Portland Thorns FC drew with rivals OL Reign 1-1 in head coach Rhian Wilkinson’s first match at the helm. The Reign opened the scoring through Sofia Huerta and Christine Sinclair scored the equalizer as things ended level at Lumen Field.
Sam Coffey and Hina Sugita both earned their official Thorns debut and first starts for the club in the match. The Reign took advantage of the Thorns’ inexperience early and made it difficult for Portland to build from the back.
OL Reign took a deserved lead in the 16th minute courtesy of a Sofia Huerta banger. The Thorns responded well and started to have more sustained possession. This eventually led to a Thorns equalizer scored by none other than Christine Sinclair. Portland looked the better team as the half progressed but were unable to further capitalize as the teams went into the break locked at one.
The second half got off to a much slower start as each team poked and prodded the other, examining for potential weaknesses. Neither team was able to carve out concrete chances in the second stanza as the majority of the half was played between the two 18-yard boxes. Sophia Smith was unable to convert into an open goal in the 82nd minute and that proved to be the last chance of the game.
- 6’ Jess Fishlock played a through pass intended for Veronica Latsko. It slid under the foot of Emily Menges and found its way to Latsko, who was one on one with Bella Bixby. The Thorns’ goalkeeper narrowed the angle and Latsko scooped her shot inches wide of the post.
- 14’ Bixby gifted possession to the Reign off a goal kick which resulted in Tziarra King blasting a shot into the wrong side of the net.
- 19’ King played it to Angelina at the top of the 18-yard box. The Brazilian midfielder drew two defenders which left Sofia Huerta unmarked. Angelina poked it to Huerta, who fired a laser into the back of the net, giving the Reign a one-goal lead.
- After the goal, the Thorns settled down and were able to possess more.
- 26’ The Reign nearly doubled the lead. Poor free kick defending resulted in King receiving the ball at the back post. She struck at half-volley that pinged off Bixby’s post.
- 28’ The Thorns would make the Reign rue their missed chances. Coffey switched the point of attack, finding Natalia Kuikka. The right wing back played a one-time pass behind the defense to Sophia Smith. Smith was denied by the keeper but Christine Sinclair was there to clean it up and drew the game level.
- 37’ Latsko slashed a cross toward goal and it flew over Bixby and off the crossbar.
- 43’ Quinn linked well with Angelina, who played it to Latsko. The Reign attacker struck from distance but it was deflected out for a corner.
- 45+1’ Kuikka drove down the right and played a cutback to Smith. The Thorns’ forward redirected the ball toward goal but it was blocked at the crucial moment.
- Like in the first half, the Reign had more of the ball to start the second half. But the Thorns were better able to limit Quinn’s influence in build-up which allowed the Thorns to get more of the ball while limiting the Reign’s ability to get forward.
- 55’ Latsko received the ball in the box from a corner kick. She turned quickly and lifted a soft shot at Bixby.
- 65’ Olivia Moultrie came on to replace Yazmeen Ryan.
- 69’ Smith turned and fired toward goal but couldn’t keep her effort on target.
- 72’ Morgan Weaver replaced Sinclair.
- 78’ Sophia Smith was played through on goal. She took a touch past the keeper but her off-balance shot couldn’t find the back of an open net.
- 87’ Marissa Everett came on for Smith.
- Neither team was able to find a winner and the Thorns and the Reign shared the points as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Thorns continue their road trip as they travel to San Diego to play newcomers Wave FC. The match is scheduled for Saturday, March 26, and will kick off at 7 p.m. PST. The match will be broadcast on Paramount+ and on Twitch internationally.