Portland Thorns FC are the 2016 NWSL Shield winners following a first-ever road win over Sky Blue FC Sunday night. A brace from midfielder Allie Long came on either side of a Lindsey Horan tally to secure the 3-1 victory and propel Thorns FC to the top of the table and clinch the number one playoff seed for the first time in club history.
Hoping to spoil the party, Sky Blue were quickest out the gates, opening the scoring in the 7th minute when Natasha Kai headed in from a Kelley O’Hara corner kick. Despite conceding early, Portland proceeded to dominate possession and create chances, though they had to wait until nearly halftime to equalize.
Long tallied her fifth goal of the season to equalize for Thorns FC, connecting with her back to goal on a header from a Tobin Heath free kick, very similar to the goal she scored against the Houston Dash back on Sept. 7. Heath also set an NWSL record with her 10th assist on the goal.
We've seen this before!@TobinHeath ➡️ @ALLIE_LONG! #BAONPDX #NJvPOR pic.twitter.com/ong8dtXIxT— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) September 25, 2016
The Thorns continued to dominate possession and opportunities in the second half and took a deserved lead in the 57th minute. Forward Nadia Nadim provided the cross and Horan provided the diving header to put Portland up 2-1. The goal marked Horan’s fifth of the season, her first in Portland and the NWSL and Nadim registered her third assist.
Flying in for the goal is @Lindseyhoran11! ✈️ #BAONPDX #NJvPOR pic.twitter.com/kqoj5yQYDj— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) September 26, 2016
Entering the match, Portland needed just a draw to take the Shield for the league’s best regular season record, but Long cushioned the result in the 84th after midfielder Hayley Raso put a low cross into the box that Long was able to collect, turn her defender and put into the back of the net for the 3-1 win.
A brace for @ALLIE_LONG! #BAONPDX #NJvPOR pic.twitter.com/2gIUZtXJeD— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) September 26, 2016
With the result, Thorns FC will enter the 2016 NWSL playoffs as the top seed and will host the Western New York Flash on Sunday, Oct. 2 at Providence Park. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. (Pacific) and will be broadcast on FS1.
Updates to follow...