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Portland Thorns play Washington Spirit to scoreless draw in regular season finale

The third-place Thorns will travel to face the second-place Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL semifinals.

The Portland Thorns couldn’t secure a win for their fans Saturday night in their final home game of 2019.

The Thorns (11-6-7, 40 points) outshot the Washington Spirit (9-8-7, 34 points) 21-5, but still settled for a scoreless draw in their regular season finale in front of 24,521 fans at Providence Park. Portland, who has led the NWSL in attendance numbers since the league’s inception in 2013, averaged 20,098 fans per game this season.

Still, the draw didn’t impact Portland’s position in the standings.

The Thorns clinched the third seed in the NWSL before even taking the field Saturday as fourth-place Reign FC drew the Orlando Pride 2-2 earlier in the day. For the first time since 2016, the Thorns won’t be playing at home during the postseason. The third-place Thorns will travel to face the second-place Chicago Red Stars in the semifinals of the 2019 NWSL Playoffs on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 12:30 p.m. PT at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois.

Portland has matched up well against Chicago in the past. The Thorns are 10-1-9 all-time against the Red Stars and 2-0-1 against Chicago this year.

With players returning from international duty and playoff seeding no longer on the line, Thorns coach Mark Parsons made some key lineup rotations Saturday. Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Midge Purce started the game on the bench, while Hayley Raso and Ellie Carpenter got the night off. Star midfielder Lindsey Horan, who suffered a concussion in a game against the Reign on Sept. 29, returned to the lineup.

The Thorns had hoped to give their fans an energetic win to close out the regular season before heading on the road for the entirety of the postseason.

Instead, Portland and Washington spent a lot of time passing the ball around midfield as the two teams battled for possession during a tedious and physical first half at Providence Park. The Thorns outshot the Spirit 8-4 (3-0 on target) in the first 45 minutes as neither team came all that close to scoring.

Christine Sinclair got a foot to a cross in the ninth minute, but put her shot wide. Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe then came out to knock away a cross in the 40th minute that was headed for Sinclair’s feet. The ball bounced to Horan, but her shot was saved by Bledsoe.

Portland picked things up early in the second half. Bledsoe made a good save to deny Thorns midfielder Andressinha in the 49th minute. Andressinha got the rebound, but put her shot wide. Bledsoe then made a tremendous save to knock a curving shot from Tobin Heath over the bar in the 84th minute. Purce had a wide open look in the 88th minute, but somehow put her close-range shot high.

Despite having opportunities to score, the Thorns put just five shots on target and couldn’t find the go-ahead goal as they were shut out for the fourth time in the last five games and the seventh time this season. Portland will head into the postseason having scored just once in its last six games.
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