PORTLAND, Ore. – Playing their second home match in four days, Portland Thorns FC defeated the Houston Dash 3-0 behind a brace from midfielder Allie Long, a goal from forward Christine Sinclair and a two-assists from forward Tobin Heath in front of 13,752 fans at Providence Park on Wednesday night.
With the win, Thorns FC (10-3-5, 35pts) clinched their third playoff berth in four seasons, joining the Washington Spirit as the only other team to clinch a playoff spot in the NWSL this season.
Coming out on the attack, Thorns FC registered nine shots in the first half and created a number of goal-scoring opportunities. Portland opened the scoring in the 26th minute when forward Tobin Heath sent in a delivery from a free kick from 30-yards out into the 18-yard box picking out midfielder Allie Long, whose looping header caught Houston goalkeeper Lydia Williams off her line and made its way into the back of the net. Portland nearly doubled its lead in the 32nd minute after forward Christine Sinclair was released into space behind the Houston defense and her shot from point-blank-range was saved by Williams. Seconds later, her follow-up shot from inside the six-yard box struck the lower left post. Just before halftime, Sinclair played Long through in the box and her angled shot was kicked aside by Williams for a corner kick in the 45th minute.
Thorns FC scored their second goal of the match in the 71st minute after Heath took a touch past her defender on the left wing and picked out Long, who flicked up the ball and rifled her left-footed shot into the lower right corner of the net to notch her fourth goal in her last three appearances. Sinclair capped off the scoring in the 90th minute when Williams misjudged a cross inside the box, with the Canadian international reacting quickly to the rebound before calmly slotting in her effort from six yards out.
Holding a 21-10 shot advantage in the game, Portland created scoring opportunities throughout the evening. After dispossessing the ball from a Houston Dash defender, forward Nadia Nadim’s shot from the right edge of the penalty area was saved by Williams in the 10th minute. Four minutes later, Heath beat her defender on the left wing and fired a shot that forced Williams into a save. In the 58th minute, midfielder Lindsey Horan found herself in space at the top of the box and her long-range shot was saved by Williams. Continuing to apply pressure, Heath dribbled past her defender inside the box and sent in a pass across the mouth of the goal that was latched onto by Sinclair, whose shot was saved off the line by a Houston defender in the 67th minute.
Next up, Thorns FC will play host to the Western New York Flash in the final regular-season home game at Providence Park on Sunday, Sept. 11. The match on Sept. 11 kicks off at 6:30 p.m. (Pacific) and will feature a live national broadcast on FS1. With a win or a draw against Western New York, Portland would clinch home-field advantage in the NWSL semifinals.
Midfielder Allie Long scored her 26th regular-season goal, which ranks third all-time in the NWSL.
Long recorded her fourth brace with Thorns FC.
Midfielder Tobin Heath registered two assists, placing her in first place in the NWSL for assists (8). Additionally, the two assists moved Heath into a tie for first place with Allie Long for the most assists in team history (12).
With the shutout and win, goalkeeper Michelle Betos tied Karina LeBlanc for the most wins (11) and shutouts (7) in team history.
The shutout was Portland’s seventh of the season.
Portland improved to 4-2-1 in the all-time series against Houston, including a mark of 2-1-0 at Providence Park.
Thorns FC have outscored their opponents 20-6 at Providence Park this season.