Portland Thorns FC close in on playoff berth with a 1-0 win over Houston Dash
Portland Thorns FC forward Tobin Heath. (Photo by Daniela Porcelli/Getty Images)

Portland Thorns FC bounced back at home by defeating the Houston Dash in the last NWSL match on Saturday night. Portland got back on the winning track after the North Carolina Courage handed the Thorns one of the worst defeats in team history by a 6-0 shellacking. While the Thorns are fighting for a home playoff match, the Houston Dash are on the brink of being eliminated from the playoff race. The Dash are now at the mercy of the three teams above them in the table. With the loss, Houston fall to a record of 1W-4L in their last five matches.

Heath breaks the deadlock

In the opening minutes of the second half, United States Women’s National team striker Tobin Heath opened the scoring to give Portland the lead. Ellie Carpenter’s throw in found Lindsey Horan inside Houston’s penalty area. Horan slid a pass to open Heath near the spot where Heath touched with her left foot, past Houston Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell, to the bottom left corner. The 48th minute goal was Heath’s third of the season with Horan picking up the assist. The goal was all Portland need to secure the win as they were threatening to score again. Portland would sweep the season series taking all three matches against Houston.

Houston strong defensive effort

Despite Portland’s domination, the Houston Dash had a strong defensive effort, holding the Thorns scoreless in the first half. Houston strikers Kealia Ohai and Rachel Daly had a few chances but were unable to convert. Campbell and her backline of Allysha Chapman, Amber Brooks, Ally Prisock and Haley Hanson keep the Thorns high powered offense to three shots on target the entire match. Midfielder Kristie Mewis had a chance for the equalizer in the 53rd minute but Portland goalkeeper Adrianna Franch made the save. Christine Narin found an open Mewis on the left side of Portland’s penalty area but was unable to convert. Substitute Cecelia Kizer had a last minute chance when the ball found her alone near Portland’s six yard box but Kizer's first touch failed her. The ball bounced harmlessly toward Franch ending the match.

Kristie Mewis (19) and Rachel Daly (3) do their signature handshake. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Kristie Mewis (19) and Rachel Daly (3) do their signature handshake. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Portland Thorns FC improved their record to their record to 11W-5L-6D holding on to the third spot in the table with 39 points. Next the Thorns travel to Tacoma, Washington to face the Reign FC in the Cascadia Derby. The match will be broadcast on ESPN 2 at 2 PM EST Saturday September 29. Houston Dash will stay fall to a 7W-11L-4D stay in the 7th spot with 25 points. Houston will have their fourth match in 13 days when they welcome the Washington Spirit into BBVA Stadium on Wednesday September 25. ESPN 2 will broadcast the match at 9 PM EST.

Statistics:

Score: 1-0, min. 48, Heath.

Portland Thorns FC: Franch; Carpenter (Reynolds, min. 90+4), Sonnett, Menges, Klingenburg, Horan, Brynjarsdóttir, Sinclair, Raso (Crnogorčevic, min. 79), Purce (Foord, min. 81), Heath.

Houston Dash: Campbell; Daly, Chapman, Ohai (Fields, min. 58), Hanson, Nairn (Kizer, min. 70), Huerta, Schmidt, Mewis (Privett, min. 87), Brooks, Prisock.

Disciplinary: None

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