Reign FC edges Thorns
Rosie White's opportunistic goal in the 54th minute lifted Reign FC to a 1-0 win over the Portland Thorns in National Women's Soccer League action on Wednesday at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington.
Portland struggled to create scoring chances against an organized Reign team on a narrow field at the home of the Tacoma Rainiers baseball team.
The result tightens the group at the top of the NWSL standings.
The Thorns are 7-3-6 (27 points) and remain in second place ahead of a Sunday home showdown with first-place North Carolina. The Reign are 7-3-5 (26 points), tied for third place with Chicago.
It was the second 1-0 win over the Thorns this season for the Reign. As in the July 5 game at Portland, it was former Thorn Ifeoma Onumonu who set up the goal.
Onumonu received a pass in space on the left wing and was able to dribble past Portland defender Elizabeth Ball and deliver a cross that found an unmarked Shea Groom at the top of the 6-yard box. Groom didn't get a lot of power on her header but it fell into White's path in front of Portland's Emily Sonnett for a close-range finish.
A crowd of 5,865 watched the rivalry match.
Portland dominated possession, but without much room in wide areas, struggled to find clean buildup play.
Reign goalkeeper Casey Murphy was credited with two saves in her fifth shutout of the season. Her toughest play was on a close-range chance from a tight angle for Portland's Hayley Raso that came moments after White's goal.
Portland pushed players forward as the second half went on but found little luck dropping long balls into the crowded penalty area.
Other than Raso's dribble deep into the penalty area that Murphy blocked, the Thorns best chances were a Sonnett cross that was just a bit too high for an open Raso and an 80th-minute header from Christine Sinclair that flashed wide.
Tobin Heath was active in the first half. She almost scored in the 38th minute after winning the ball in midfield, dribbling forward with pace, and trying a low shot from 23 yards that want just outside the right post.
Heath appeared to be fouled inside the penalty area in the 17th minute when defender Theresa Nielsen clattered into her but no foul was called.
The Thorns will play their next three matches — and six of their eight remaining games — at Providence Park. Sunday's noon game is one of two visits to Portland by defending champion North Carolina.
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