PORTLAND, Ore. (Via Portland Thorns FC) – Behind a pair of goals in each half, Portland Thorns FC recorded their eight consecutive home win and advanced to their second NWSL Championship in five seasons with a 4-1 victory over the Orlando Pride in front of 18,193 fans at Providence Park on Saturday afternoon. Portland received goals from midfielder Amandine Henry, defender Emily Sonnett and forwards Hayley Raso and Christine Sinclair, extending its unbeaten streak to seven games (6-0-1) with the semifinal win.
Portland will travel to Orlando, Fla., for the NWSL Championship, which will take place on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Orlando City Stadium, at 1:30 p.m. (Pacific) on Lifetime. Thorns FC will square off against the winner of the second semifinal match between the North Carolina Courage and Chicago Red Stars, which is set for Sunday, Oct. 8, at 12:30 p.m. (Pacific) on Lifetime.
Tickets, starting as low as $20, are on sale now for the 2017 NWSL Championship and are available atwww.NWSLchampionship.com and by phone at 1-855-ORL-CITY.
Thorns FC, who hosted a semifinal match at Providence Park for a second consecutive season, scored a pair of goals in a three-minute span in the first 15 minutes of the match as Henry and Sonnett gave Portland a 2-0 lead. The goal was the first for Henry in the NWSL playoffs, while the goal was Sonnett’s second career goal in the postseason for Thorns FC.
Building from the back, Sinclair quickly changed the point of the attack, spraying the ball out wide for defender Meghan Klingenberg darting to the left side. Klingenberg delivered a pinpoint cross to the back post for Henry, who slid into the goal box and directed the ball with the outside of her right foot into the back of the net in the 12th minute.
Remaining on the front foot, Portland took advantage of a set-piece opportunity after earning a free kick on the right wing in the 15th minute. Midfielder Tobin Heath delivered a curling free kick towards the right post. Sonnett made a hard run towards the right post and sent a glancing header past Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and into the back of the net to put Thorns FC in front 2-0.
Orlando pulled a goal back in the 23rd minute to make it a 2-1 game as midfielder Alanna Kennedy deposited a looping header into the top left corner of the goal off a Pride corner kick, but would not record a shot on target for the remaining 67 minutes of the match.
Searching for additional goals, Thorns FC added to their lead with less than 20 minutes remaining in the match when Raso tallied her first career NWSL playoff goal. Midfielder Lindsey Horan played Raso in behind the Orlando backline with a well-weighted pass from Portland’s defensive half of the field into space. Raso settled the ball near the edge of the box, dribbling at Harris and beating the Orlando goalkeeper with a shot inside the right post to increase the lead to 3-1.
Portland closed out the match with a fourth goal as Sinclair notched her third career playoff goal – tied for the second most in NWSL playoff history – in the 82nd minute. Forward Nadia Nadim picked out Sinclair in the box with a diagonal pass from the right wing, looping a pass over the head of Orlando Pride defender Kristen Edmonds near the penalty spot. Sinclair collected the pass and fired a side-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.
- Portland advanced to its second NWSL Championship in five seasons, becoming the fourth team in league history to have advanced to multiple championship matches.
- Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last seven matches (6-0-1), outscoring their opponents 16-3.
- Playing its final game at Providence Park in 2017, Portland has won eight consecutive home matches to conclude the season, outscoring opponents 21-4.
- Thorns FC tied the record for most goals scored in an NWSL playoff match, equaling the four goals scored by the Western New York Flash in 2016.
- Portland has scored two or more goals in four of its five playoff matches, including seven total goals in its last two playoff matches.
- Sinclair scored her third career NWSL playoff goal, which ranks tied for second in all-time playoff goals.
- Emily Sonnett scored her second career playoff goal in the match. Sonnett is one of three Thorns FC players (Heath and Sinclair) to have scored multiple playoff goals.
- Sonnett and Sinclair are the third and fourth players to score in consecutive years in the NWSL playoffs along with Seattle Reign FC’s Megan Rapinoe and FC Kansas City’s Amy Rodriguez.
- Amandine Henry and Hayley Raso scored their first career NWSL playoff goals, becoming the seventh and eighth different players to score a goal for Portland in the playoffs.
- Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan and Nadia Nadim all recorded their first career NWSL playoff assists.
- Allie Long, Sinclair and Heath made their fifth playoff appearance for the club – the only three players to have appeared in all five of Portland’s playoff matches.
- Ashleigh Sykes and Adrianna Franch started their first career playoff game for Thorns FC. It marked Franch’s third postseason appearance in her career as she started both playoff matches as a member of the Western New York Flash during her rookie season in 2013.
- Heath earned her first start of the 2017 season, making her third consecutive appearance in Saturday’s match.
Portland Thorns FC vs. Orlando Pride – NWSL Semifinal
Oct. 7, 2017 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Orlando Pride 1 0 1
Portland Thorns FC 2 2 4
POR: Henry (Klingenberg), 12
POR: Sonnett (Heath), 15
ORL: Kennedy (Pressley), 23
POR: Raso (Horan), 71
POR: Sinclair (Nadim), 82
POR: Henry (caution), 80
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Franch, D Reynolds, D Sonnett, D Menges, D Klingenberg, M Henry (Long, 81), M Horan, M Sinclair ©, F Sykes (Brynjarsdottir, 67), F Raso, F Heath (Nadim, 80)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Eckerstrom, D Boureille, F Weber, F Lussi
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Sinclair, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Henry, Sonnett, 2); FOULS: 15 (Henry, Horan, 3); OFFSIDES: 5; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 0
ORL: GK Harris, D Edmonds (Evans, 89), D Monica, D Krieger, D Catley, D Pressley, M Weatherholt (Spencer, 81), M Kennedy, M Ubogagu (Hill, 73), F Marta, F Morgan
Substitutes Not Used: GK Bledsoe, M Driesse, M Blankenship, F Fields
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Pressley, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Kennedy, 1); FOULS: 4 (Monica, 2); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 9; SAVES: 2
Referee: Timothy Ford
Assistant Referees: Deleana Quan, John Krill
4th Official: Farhad Dadkho
Weather: Cloudy, 60 degrees