OL Reign 0
Portland Thorns FC 0
NWSL Challenge Cup
July 13, 2020
In what could prove to be the only Seattle/Tacoma versus Portland Cascadia derby of 2020 for either the women or the men, OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC finished out the group phase of the NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah on monday.
The final match day of of the NWSL Challenge Cup group phase found the league’s biggest rivalry taking center stage. OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC played the early match, a match supporters had circled on their calendars from the moment the schedules were determined and announced.
Match day four for OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC was filled with story lines. Portland needed a win to avoid being the only winless side in group play with three points could avoid the 8 seed and a quarterfinal match up with North Carolina. A draw would keep Portland at the 8 seed. OL Reign could jump as high as the 2 seed with a big win, a draw could leave them in the middle somewhere, or drop to the 8 seed themselves with a bad enough loss.
The opening third was mostly the Thorns on the attack, with Reign absorbing the challenges and looking to counter. Going into the first hydration break scoreless served the Reign, as Portland needed to be the aggressor to get out of the tournament cellar.
The Thorns created chances, but were not able to break through in the early stages. Going into the match, OL Reign had actually been the statistically best possession team in the tournament, but seemed willing to take what the match was giving them as Portland pushed forward consistently.
The Reign lost Bethany Balcer late in the first half, coming off in the 39th minute. Balcer has been a constant in this tournament, coming off of her ROY season. First half stoppage time saw the Reign create a couple of late dangerous chances and a chance to take a surprising lead. The nil nil scoreline at the interval meant the second forty-five would likely be dramatic and affect the tournament seeding and quarterfinal match ups.
Substitutes would play a significant role in the final third as the match remained level. OL Reign swapped in fresh legs on the offense, sticking with their veteran defenders down the stretch of the match. Jessica Fishlock came on for the first time in a year late in the match. In the end, they did not get the late goal and grab the three, but a fifth point in the standings still moves them up in the ladder.
Portland controlled long stretches of the match, statistically and in keeping OL Reign pressured and stuck in their own defensive end. All those chances simply never paid off for the Thorns, ending the group phase in the 8th seed and without a win. Should the Thorns offense find the net, they could still be a dangerous opponent for the Courage and cause havoc in the tournament.
Match: OL Reign vs. Portland Thorns FC
Date: July 13, 2020
Venue: Zions Bank Stadium, Herriman, Utah
Kickoff: 9:30 a.m. PT
Weather: 85 degrees, partly cloudy
Lineups & Stats:
RGN: GK Michelle Betos, D Steph Cox, D Lauren Barnes, D Amber Brooks, D Celia Jiménez Delgado (Adrienne Jordan 73’), M Allie Long (Nicole Momiki 58’), M Rebecca Quinn, M Dani Weatherholt, F Bethany Balcer (Taylor Smith 40’), F Jodie Taylor (Jess Fishlock 73’), F Sofia Huerta (Darian Jenkins 58’)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Casey Murphy, GK Carly Nelson, D Alana Cook, D Machaela George, D Madison Hammond, D Kristen McNabb, M Shirley Cruz, M Rosie White, F Mariah Lee, F Jasmyne Spencer
Head Coach: Farid Benstiti
Shots on goal: 3
Corner kicks: 2
POR: GK Bella Bixby, D Meghan Klingenberg, D Katherine Reynolds (Autumn Smithers 79’), D Christen Westphal (Madison Pogarch 90+2’), D Kelli Hubley, M Celeste Boureille, M Rocky Rodriguez, M Angela Salem (Gabby Seiler 79’), F Christine Sinclair, F Morgan Weaver (Marissa Everett 90+2’), F Simone Charley (Tyler Lussi 65’)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Britt Eckerstrom, D Meghan Nally, M Emily Ogle, F Anika Rodriguez
Head Coach: Mark Parsons
Shots on goal: 4
Corner kicks: 5