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Reign FC put the Thorns out of home playoff contention with 2-0 win

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Nikita Taparia

The streak is over. The Portland Thorns dropped their third game of the season to the Tacoma Reign, ending a three year stretch of hosting home playoff games that began with the start of Mark Parsons’ tenure at the Thorns.

In what has been a remarkable season for the Reign, a team beset by serious injuries including several season ending ACL tears clinched a playoff spot and a season sweep against their rivals.

Those long-term absences, including Reign stalwart Jess Fishlock, made it hard for the game to feel like a truly full strength matchup. Tobin Heath was not listed in the injury report beforehand but failed to make the matchday squad due to a late injury. Caitlin Foord stepped into the team as the left sided forward in her place.

One big name did make it: Megan Rapinoe, who has spent must of the season either away at the World Cup or recovering from injury, saw her first game against the Thorns this season.

The Thorns started the early game sloppily, playing some passes out of the back that the Reign very nearly pounced on. In the 3rd minute AD Franch passed it directly to Megan Rapinoe out of a goal kick and Rapinoe, almost surprised to have the ball at her feet, took her shot too early. Emily Menges then in the 8th minute cleared the ball short that led to a Reign sending in a perfect cross that they somehow managed to not turn in.

Their best early chance would come in the 11th minute: Rebecca Quinn, sitting at the back post for a perfect Rapinoe cross delivery, managed to get in front of her marker Caitlin Foord but didn’t get anything on the ball as it drifted in front of goal.

The Thorns had a few chances: In the 24th minute, Hayley Raso snuck in front Lauren Barnes and took a chance with a shot off the outside of her boot as she was falling out of position that just drifted past the far post.

Megan Rapinoe caught Franch off her line in the 25th minute but only managed to hit the post, and the Reign would open the scoring just after, again off a poorly cleared ball. Theresa Nielsen picked up the pass and crossed in for Jodie Taylor, who slipped in between Menges and Sonnett, controlled the high cross and turned to fire past Franch.

It was a physical game, as usual for Thorns/Reign, but some particularly hard collisions threatened to dampen the mood. Caitlin Foord ran into Casey Murphy’s legs in the first half and was lucky to escape without a card, while Dagny Brynjarsdottir collided with Bev Yanez’s elbow giving her a nosebleed big enough to bring the game to a halt for a while in the 50th minute. Lindsey Horan hollided with Bev Yanez in the 68th minute and pulled up looking uncomfortable but was allowed to continue.

At halftime the Thorns took out Midge Purce for Katherine Reynolds and went to three at the back, pushing up Carpenter and Klingenberg up as wing backs and leaving Foord and Raso as the front two. The Thorns saw some immediate returns both defensively and getting their fullbacks forward.

Horan nearly drew the Thorns level with a volley bounced off the ground in the 72nd minute after some of the Thorns best combination play all game, with Brynjarsdottir sending Carpenter running down the wing with a perfect pass between Rapinoe and Catley.

The Reign got their second in the 81st. Bethany Balcer, a second half sub for the Reign, picked up a loose ball in the box and snuck a shot just past Franch’s outstretched fingers at her near post.

Hayley Raso came off for Simone Charley in the 78th minute. Charley had a chance to pull one back for the Thorns late but pulled her shot past the near post with Casey Murphy closing down on her.

Horan, involved in quite a few rough tackles both ways, landed uncomfortably on her head after a challenge with Kristen McNabb in stoppage time and had to leave the field on a stretcher, a rough ending to a rough outing for the team.