More eyes than ever were on Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday night.
In front of a record crowd of 21,144 at Providence Park in Portland, Ore., and a national audience watching live on FOX Sports, the rivalry tilt against Thorns FC was an opportunity to prove to the country where Reign FC stands amongst its fiercest NWSL rivals.
What followed was a gritty, 1–0 victory that has Reign FC just one-point behind the first-place Chicago Red Stars with a record of 7–3–3.
Leave it to the dynamic front line duo of Kim Little and Megan Rapinoe to make it happen.
After a scoreless first half, in which both Seattle and Portland notched one shot on goal as the two sides evenly traded possession, it was a connection between Rapinoe and Little in the 57th minute that put Seattle ahead for good.
Little gained possession on a through ball well outside the box from Rapinoe — making her Reign FC return after missing the past nine games due to the World Cup — and dribbled past the Portland backline.
The Scottish international then fired a shot past goalkeeper Michelle Betos to give Seattle the lead.
From that point on, goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer and the Seattle backline held firm. That included an acrobatic save from Kopmeyer in the 68th minute, diving to knock away a header from Christine Sinclair that would have evened the score. She finished the night with three saves.
Thorns FC continued on the attack for the remainder of the night, but was unable to find the elusive game-tying goal. The two teams finished relatively even on the attack, as Reign FC finished the night with eight shots to Portland’s six, with both putting three on goal. Seattle also had seven total corner kicks to Portland’s four.
With the victory, Reign FC picked up a crucial three points to remain neck and neck with Chicago at the top of the table. Reign FC has now picked up points via win or draw in eight of its last nine matches, dating back to May 2.
Both Seattle and Portland now get just four days to regroup before Sunday afternoon’s rematch on the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium. Less than 500 tickets remain for that game, and can be purchased here.
Match: Seattle Reign FC vs. Portland Thorns FC
Date: July 22, 2015
Venue: Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Goals by Half 1 2 F
SEA 0 1 1
PTFC 0 0 0
SEA — Little, 57'
SEA — Cox, 90+’ (Caution)
Lineups & Stats
SEA: GK Haley Kopmeyer, D Rachel Corsie, D Kendall Fletcher (Elli Reed, 84'), D Lauren Barnes, D Stephanie Cox, M Keelin Winters, M Jessica Fishlock, M Kim Little, F Megan Rapinoe (Mariah Bullock, 81'), F Beverly Yanez, F Merritt Mathias (Kiersten Dallstream, 88')
Substitutes not used: Caroline Stanley, Katrine Veje, Danielle Foxhoven, Amber Brooks
PTFC: GK Michelle Betos, D Rachel Van Hollebeke (Mana Shim, 82'), D Kat Williamson, D Emily Menges, D Stephanie Catley, D Clare Polkinghorne (Ayo Anonma, 60'), M McCall Zerboni (Kaylyn Kyle, 73'), M Tobin Health, F Allie Long, F Sinead Farrelly, F Christine Sinclair
Substitutes not used: Nadine Angerer, Hanna Terry, Kendall Johnson
Referee: Karen Abt
Assistant Referee: Jeffrey Greeson, Andrew Deuker
Fourth Official: Farhad Dadkho
Shots: SEA — 8 / PTFC — 6
Shots on goal: SEA — 3 / PTFC — 3
Saves: SEA — 3 / PTFC — 2
Corner kicks: SEA — 7 / PTFC — 4
Fouls: SEA — 9 / PTFC — 12
Offside: SEA — 9 / PTFC — 3