For the first time in club history, Portland Thorns FC will host an NWSL playoff match after a thrilling 3-2 win over the Western New York Flash in front of a sold out crowd Sunday night at Providence Park. Portland is guaranteed to finish no lower than second in the league, though still have a shot at the regular-season title going into the final week of games.
Thorns FC, which needed just a point to secure that home playoff game, took the lead in the 27th minute against the run of play when Nadia Nadim broke into the box before being fouled by Jaelene Hinkle for a penalty kick. Nadim stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the lower left corner for her ninth goal of the season.
Portland would take a 2-0 lead into halftime after Christine Sinclair scored her third goal in three matches when the Flash scuffed a clearance straight to her. After cutting onto her left foot, Sinclair placed the ball into the back of the net off the left post in the 37th minute.
The Thorns would extend their lead to 3-0 when Dagny Brynjarsdottir scored just two minutes after coming on as a second half substitute. A one-touch layoff from Tobin Heath set Brynjarsdottir free in the box to finish high over a sliding Sabrina D’Angelo. The goal is Brynjarsdottir’s fifth of the season and Heath notched her league-leading ninth assist. The goal would prove vital as the Flash mounted a late comeback, scoring two goals in three minutes.
Former Thorn Jessica McDonald rose to nod home a deep cross in the 77th minute before Lynn Williams tallied her tenth goal of the season with a low finish to the far post in the 80th minute. However, the damage was already done and the Thorns extended Western New York’s winless streak to seven games, closing out the 2-3 win.
With the sellout, Portland set a new NWSL record for home attendance in a single season with 169,449 fans coming to Providence Park in 2016. The club also set a new record for average attendance at 16,945 fans per game.
Though the NWSL Championship is set for October 9th, the semifinal matches have not been set. Tickets for the the Thorns semifinal go on sale on September 15th. Meanwhile, Portland closes out their 2016 regular season against Sky Blue on Sunday, September 25. The Thorns still have a chance at first place as they are currently just one point off the Washington Spirit.
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