Morgan injured, Thorns lose, still clinch playoff berth - KPTV - FOX 12

Morgan injured, Thorns lose, still clinch playoff berth

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Portland Thorns FC conceded the game-winning goal to midfielder Heather O'Reilly in the 84th minute of a 2-1 loss against the Boston Breakers before 3,012 fans at Dilboy Stadium on Wednesday night. Despite the loss, Portland still qualified for the National Women's Soccer League Playoffs because of other results around the league.

Portland earned a postseason berth as the Washington Spirit tallied a weather-shortened 1-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars and the Western New York Flash notched a 1-0 win over Seattle Reign FC. The results mean all four berths in the NWSL Playoffs are locked up with two games remaining in the season as Thorns FC, FC Kansas City, Sky Blue FC and Western New York are headed to the postseason.

Playoff seeding will be determined by results in the final two games as FC Kansas City currently sits in first place with 38 points. Portland, Sky Blue FC and Western New York are tied with 34 points, but Western New York holds the tiebreaker for second place ahead of Saturday's games.

Thorns FC, who face Western New York on Saturday, are in third place, maintaining the tiebreaker over Sky Blue FC on overall goal differential. The two highest-seeded teams host semifinal matches on Aug. 24, while the highest seed to reach the championship will host the final on Aug. 31.

Eight minutes into Wednesday's match, Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan sustained a left knee injury after falling awkwardly following a challenge from a Boston defender. While initial reports were encouraging, Morgan will undergo further evaluation tomorrow.

Portland (10-6-4, 34pts) captured a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute following a goal by substitute forward Tiffany Weimer. The goal, Weimer's first goal of the season for Thorns FC, provided Portland with the lead after a scoreless first half that featured a handful of scoring opportunities that were denied by Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and Boston defender Cat Whitehill.

Weimer finished with a team-leading five shots, including four on goal in 77 minutes of action. Forward Christine Sinclair attempted three shots and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made five saves as Thorns FC suffered its second straight loss.

Whitehill, Boston's captain and interim head coach, denied a shot from Sinclair with a goal line block in the 26th minute while Naeher saved a close-range effort from defender Nikki Marshall in the 42nd minute. Two rebound attempts by Weimer were cleared away by Boston defender Julie King. Earlier, an apparent goal in the 16th minute by forward Danielle Foxhoven was called back because the striker was ruled offside.

The Breakers (7-7-6, 27pts), who were eliminated from playoff contention despite the win, registered the game-tying goal from midfielder Lianne Sanderson in the 68th minute. Sanderson collected a through pass from forward Sydney Leroux in the box and slotted a low shot past LeBlanc.

Nearly 20 minutes later, O'Reilly netted the game-winning goal for the Breakers in the 84th minute. Settling a ball played over the top of the Thorns FC defense by Whitehill, O'Reilly fired a low drive past LeBlanc to the far right post. 

Portland continues its three-game road trip on Saturday against the Western New York Flash at Sahlen's Stadium; kick off is set for 4:35 p.m. (Pacific). A live webstream of the match will be available via www.portlandthornsfc.com.

 

Notes:

  • Thorns FC defender Casey Ramirez made her first start of the season on Wednesday night.
  • Recently acquired defender Tina Ellertson made her NWSL debut as an 86th-minute substitute, replacing midfielder Meleana Shim.
  • Defender Kathryn Williamson extended her team-leading streak of consecutive minutes played to 1,800. Williamson has played every minute of every match this season for Thorns FC.
  • Williamson, defender Nikki Marshall and midfielder Allie Long have started all 20 games for Portland in 2013.
  • Portland's seven goals conceded on the road ranks as the lowest total among all NWSL teams.
  • Wednesday's loss marked the first time this season Portland has lost a match when scoring the first goal. Thorns FC are 8-1-1 when scoring first.

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