Thorns FC @ Seattle Reign Match Story: Brace to the Finish

USA TODAY Sports

Sinc scores equalizer and game-winner as Portland tops Seattle

In some ways, it ended the way it started.

You'll recall that the Thorns' very first match of the season, way back on April 13, started with the wrong kind of bang, when FC Kansas City's Renae Cuellar shocked the Thorns with a goal a mere three minutes into the match.

On Saturday, four months and 21 games later, the Thorns played their final regular-season game against the Seattle Reign in front of 3,855 at Starfire Sports Complex, and a nifty bit of dramaturgical symmetry unfolded. The opening whistle had barely faded when Seattle's Megan Rapinoe gathered a pass from Lauren Barnes, carried, and sliced a shot to the far post, past the outstretched leg of Thorns keeper Karina LeBlanc. Score: 1-0, Reign. Three minutes in.

The past was present.

I guess technically that means the ending started the way the start started, but no matter how you parse it, what's important here is that some of the deja vu motifs that have plagued the Thorns all season made themselves known in this match: Portland's opponent dictated the run of play. Portland displayed some strange defensive derps. Portland probably should have lost this game.

But there is a force in the universe that is greater and more established than the patterns of a young team finishing off its inaugural regular season, and that force is Christine Sinclair.

As the Thorns allowed 18 shots from the Reign  --12 from Rapinoe alone-- and struggled to get the ball past the midfield line, Sinclair shrugged her mighty shoulders and scored a brace that singlehandedly provided Portland a come-from-behind 2-1 win over their Cascadia derby rivals.

The buzz from Rapinoe's goal had barely settled when Sinc equalized at 8'.  Allie Long sent a beautiful ball straight through the latter half of Seattle's side of the field, and Sinclair did the rest, outpacing the Reign backline, then dancing around Reign keeper Hope Solo, who had come about 18 yards off her line, with a series of quick touches. Sinclair finished with a confident strike into the abandoned net.

"Allie played a tremendous ball through, and I was able to find that awkward space behind their back line," Sinclair said after the match (just minutes after Seattle coach Laura Harvey walked by and, providing an apt metaphor for futility, kicked a pen in frustration). "Hope tried to come out for it and I just got to the ball a little bit before her."

You wouldn't think that a woman carrying an entire team on her back could move quite so nimbly, but Sinclair danced her way to the go-ahead goal at 83', courtesy of a nice looping pass from Tiffany Weimer, who got the start in place of the still injured Alex Morgan. "Weimer played a long diagonal over the top it was sort of the opposite [of the first goal] --Hope decided to stay in," Sinclair said. "The ball bounced perfectly for me and I found the far post." The late tally gave the Thorns a 2-1 lead, which held despite a flurry of desperate shots from the Reign.

Technically, this game had no playoff implications for the Thorns --they already knew their seeding by gametime-- but boy did this team need a three-point confidence booster going into the semifinal. Had the Thorns lost, they would have stumbled into the postseason on a four-game winless slide. In many ways, this match was as must-win as a "meaningless" game can be.

Which is why it was all the more unsettling to watch Rapinoe's opening goal. Although the U.S. international appeared to be offside (judging from her demeanor, Thorns head coach Cindy Parlow Cone certainly thought so), she still made the Thorns pay for giving her room to maneuver when Barnes delivered the pass.

"I think they were playing quite a high line and so I just used my wheels and got on the end of it," Rapinoe said post-game.

Inexplicably, the Thorns appeared content to allow Rapinoe a broad circumference of leeway the entire match. "Pretty much the whole game there was a lot of space in behind and they sort of gave me a lot," Rapinoe said with her signature grin. "Which was nice."

Nice for her, maybe, but not so much for a team that needs to batten down the hatches before its playoff game. Of the 12 shots Rapinoe took, four were on goal (for half of Seattle's total SOG), and none was as scary as the potential equalizer, a rocket of a shot she took at 87' that fortunately caromed off the near post. A few seconds later, Christine Nairn put LeBlanc to work after ripping a shot hard and high. LeBlanc managed to shove it above the crossbar for a corner kick that came to naught. As the Reign continued to pepper the stalwart keeper, it seemed almost inevitable that Seattle would manage a final desperate goal.

But Portland's defense held, and that's where the story of the Thorns' first game and this final one diverge somewhat, and yet echo each other. Yes, the Thorns pulled out a win in this match as opposed to the April 13 draw, but let's not forget that Sinclair saved our bacon in that very first match, too, converting a late, game-tying PK like it was no big deal.

In this match, she did even more. In this match, Sinclair scooped up the last three points of the regular season, threw them onto the Thorns' bus, and pointed that sucker southward down I-5.

