How to sum up an action-packed 90 minute game? Easy, Alex Morgan got angry, transformed into the Hulk and smashed her way through defenders, Christine Sinclair assisted by turning on her turbo-boosters and Nikki Washington evolved into Robocop disallowing any opponent to touch the ball. Allie Long flew into a world of her own gaining the authority to knock everyone down because it's her field and trespassers were not allowed. For Seattle, Kaylyn Kyle and Jessica Fishlock became the Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsey of soccer, refusing to fall below a level of perfection, but it wasn't enough for the Reign, who fell 2-1 to the Thorns.
The two sides charged out of the gate for what was spectacle of athleticism at JELD-WEN Field. The match was unconventionally physical as both teams competed for possession, however Seattle lost focus in the first few minutes and failed to convert successful passes. Angie Kerr and Washington worked together to organize counterattacks and involve Morgan and Sinclair throughout the first half, although Morgan faded midway through the first half after a strong start. That left Portland to rely on Rachel Buehler early on to build the counterattack after Seattle's Jessica Fishlock pushed towards the Thorns net on countless occasions.
Seattle had set up Lauren Barnes, Emily Zurrer, Elli Reed and Kate Deines in the backline, a configuration which proved fruitful. Unfortunately, as Portland upped the pressure on the field, Seattle lost their composure, allowing Sinclair more time on the ball. Sinclair's first touch on the ball came in the fourth minute as she made a short burst down the center and into the box but was shut down by all four Seattle defenders. Shortly after, Washington nutmegged Deines on the corner of the box, but was denied any further progress when Keelin Winters hip checked her off the ball.
The physical play influenced both squads and could not be avoided as Seattle had to work harder to break down the overzealous Portland midfield. Teresa Noyola pushed Washington to the ground, but the referee awarded Seattle a free kick. On the other end of the field, Michelle Betos was acutely aware of Morgan and Sinclair's presence and in order to maintain an open line of view, Betos was regularly seen off her line snapping any loose balls.
Credit goes to Washington and Morgan for maintaining a strong line of communication but their primary obstacle was Fishlock, who performed at a beast-like level shutting down any passes between Washington and Morgan. Long received the first out of four yellow cards distributed throughout the match after she committed a foul on Kyle.
In the 26th minute, Washington sent a corner kick low into the box, which was picked up by Becky Edwards, but she could not direct her header past Betos. Later, Edwards's would defy gravity when she refused to fall down after Fishlock tackled her legs from behind.
Christine Nairn was the next player to fall victim to the yellow card after she pushed Kat Williamson down on the edge of the box. At this point Seattle already has accumulated two yellow cards (Elli Reed and Nairn). Portland was awarded one to Long.
A tremendous save by Deines was definitely meant for the highlight reel. Sinclair sent a pass to Morgan, who pushed deep into the Seattle core and found herself in a 1v3 situation against Barnes, Deines and Reed. Morgan sent an on-target strike towards the net as Betos lost her footing, but Deines was there to save the day as she kicked the ball out of the net.
The opening moment for the Thorns came when Sinclair manipulated a hand ball off a Seattle defender, which awarded Portland a free kick. Initially, Washington was setup to take the kick, but before she could, a tumble occurred in the box resulting in Morgan on the ground. After she reassured everyone she was okay, the play was reset and Washington took the kick. The ball landed comfortably at Marian Dougherty's head who put the ball past Betos to give the Thorns a lead.
The Thorns came out strong in the second half and put four shots on goal within the first five minutes. Washington blasted a shot at Betos, which the keeper could not control and the ball slipped passed the post for a Portland corner kick. Betos corrected her earlier blunder by shutting down the corner preventing Morgan getting her head on the ball.
However, when Morgan gets angry she gets even by disregarding Bruce Banner and turning into the Hulk. As the Hulk, she scores and it's misery for Seattle. Sinclair picked up a poor clearance from Emily Zurrer outside the box and sent a pass to Morgan who shot pas Betos to secure a 2-0 lead for Portland.
Seattle struggled to find confidence on the ball as Portland commanded the game. Long continued to dominate in her role and the Thorns refused to rest with a two-goal lead. Once again, Portland went on the attack as Morgan linked up with Nikki Marshall, who sent a pass to Sinclair, but Kyle ready and disrupted the play.
Washington brought the yellow card count to four after a hard foul in the 68th minute. It was a testy match, headlined by Fishlock and Washington, who developed a personal rivalry. They were involved in numerous collisions and Fishlock took to screaming at Washington after the two got tangled in the midfield.
However, it would not be long before Fishlock would taste redemption. In the 73rd minute, she hit a low strike which eluded Karina LeBlanc, but he remainder of the match did not see much action from either side as Portland held off Seattle to wrap up the win.