Sky Blue FC falls short to Portland Thorns FC in NWSL season finale, 2-1.

rampone plays all

by TOM SLATER

It wasn’t the ending anyone was hoping for — unless you’re a Portland Thorns FC fan.

The visiting teams used one goal in the first half and two more in the second half to beat host Sky Blue FC, 3-1. The victory gave Portland (12-3-5, 41 points) the National Women’s Soccer League’s Supporter’s Shield as the team with the best regular season record. The win also gave them just enough points to edge the Washington Spirit, who lost to Chicago Red Stars Saturday.

The NWSL playoffs begin this weekend with Portland facing Western New York Flash and the Spirit hosting the Red Stars.

For the Sky Blue FC (7-8-5) the match was a microcosm of their season — a great start with a finish that was just a bit short. With a load of lineup changes and a rookie head coach in Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC were in playoff contention for most of the year before being eliminated early this month.

The game also marked another milestone for captain Christie Rampone. Rampone, who retired from international play shortly before the Olympics, played every minute of every game this year at age 41. She is only the second Sky Blue FC player to achieve this, joining CoCo Goodson who did the same in 2013. It is unclear whether Rampone will retire from Sky Blue after this season. She said earlier this year she will make a decision in the off-season.

With the game tied at one after the opening 45 minutes, the Thorns went ahead for good in the 57th minute. Amadine Henry picked up a loose ball around midfield and made a 10 yard before hitting Nadia Nadim in stride. Nadim sent a perfect cross to the center of the goal where Lindsey Horan ran in between two Sky Blue defenders and nailed a header past Caroline Casey.

The Thorns put the nail in the coffin in the 85th minute when reserve Hayley Raso sent a low cross to Allie Long. Long spun and launched a shot into the upper corner for the final score.

Sky Blue took the early lead in the first half. With just six minutes gone by, a nifty give-and-go between Sam Kerr and Tasha Kai resulted in the Australian going in alone on goal. Katherine Reynolds caught Kerr on the final touch, forcing a corner kick. Kelley O’Hara sent a perfect corner to far post where Kai easily got there and sent a head ball past Michelle Betos for the goal, her fourth of the year.

In the 41st minute, Portland came level. Heath took a free kick from about 35 yards out on the left side and sent a high ball toward the center of the goal. Allie Long was unmarked and headed it past Casey for the equalizer. Heath’s assist was her 10th of the year, an NWSL record.

  • Nobody cares

    Nobody cares.