Playing their final regular-season home match, Portland Thorns FC defeated the Western New York Flash 3-2 behind goals from forward Nadia Nadim, forward Christine Sinclair and midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir before a sellout crowd of 21,144 fans at Providence Park on Sunday night. With the win, Portland earned a home playoff game in the NWSL semifinals.
Thorns FC (11-3-5, 38pts) finished their 2016 home schedule with a record of 8-1-1 at Providence Park as they played in front of their third sellout crowd in team history. In 10 home matches this season, Portland set a new NWSL record for total (169,449) and average (16,945) attendance in the team’s fourth season.
While they still await their opponent and exact date for their home semifinal match, tickets for Thorns FC’s first-ever home playoff game go sale to the general public on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available for purchase online at www.thornsfc.com, by phone at (888) 736-6849, or at the Providence Park box office. Thorns FC season ticket holders will receive information by email on how to purchase their tickets for the semifinal playoff match.
Thorns FC opened the scoring in the 27th minute following Nadim’s fourth converted penalty kick of the season. After midfielder Lindsey Horan played a long ball over the top that freed Nadim in behind the Western New York defense, the Denmark international was fouled inside the box. Nadim’s ensuing penalty attempt was placed into the lower left corner of the net for her team-leading ninth goal of the season.
Portland scored its second of the night from a counter-attacking play. After Nadim sent in a low-driven cross from the right wing that deflected off a Flash defender, Christine Sinclair took a touch and her left-footed shot struck the left post and went into the back of the net in the 37th minute. With her goal, Sinclair has now recorded a point in seven-consecutive games dating back to 2-0 win against Chicago on June 22, extending her team record. Just before halftime, Tobin Heath’s strike from outside the 18-yard box forced goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo into a save.
Second-half substitute Dagny Brynjarsdottir upped Portland’s lead to 3-0, with what would be the game-winning goal in the 69th minute. After midfielder Tobin Heath played the Iceland international through on goal, her right-footed strike from inside the penalty area beat an onrushing D’Angelo and found its way into the back of the net. The assist was Heath’s ninth of the year, which ranks first in the NWSL this season.
Down 3-0, Western New York (8-6-5, 29pts) threatened late in the match after forward Jess McDonald headed in defender Liz Eddy’s cross in the 77th minute to cut the lead to two. Three minutes later, McDonald found forward Lynn Williams, whose shot beat goalkeeper Michelle Betos in the 80th minute to set up a wild finish. In stoppage-time, a long-range shot from Williams forced Betos into an acrobatic tip save over her left post to preserve the win.
Following the international break, Thorns FC close out the 2016 NWSL regular season on the road against Sky Blue FC on Sunday, Sept. 25, at Yurcak Field; kickoff is set for 4 p.m. (Pacific) with a live web stream at www.thornsfc.com.
- Thorns FC played in front of their first sellout crowd of the 2016 season (21,144) and third sellout overall in team history. Additionally, it marked the sixth time Portland has drawn a crowd of more than 18,000 for a game.
- With the sellout, Thorns FC set a new NWSL overall (169,449) and average (16,945) attendance record in the team’s 10th game at home this season. Portland previously held the previous overall attendance record (160,341) set in 2014 in 12 games played at home, while it also held the previous average attendance record (15,639) set during the 2015 season in 10 games played at Providence Park.
- Midfielder Tobin Heath recorded her NWSL-leading ninth assist of the season. Additionally, Heath’s assist was the 13th of her career, which moves her past midfielder Allie Long for the most in Thorns FC history.
- Forward Christine Sinclair scored in her third consecutive match and recorded a point in her seventh straight match, extending her team record for most consecutive games with a point.
- With her goal, forward Nadia Nadim became the sixth player to record 20 or more career points for Thorns FC.
- With the win, goalkeeper Michelle Betos recorded her 12th career win, which is the most in Thorns FC history.
- Defender Emily Menges played in her 59th career match for Portland and is the only player this season to play every minute of every match.
- Portland improved to 6-2-3 in the all-time series against Western New York, including a mark of 3-1-1 at Providence Park.
- Thorns FC have outscored their opponents 23-8 at Providence Park this season.