Thorns, Reign splash through scoreless draw Friday
Friday wasn't exactly set up for beautiful soccer.
Of course, matches between the Portland Thorns and OL Reign often produce more intensity than beauty, and that certainly was the case on Friday, May 13, as the National Women's Soccer league rivals battled to a scoreless draw as an announced crowd of 14,496 watched at rain-soaked Providence Park.
Big picture — The Thorns (1-0-1, 4 points) play four of their first five regular-season matches at home, including three over eight days starting with this match, so there is a certain urgency to get results. But a scoreless draw felt about right in a match of midfield battles that saw each team with moments of positive possession and each have a ball cleared off the goal line.
Including preseason, this was the fourth match between the rivals in 2022. Thorns coach Rhian Wilkinson downplayed that familiarity as part of the reason scoring chances were difficult to create.
The team from Seattle was playing its fourth game over 14 days, while Portland hadn't played since opening the regular season on April 30 with a 3-0 win over Kansas City. Perhaps circumstances will be a bit less unique on July 10, when the rivals play their second regular-season tilt at Lumen Field in Seattle.
Chances of note — Portland's big chance in the first half was Sophia Smith running in behind on a beautiful ball from Christine Sinclair, but Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce came out to deny Smith. Also before halftime, the Reign's Bethany Balcer cleared a chance from the goalmouth on a Portland free kick, while at the other end Meghan Klingenberg headed a Reign shot from the goal mouth on a corner.
Portland generated several second-half chances. In the 63rd minute, Morgan Weaver was a half-step too early on a run that she finished and was correctly ruled to be offside. Weaver also had a shot deflected by a sliding Lauren Barnes and spin off the post. Late in the match, Portland's Janine Beckie sent a good chance wide of the near post.
Coach's take — Rhian Wilkinson called it a fair result, but wished her side had been just a bit more clinical when chances emerged.
"A little frustrated at the great moments that we had, how can we get more of them and get them more linked? And I think if we keep doing the little things, we get one or two goals in that game. We just didn't follow in on a shot or didn't get the rebound. So, those are the things that will keep me up tonight. But in general, really happy and a fair result," Wilkinson said.
Thorns' next match — Washington at Portland, 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 (Paramount+).
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