Hopefully, there's enough gas in the tank to bring back a win from Kansas City, too.

GOALS

1

2

F

Portland (11-6-5)

1

1

2

Seattle (5-14-3)

1

0

1

SCORING SUMMARY

Goal

Time

Team

GoalScorer

Assists

Note

1

3

Seattle

Megan Rapinoe

2

8

Portland

Christine Sinclair

Allie Long

3

83

Portland

Christine Sinclair

Tiffany Weimer

CAUTIONS AND EJECTIONS

Time

Team

##

Player

Card

Reason

70

Portland

7

Nikki Marshall

Yellow Card

Reckless Foul

78

Portland

6

Meleana Shim

Yellow Card

Reckless Foul

SUBSTITUTIONS

Time            Team                                                         OUT                                        IN
51            Portland                               #2 Marian Dougherty               #15 Casey Ramirez
64            Seattle                                #20 Emily Van Egmond             #5 Liz Bogus
73            Portland                               #5 Kathryn Williamson #24 Tina Ellertson
76            Seattle                                #9 Stephanie Cox #23 Renae Cuellar
82            Portland                               #9 Danielle Foxhoven #20 Courtney Wetzel
88            Seattle                                #7 Elli Reed                            #25 Kiersten Dallstream

SHOTS

1

2

F

Portland

6

6

12

Seattle

6

12

18

SHOTS ON GOAL

1

2

F

Portland

3

3

6

Seattle

3

5

8

SAVES

1

2

F

Portland

2

5

7

Seattle

2

2

4

CORNER KICKS

1

2

F

Portland

4

0

4

Seattle

1

5

6

OFFSIDES

1

2

F

Portland

0

0

0

Seattle

1

2

3

FOULS

1

2

F

Portland

5

6

11

Seattle

7

0

7

Officials: 
Referee:
Christina Unkel

Asst. Referee: Adrienne McDonald; Ronald Lagraff
Fourth Official: Farhad Dadkho

Attendance: 3855

Portland Player Stats

##

1

Name(*forstarters)

Karina LeBlanc*

Min

90

G

0

A

0

Sh

0

SOG

0

YC

0

RC

0

CK

0

Off

0

FC

0

FS

0

12

Christine Sinclair*

90

2

0

3

3

0

0

0

0

1

1

10

Allie Long*

90

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

6

Meleana Shim*

90

0

0

1

0

1

0

0

0

1

2

7

Nikki Marshall*

90

0

0

2

1

1

0

0

0

2

0

19

Tiffany Weimer*

90

0

1

2

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

8

Angie Kerr*

90

0

0

2

2

0

0

4

0

0

0

16

Rachel Buehler*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

9

Danielle Foxhoven*

82

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

5

Kathryn Williamson*

73

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

Marian Dougherty*

51

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

15

Casey Ramirez

39

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

24

Tina Ellertson

17

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

20

Courtney Wetzel

8

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

TEAM TOTAL 990        2        2        12          6       2          0      4       0        11    5

Portland Goalkeeper Stats

##  Name(*forstarters)

Min

GA

Sh

SOG

Sv

D

1      Karina LeBlanc*

90

1

18

8

7

W

TEAM TOTAL

90

1

18

8

7



Seattle Player Stats

##

1

Name(*forstarters)

Hope Solo*

Min

90

G

0

A

0

Sh

0

SOG

0

YC

0

RC

0

CK

0

Off

0

FC

0

FS

0

10

Jessica Fishlock*

90

0

0

4

2

0

0

0

0

1

2

4

Kate Deines*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

15

Megan Rapinoe*

90

1

0

12

4

0

0

6

1

2

3

6

Kaylyn Kyle*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

Lauren Barnes*

90

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

19

Christine Nairn*

90

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

3

11

Keelin Winters*

90

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

7

Elli Reed*

88

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

9

Stephanie Cox*

76

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

20

Emily Van Egmond*

64

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

1

1

5

Liz Bogus

26

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

23

Renae Cuellar

14

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

25

Kiersten Dallstream

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

TEAM TOTAL

990

1

0

18

8

0

0

6

3

7

11

Seattle Goalkeeper Stats

##  Name(*forstarters)

Min

GA

Sh

SOG

Sv

D

1      Hope Solo*

90

2

12

6

4

L

TEAM TOTAL

90

2

12

6

4

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Stumptown Footy

You must be a member of Stumptown Footy to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Stumptown Footy. You should read them.

Join Stumptown Footy

You must be a member of Stumptown Footy to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Stumptown Footy. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker