NWSL Game of the Week: OL Reign vs. Portland Thorns

NWSL Game of the Week

For the second time this season, the Cascadia rivalry kicked off at Lumen Field between the OL Reign and Portland Thorns. The game ended in a 2–2 draw but was far from boring.

The debut of the recently signed Tobin Heath is still pending for the Reign, and despite international players being unavailable, the teams played to the potential the rivalry perceives.

Heath was named to the bench for the Reign, but head coach Laura Harvey is taking things slow with the forward. Kim Little and Jess Fishlock held down the midfield while Bethany Balcer was a game changer up top. Portland saw youngster Olivia Moultrie start in the midfield along with Sam Coffey and Hina Sugita.

Match highlights

The four-goal game featured an own goal from the Reign and rookie Olivia Athens getting her first start and first goal of the season.

In the 12th minute, the scoring began. After the ball was sent into the box, Reign defender Phoebe McClernon took an unfortunate slip and kicked the ball into her own net. The action was ruled an own-goal, and the Thorns went up 1–0.

Just 59 seconds later, the Reign equalized. Athens got the ball after a defensive deflection and slotted the ball to the near post, tieing the game.

In the 60th minute, Portland’s Meghan Klingenberg crossed the ball perfectly to Sugita’s feet. She then took one touch to put the ball past a diving Phallon Tullis-Joyce. The Thorns were now up 2–1.

For the final goal of the evening, Balcer had the equalizer. Veronica Latsko sent a fantastic ball into the box, where Balcer expertly flicked the ball into the back of the net.

The match ended in a 2–2 tie, splitting the points between the two rivals.

Player of the Match

The Player of the Match would have to be Bethany Balcer.

With a late equalizer in an important game for the team, Balcer came in clutch and played well throughout the game. She’s had an outstanding season so far and has more room to grow. Currently, she has four goals on the season and is a crucial player while the internationals are away.

What’s up next?

The Portland Thorns play Gotham FC on July 16, while the Reign play the Kansas City Current on July 17. The Thorns kick off at 10:30 p.m. eastern, and the Reign kick off at 7:00 p.m. eastern. Both matches are available for US viewers on Paramount+.

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