(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

Match Recap

The Orlando Pride’s fairy-tail ending of winning a championship in front of their home crowd was not to be. A late-season run spurred on by the return of Pride forward Alex Morgan helped Orlando to a nine-game unbeaten streak and its first-ever playoff appearance. It all ended Saturday afternoon, as the No. 2-seeded Portland Thorns defeated the No. 3 Pride 4-1 at Providence Park in front of 18,193 fans.

Portland’s early, 2-0 lead posed an insurmountable obstacle for the Pride, as the Pride had only ever scored twice against the Thorns in four games. The Pride were also fighting against the odds, as Orlando has never beaten Portland in all previous matchups.

But the Pride didn’t go down without a fight, as first-year Orlando midfielder Alanna Kennedy would cut Portland’s lead in half in the 23rd minute. After Kennedy’s challenge helped the Pride earn a corner kick moments before the score, forward Marta Vieira da Silva assisted on Kennedy’s first NWSL playoff goal. Marta sent the short corner to Chioma Ubogagu, who returned it to the Brazilian for a cross to the near post. Waiting there was Toni Pressley, who flicked the ball backward with her head toward Kennedy for the Pride’s lone goal of the match.

For Portland, its early goals came in the span of three minutes, scoring in the 12th and 15th minutes.

Canadian international Christine Sinclair began the effort for Portland’s first goal with a set-up ball to Meghan Klingenberg on the left flank. With Marta streaking in to disrupt her, Klingenberg took a touch to her right before crossing the ball to the back post for an Amandine Henry touch and goal.

The Thorns struck again just three minutes later off a free-kick delivery by Tobin Heath, who was making her first start and second appearance of 2017 at Providence Park. As Heath approached the ball, Portland’s Emily Sonnett curled around the mob of players occupying the penalty spot. With Pressley trailing her, Sonnett lifted into the air and headed it past a rooted Ashlyn Harris.

Early, second-half build-up by the Pride provided chances for Orlando, but it was ultimately thwarted when Hayley Raso broke free for a 3-1 lead in the 71st minute. Lindsey Horan delivered her third assist of 2017 with a long ball down the heart of Orlando’s defense for a 1-on-1 between Raso and Harris. With Harris seemingly indecisive about her approach, Raso tracked the ball down and slipped it to the right for a 3-1 lead.

Sinclair scored in the 82nd minute after late, second-half sub Nadia Nadim propped the ball high over right-back Kristen Edmonds’ head for the final goal of the game.

Woman of the Match: F Christine Sinclair

Sinclair was a threat all game, recording a game-high three shots (three on goal). She helped the Thorns to the 2017 NWSL Final with a goal in the waning minutes to keep the Thorns’ early lead out of reach.

What’s next?

With the loss to Portland on Saturday, the Pride’s 2017 season officially comes to an end.

Highlights

NDR Notes

  • Heath was making her third appearance of the 2017 season, her first start and second appearance at home this year.
  • This was the first time the Pride conceded four goals all season.
  • Kennedy scored her first-ever NWSL playoff goal.
  • The Pride were riding a nine-game unbeaten streak going into their first-ever playoff match.

Scoring

Time Team Goal-scorer Assisted by
12’ Portland Thorns Amandine Henry Meghan Klingenberg
15’ Portland Thorns Emily Sonnett Tobin Heath
23’ Orlando Pride Alanna Kennedy Toni Pressley, Marta Vieira da Silva
71’ Portland Thorns Hayley Raso Lindsey Horan
82’ Portland Thorns Christine Sinclair Nadia Nadim

Statistics and Starting Lineups

Goals Assists Shots Shots on Goal Possession %
Portland Thorns 4 4 11 6 49.2%
Orlando Pride 1 1 13 1 50.8%

Portland Thorns starting XI (3-2-4-1): Adrianna Franch (GK); Emily Menges, Emily Sonnett, Katherine Reynolds; Lindsey Horan, Amandine Henry; Meghan Klingenberg, Tobin Heath, Hayley Raso, Ashleigh Sykes; Christine Sinclair

Orlando Pride starting XI (5-3-2): Ashlyn Harris (GK/C); Toni Pressley, Steph Catley, Ali Krieger, Monica Hickmann Alves, Kristen Edmonds; Chioma Ubogagu, Alanna Kennedy, Dani Weatherholt; Marta Vieira da Silva, Alex Morgan


For more on the Pride, as they head into the offseason after their most successful season in their short history, follow Victor Tan on Twitter at @NDR_VictorTan.