The Portland Thorns came away empty-handed from Memorial Stadium after a goal from Jodie Taylor in the 89th minute gave the Seattle Reign the three points in their second encounter of the season.
Hayley Raso started her first game of the year, while Tobin Heath and Emily Menges failed to make the matchday squad. Andressinha continued in Heath’s usual free attacking midfield role while Celeste Boureille retained her spot in defensive midfield. Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic started in more of a winger role, running the right side of the field with Ellie Carpenter, while Raso played as the striker.
Both teams started the match at top speed, closing down quickly and looking to win loose balls high up the field, but broadly failing to get and thing into either box. The Reign had the best of the early chances, squandering two decent looks from crosses both coming from Seattle’s right wing. Jodie Taylor turned and shot from an Addo cross in the 9th minute but fired just wide. Meghan Rapinoe was being marked tightly by Ellie Carpenter, who was looking to prevent her driving into the box. Rapinoe shook Carpenter for a half second at the top of the box to get a shot on target in the 16th minute, but it was an easy save for Franch.
The Thorns attack, meanwhile, struggled to get out of midfield. Portland wasn’t pushing many numbers forward when they had the ball at their feet, either hitting long balls up to Crnogorcevic on the wing or making Raso chase balls over the top. The first real Thorns chance came off a counterattack in the 28th minute. Andressinha drove the ball up the field and played Klingenberg in, whose cross found Raso unmarked at the back post. Raso, closing in at top speed, couldn’t get her header on target. Bev Yanez very nearly found the net on the other end just a few minutes later but could only pass to Franch from close range.
After a flat start, the Thorns offense started to get some traction, with Raso and Klingenberg putting in dangerous crosses from either side that no one could really get on the other end of. Rapinoe continued to be dangerous with the ball at her feet, putting in good crosses across the face of goal Franch made another point blank save in the 38th minute: Bev Yanez made a diving header to get on the end of a Theresa Nielsen cross from only a few feet out but Franch was able to make a quick reaction save to keep the game tied at 0-0.
The Thorns nearly had the opener in the 43rd minute: Crnogorcevic sent a lovely header into the back of Lydia Williams’ net from a deep set piece from Klingenberg but was called back for being offside. Williams tried to start a counterattack in the confusion over the goal, but the Thorns were able to recover quickly to snuff out any danger.
The Thorns came out guns blazing from halftime: Hayley Raso immediately made a run into the box from a long ball and forced Seattle to concede a throw-in. Ellie Carpenter’s subsequent long throw found its way all the way through the crowd of defenders to land at Raso’s feet, but she fired over the bar from close range.
Carpenter long throws proved to be the Thorns’ most effective offensive weapon. In the 63rd minute, a chuck down the sideline sent Lindsay Horan free down the right wing. Horan sent in a cross flashing across the face of goal and Raso found herself with a free header but couldn’t put it on frame. That was to be Raso’s last contribution of the match, as she came off for Mallory Weber.
Andressinha increasingly got a rough treatment by the Reign, eventually limping off the field after a particularly tough challenge in the 72nd minute. Midge Purce came on for her to see her first minutes since the international break but the team overall lost a little bit of coherence without the extra midfielder on the field. The Reign had a few great opportunities in a row, with the best coming from a Rapinoe cross up to Jodie Taylor who caught a volley on the turn just a few feet from goal only to be denied by an excellent intervention from Katherine Reynolds.
After the change, the Thorns had resorted to defending deep and struggled to put attacks together. They nearly managed to see it through to 90 minutes: AD Franch came up with a great save in the 86th minute after a Rapinoe shot looked like it was travelling into the top of the net. The Thorns just couldn’t hold on though: in the 89th minute, Rapinoe drove down the left wing into the box and sent her cross in low instead of high as she had been doing, and the ball snuck through the Thorns defense and found its way to the feet of Jodie Taylor, who tapped it home past a stranded Franch. The Thorns couldn’t find an answer in stoppage time and left Memorial feeling like they left at least a point on the table.