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Thorns remain in first place after 1-1 draw with OL Reign

Meghan Klingenberg made her 100th Thorns appearance in the draw.

Thorns FC

The Portland Thorns remain at the top of the NWSL standings after a 1-1 draw with rivals OL Reign. Meghan Klingenberg made her 100th appearance for the Portland Thorns in the Cascadia clash.

The Reign kicked the ball directly out of bounds to start the match. The two teams gathered in the center circle and locked arms in solidarity. The Thorns quickly opened the scoring when play resumed. Sophia Smith turned past two Reign defenders and passed it into the box. The ball bounced off Alana Cook and into the path of Morgan Weaver, who put Portland in front.

The Reign responded by putting the Thorns under pressure. They carved out their first chance in the 17th minute. A corner kick made its way to Rose Lavelle at the back post. She chipped it to Jess Fishlock. Bella Bixby caught the shot with ease.

Portland defended well and in the 18th minute, took control of the match. The Thorns got on the ball and pinned the Reign back in their own half. Rocky Rodriguez tried her luck from distance but put a little too much on her lofted shot.

In the 26th minute, Becky Sauerbrunn played it down the flank to Smith. The forward pulled it back to Christine Sinclair but her shot was caught. The Reign’s best chance of the half came two minutes later. Dzsenifer Marozsan cut past Smith and crossed to Fishlock at the back post. She headed it back across to Eugenie Le Sommer, who couldn’t keep her volley down.

Portland went the other way quickly. Lindsey Horan passed to Klingenberg. The left back played it to Weaver. Her shot skimmed just wide of the post. Reign goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi gifted the ball to Smith moments later. Smith shot toward the bottom corner but it was cleared by a defender for a corner.

Angela Salem nearly scored from distance in the 32nd minute and Horan had multiple headed chances but the Thorns were unable to double their advantage before the half.

Both teams tried to dictate possession to start the second half. The Reign more of the ball but the Thorns defended well and looked to strike in transition. In the 60th minute, the Thorns nearly capitalized on the counter.

Sinclair played Weaver down the left. Weaver squared it to Smith, who touched it to Sinclair. The Canadian curled her shot just wide of the post. It was her last action of the match and she was replaced by Crystal Dunn.

The Reign upped the pressure. Substitute Megan Rapinoe looped a header off target before Lavelle cut inside and tried to curl the ball into the top corner. Rapinoe also fired into the side-netting after a Bixby giveaway.

The Reign pushed for an equalizer as time ticked away in Providence Park. They found an equalizer after a highly questionable penalty. Salem had both arms tucked in front of her body and the ball struck her. The referee pointed to the spot and Rapinoe stepped up and buried the penalty.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw. The Thorns keep their one-point lead in first place over the Reign in the NWSL standings.

The Thorns travel to Houston next. They will play the Dash at BBVA Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. PST.