Thorns clinch playoff berth with 2-1 win over Sky Blue FC
The Thorns are the third team to clinch a spot in the postseason

Portland Thorns FC clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday night with a 2-1 win over Sky Blue FC in front of a crowd of 17,986 fans at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon.

The win improves the Thorns to 10-6-6 with 36 points. They are the third team to clinch one of the four playoff spots, joining the North Carolina Courage and Seattle Reign FC in the postseason. It’s the third straight postseason appearance for the Thorns, and fifth in six NWSL seasons.

Sky Blue FC are still in search of their first win of the season as they dropped to 0-15-5 (5 points) with the loss. They have four games remaining in the season.

The Thorns took the lead in the 13th minute when Christine Sinclair converted a penalty kick for her ninth goal of the season. Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan earned the penalty kick after a collision with Erica Skroski just at the edge of the penalty area.

Sinclair stepped up to take the penalty, sending it to the left of the goal and catching Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan unable to make a move towards the ball.

The Thorns doubled the lead in the second half on a set piece goal. Sky Blue FC’s Madison Tiernan fouled Hayley Raso just outside the penalty box on the right wing. Tobin Heath sent the ball into the box and in the direction of Horan, but the ball went over everyone and bounced into the net at the far post.

Sky Blue FC had a good chance to get on the scoresheet in the 75th minute on a Savannah McCaskill corner kick, but the crossbar denied Madison Tiernan’s header.

Sky Blue did eventually get their goal in the 85th minute on a strike from midfielder Sarah Killion, her first score of the season.

The Thorns clinch a playoff spot as only two teams have a max possible points of 36 or higher  — the Chicago Red Stars (max 40) and Orlando Pride (max 36). The Thorns hold the tiebreakers with both teams, and it’s not possible for all three teams to end up tied at 36 points.

The match was played amidst smoke in the Portland area due to wildfires. The NWSL added extra hydration breaks (at 15′, 30′, 60′ and 75′) and had oxygen tanks on the sidelines due to poor air quality.

The Thorns controlled possession in the match 59.3% to 40.7%. Both teams held high shot totals — 20 for the Thorns and 14 for Sky Blue FC. Portland had the advantage in shots on goal, 9-5.

Thorns forward Caitlin Foord earned her first start of the season in her fourth appearance since making her season debut on August 5.

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