Forward Hayley Raso of Portland Thorns FC was named the NWSL Player of the Week for Week 18, as voted by the NWSL Media Association. Her brace led Portland to a 2-1 win on the road against Cascadia rivals Seattle Reign FC.
Raso’s stats show just how crucial she was to Portland in the win: 2 goals, 6 total shots, 4 shots on target, 1 blocked shot, two key passes and two chances created.
With her two goals on Saturday, Raso scored her first brace of her NWSL career and the eighth player in Thorns history to tally a brace. With her five goals this season, she now leads the team scoring along with Christine Sinclair.
Raso shares something else with Sinclair — the last time the Portland Thorns traveled to Seattle and got a win on the road was August 17, 2013. In that match, Christine Sinclair also scored a brace for the win.
Raso’s award is the second time this month a player has gone into Seattle, scored a brace and won Player of the Week. Samantha Mewis of North Carolina Courage did the same in Week 16.
“It’s really exciting,” Raso said after scoring her brace during the postgame interviews at Memorial Stadium. “We come here and play against our biggest rival, so we want to win that game. It was very exciting, it was a great effort from our girls, we’re pumped about it.”
Raso scored both her goals in the second half. Her first, in the 49th minute, came after Reign goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer made a pass from outside the six-yard box to her defender Kristen McNabb. McNabb’s touch was heavy as Raso pressured high, and Raso swooped in and finished past Kopmeyer for the goal.
For Raso’s second in the 85th minute, Sinclair sent a long ball up from the midfield. While Reign defender Lauren Barnes went in for a diving clearance, Raso successfully trapped it and went in for a one-on-one against Kopmeyer. Despite an initial save, Raso calmly put away the rebound for the 2-0 lead and the eventual game-winning goal.
As for Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons, Raso’s high pressure and finishing reflected on his team as a whole. “I don’t think she can do what she did tonight, which is score a couple of goals, without every single person committing and flying in, giving everything that their body and mind had,” he said on Saturday. “I think the team really pressed hard, and really pressed high. Whether we were high, medium or low, we wanted to get pressure on them, we wanted to move the ball really well, we wanted to play attacking, aggressive soccer, and I thought we did that as a group, and as a result, there were many great individual performances.”
If there was one thing that Parsons was ready to make a promise on, it was Raso’s future: “We’re going to see a lot of Hayley Raso and hopefully for a very long time, we’re going to see her in Portland.”
The NWSL Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.