Three vital points slipped away from Portland Thorns FC in a 1-0 road loss to Sky Blue FC Saturday night in front of 5,547 fans. Christine Sinclair and Tobin Heath hit the woodwork, while Alex Morgan missed an 89th minute penalty in the match.
Sky Blue scored the deciding goal in the 19th minute. U.S. Women’s National Team star Kelly O’Hara stole the ball off Alyssa Kleiner in the Thorns box before passing to Nadia Nadim for the finish. Kleiner made her first professional start for Portland after being signed to a contract earlier this week. Sky Blue has now won two-straight home matches against the Thorns by 1-0 scorelines, including their last meeting back on July 11. Portland has never beaten Sky Blue at Yurcak Field in four attempts.
Morgan came on as a second-half substitute, making her first Thorns appearance since before the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The forward stepped up to take a penalty in the 89th minute after Sinclair was brought down in the box, but goalkeeper Brittany Cameron dove to her right to make the first save and then recovered to deny Morgan on the rebound.
Sinclair nearly leveled for Portland in the 67th minute, hitting the crossbar after her first shot was saved by Cameron. Sinclair then earned the late penalty, but was carried off the field and did not return.
Portland still hold fifth place in the NWSL, but could be six points away from a playoff spot by the end of the night. The Thorns are in danger of missing the NWSL playoffs for the first time in their history and a chance at lifting the league title in their home stadium after the NWSL announced this week that Providence Park would host the 2015 NWSL Championship match. Portland still have a chance of reaching the postseason, but will be eliminated if Kansas City beats Boston tonight and both the Washington Spirit and the Chicago Red Stars earn a single point from their remaining matches. The Spirit take on Kansas City Thursday, while Chicago hosts the Western New York Flash tomorrow. Portland return to the Rose City to host the Spirit in their final home match of the regular season next Sunday, Aug. 30 before traveling to the Flash on Friday, Sept. 4.
Updates to follow....