (Horan, Carpenter), 48
POR: GK Franch, D Carpenter (Reynolds, 90+4), D Sonnett, D Menges, D Klingenberg, M Brynjarsdottir, M Horan, M Sinclair ©, F Raso (Crnogorcevic, 79), F Purce (Foord, 87), F Heath
Substitutes Not Used: GK Eckerstrom, D Ball, M Ogle, F Charley
TOTAL SHOTS: 19 (Horan, 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players tied, 1); FOULS:13 (Horan, Brynjarsdottir, 3); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 10; SAVES: 2
HOU: GK Campbell, D Hanson, D Prisock, D Brooks, D Chapman, M Schmidt, M Huerta, M Nairn (Kizer, 70), Mewis (Privett, 87), M Ohai © (Fields, 57), F Daly
Substitutes Not Used: GK Henninger, D Romero, D Agnew, D Murray
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Eight players tied, 1); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Mewis, Nairn, 1); FOULS: 7 (Hanson, 2); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 2
Referee: Victor Rivas
Assistant Referees: Deleana Quan, Melissa Beck
4th Official: J.J. Blodgett
Weather: Partly cloudy, 65 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial