The Portland Thorns, the best team in the NWSL, came into Saturday’s game looking to get back on track. After starting the season with a team record 12-game undefeated streak, Portland was in the midst of a two-game losing streak. The early streak had them high in the standings, but the recent losing efforts had them wanting more.
They got it on Saturday.
With rival Seattle in town you knew you were in for a treat. However, the Thorns (and the Reign for that matter) were a shell of their normal selves. With seven players, all of which are everyday starters, out to represent their respective nations in the Olympics, the Thorns had to rely on depth to get them through.
For much of the match Seattle looked like the stronger team. Seattle’s offense was controlling possession, and controlling the game. On the other side, the Thorns defense was doing everything it needed to do to make sure the Reign wouldn’t do any damage.
Time after time Michelle Betos was able to stop Seattle in its tracks, and keep the Reign at bay. With so many familiar names out of the lineup, this familiar named stepped up and hit one out of the park.
Her counterpart in the other net, Haley Kopmeyer, was no slouch either. She continually stopped the Thorns, and her defenders up front helped slam the door on the Thorns most of the match. That is, until Nadia Nadim stepped up.
Nadim busted down that door in the late stages of the game with a goal that seemingly came out of nowhere. In minute 74, Mana Shim sent a high arching pass into the box that looked to be an easy clear for Seattle. However, Nadim, sandwiched between two Reign defenders, would out jump the defense and send a header past the Seattle goalkeeper. Kopmeyer never had a chance. The goal was met with a thunderous roar from the Portland faithful.
Fans were looking at a 0-0 tie, instead an improbable header gave them a 1-0 win.
Final Score: Portland Thorns 1 – Seattle Reign 0
Standout Thorns: No one played a better, or a more consistent game than Michelle Betos. The Thorns’ Goalkeeper was in total control of the box, and made sure to stop anything the Reign sent her way. Some saves were easy, some saves took quite a bit of effort. Betos was ready for all of them. At the end of the day, it was simply a very strong game from a very strong keeper.
Next Up: The Thorns get a very nice break from the pitch while the Olympics are going on, and don’t return to game action until August 27th. Their next opponent: The Seattle Reign, this time up in their neck of the woods. Kickoff for that match is set for 2:00 PM at Memorial Stadium in Seattle.