PORTLAND, OR – In their second match of the 2020 NWSL Fall Series, the Thorns downed rivals OL Reign 4-1 at Providence Park, Wednesday evening. The Thorns were led by a Christine Sinclair hat trick and a should-be goal of the week nominee from Rocky Rodriguez, her first goal since joining the club this past offseason.
The Thorns struggled to break down OL Reign for much of the first half, as their diamond-shape midfield consisting of Salem, Rodriguez, Horan, and Sinclair were slowed by a persistent Reign defense in creating meaningful chances in the final third.
Just before halftime, the gates opened up and the Thorns offense found their way into the match. In the 40th minute, Lindsey Horan gave two defenders the slip and made a dangerous run into the box before laying off a perfect ball for a trailing Sinclair to finish off.
Sinclair doubled her goal tally in first-half stoppage time as the Reign defense made an erroneous challenge against Simone Charley inside the box and the referee quickly pointed to the spot. Sinclair caught OL Reign keeper Michelle Betos going the wrong way on the penalty attempt to put the Thorns up 2-0 at halftime.
In the 57th minute Simone Charley capped off a terrific night by whipping in a cross to midfielder Rocky Rodriguez. Rodriguez squared up in front of goal and launched a rocket of a left-footed volley into the back of the net to pour it on against a withering Reign defense.
Portland keeper Britt Eckerstrom continued the long stretch of eye-catching performances from Thorns keepers this year, notching seven saves on the night. Portland GK coach Nadine Angerer served as emergency backup again as Adrianna Franch and Bella Bixby remain sidelined due to injury.
OL Reign’s Bethany Balcer did get one goal past Eckerstrom in an otherwise dominant performance from the Thorns defense. In the 70th minute Shirley Cruz put in a cross high enough for only Balcer to reach and Balcer’s header looped in over a flat-footed Eckerstrom.
Sinclair completed her hat trick in the 74th minute in what was arguably her best goal of the night. Sinclair took a couple finesse touches on the ball at the top of the box, then turned on the jets to weave around the Reign defense before tucking the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
Portland was also encouraged at the sight of the #1 and #2 overall picks in this year’s NWSL Draft getting on the pitch at the same time. Rookie forwards Sophia Smith and Morgan Weaver were both second half subs that provided positive moments as each player looked impressive in a stacked Portland attack that will inevitably have to do some torch-passing in the near future.
Next up, the Thorns take on Utah Royals FC on Saturday, October 3rd at 7 pm PST on CBS Sports Network.