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OCT 27
3:30 PM ET
ESPN
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Sinclair brace leads Thorns to 4-0 win over Spirit
Portland can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a Sky Blue loss or tie on Sunday
Portland Thorns FC forwards Nadia Nadim and Christine Sinclair celebrate at Providence Park. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)
Portland Thorns FC forwards Nadia Nadim and Christine Sinclair celebrate at Providence Park. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Christine Sinclair scored twice as Portland Thorns FC (12-6-4, 40 points) beat the Washington Spirit  (4-13-4, 16 points) 4-0 at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon. Kickoff was moved up 18 minutes because of high heat expected later in the afternoon.

 

The second-place Thorns now need a Sky Blue FC loss or tie vs. FC Kansas City on Sunday to become the second team to clinch a spot in the playoffs, joining the first-place Courage, who clinched a spot on Wednesday night.

 

Thorns forward Nadia Nadim opened the scoring in the 22nd minute despite missing her first penalty kick attempt of the season. Spirit goalkeeper Didi Haracic saved Nadim’s initial shot, but Nadim cleaned up the rebound.

The play started with Allie Long, at center forward for Portland Saturday afternoon, being fouled by Spirit defender Whitney Church after a quick restart taken by Nadim gave Long a chance in the box.

Sinclair doubled the lead just three minutes later. She took a pass from Nadim, touched it around Spirit defender Shelina Zadorsky, and hit it past Haracic for her first goal of the match.

The Thorns got their third goal of the game in the 40th minute when Emily Sonnett headed in a Meghan Klingenberg corner kick. It’s Klingenberg’s sixth assist of the season, which moves her into a tie for second in the league. Portland earned the corner after Haracic made a big save on a Nadim shot, pushing it out of bounds.

 

 

Sinclair scored her second of the game in the 81st minute. It’s her seventh goal of the season and 30th of her NWSL career. The goal came off another Klingenberg corner kick. Portland’s initial effort was headed off the crossbar by Long, but the Spirit could not clear the rebound and Sinclair knocked in the loose ball to make it 4-0.

With her 30th career goal, Sinclair became the sixth player in NWSL history to reach the milestone.

“I felt like it was a hard day to keep the high energy up and keep our positive attacking, aggressive soccer — maintain that at a really high level. It was tough. Washington did a good job in getting back into it, and getting some rhythm,” Thorns coach Mark Parsons said after the game on Lifetime, speaking with Dalen Cuff. “I thought the second half we should’ve gotten a bit more control and scored a fourth goal earlier, and that would’ve helped us out.”

Portland played the match without forward Hayley Raso, the reigning Player of the Week, who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch earned her ninth shutout of the season. She is one shy of tying the single-season record of 10 set by FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart set in 2013.

We take a lot of Pride in shutouts,” Klingenberg told Cuff on Lifetime after the game. “We want to make sure that, not only are we scoring goals, but we’re not getting scored on, because if we don’t get scored on, then the other team doesn’t have the chance to win.”

Though the Thorns can clinch a playoff spot if results go their way on Sunday, the goal for the team is to get a home playoff game. Portland saw a crowd of 19,141 fans at Saturday’s game, their second-highest attendance of the season. The Thorns are 9-1-1 at home this season.

“Yes, hundred percent. We love playing in front of our crowd. The fans are amazing and obviously we want to bring the playoff games back to Portland,” Nadim told Cuff after the game.

The Thorns will next travel to Boston to take on the Breakers on Sunday. The Spirit will visit Sky Blue FC on Sunday.

 

 

 

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