Two goals in two minutes gave the Seattle Reign a 2-0 win over Portland Thorns FC Sunday night at Providence Park in Portland’s first preseason game ahead of the 2016 NWSL season. Havana Solaun opened the scoring for the visitors in the second half before Jessica Fishlock doubled the lead soon after. Both teams were playing their first of three games in the preseason tournament also featuring Oregon State University and the Houston Dash.
Solaun took advantage of time and space in the box to slot a shot past a diving Michelle Betos in the 75th minute after a scoreless first half gave way to a tepid opening to the second half. Two minutes later, Jessica Fishlock rose above Allie Long to head a corner kick back across goal and into the side netting.
Both teams came out with strong starting lineups in front of 5,133 fans and the action belied the preseason nature of the preseason contest. Portland came out quickly, putting pressure on the Reign defense with the interchange of Christine Sinclair and Dagny Brynjarsdottir. The two nearly combined in the first ten minutes with Seattle just managing to keep Brynjarsdottir from getting a shot off inside the box from Sinclair’s set up.
Portland’s best chance of the match came in 26th minute. Meghan Klingenberg just managed to keep a ball in play on the Seattle endline and chipped in a cross that Sinclair rose and put off the crossbar with Hope Solo left stranded.
Seattle patiently built on possession as the half wore on with two chances going begging. Nadia Nadim cleared a Reign header off the goal line inside 10 minutes before Merritt Mathias poked a shot wide with just Betos to beat in the 33rd minute.
Despite the loss, head coach Mark Parsons felt optimistic about the team’s progress to this point.
"It’s painful to lose to Seattle," Parsons said after the match. "While my expectation and standards are very high, I don’t think I could have pictured it looking as good and as clean as it did in the first 20-25 minutes."
"I thought we physically competed superbly," Parsons noted.
Klingenberg recognizes there are a lot of new pieces, but early signs are positive moving forward.
"It’s pretty cool when you put like-minded players with like-minded styles on the same pitch. You can kind of see how well and how much potential there is going to be for the season," Klingberg said. "The sky’s the limit."
Defender Emily Sonnett, midfielder Lindsey Horan, along with Klingenberg, Nadim and Brynjarsdottir all made their first starts for the Thorns, while defender Katherine Reynolds made her first appearance from the bench. Seattle out-shot Portland 14-8, though Solo was not called on to make a save. Both teams earned seven corners apiece.
Portland hosts Oregon State Wednesday night in their second preseason match before taking on the Houston Dash on Saturday. Kick offs are 7:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. respectively.
Head Coach Mark Parsons
Defender Meghan Klingenberg
Note: This video picks up about a minute into the interview due to technical difficulties.