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Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji

The 38th meeting across all competitions between Portland and OL Reign tagged “Cascadia Rivalry” ended 2-0 in favour of the Thorns in front of a sellout crowd at Providence Park on Sunday.

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First-half goals from Hina Sugita and Morgan Weaver lifted the host to a comfortable victory.

From distance in the 30th minute, Sam Coffey served a Thorns FC free kick into the box. Rocky Rodríguez got onto the end of it at the back post and volleyed the ball across the goal line. Hina Sugita finished the play from inside of the six-yard box, putting the ball into the back of the net.

Six minutes later, Meghan Klingenberg played a diagonal cross into the box. An OL Reign defender attempted to clear the ball with a header, but it landed at the back post for Morgan Weaver, who fired a volley into the opposite corner of the net.

With the win, Thorns FC improved to 32 points to move back to the top of the NWSL standings with three matches remaining in regular season play.

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Portland holds a two-point lead over San Diego Wave FC (30 points) in second place and NJ/NY Gotham FC (30 points) in fourth place.

Thorns FC will host San Diego at Providence Park on September 30 and Gotham FC in their regular-season finale on October 7 before wrapping up the regular season on the road against Angel City FC on October 15. Notably,

Portland holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against every team in the league due to a +15 goal differential.

Meanwhile...

For the first time in club history, NJ/NY Gotham FC surpassed the 50,000 fans milestone during a single season, when the club returned to Red Bull Arena on Sunday to the embrace of 6,202 in attendance for the first home match of newly-crowned 2023 FIFA World Cup champion Esther González, and it did not disappoint.

Fresh off her proper club introduction in Manhattan this week, González scored two second-half goals to lead her new club to a 2-0 home victory over Washibgton Spirit. González is just the sixth player in NWSL history to score a brace in one of her first two league appearances and the second since 2015 (Sophia Smith - 2021).

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In the 65th minute, González brought Gotham FC fans to their feet with the first goal of the night. The Spanish forward slotted the ball into the back of the net after the ball fell to her feet from a deflection. 

González was not finished yet. Five minutes later, the forward struck again to double Gotham FC’s lead after Lynn Williams delivered a pinpoint pass across the goal into the path of González’s feet. The World Cup champion took a prep touch from the top of the six and shot the ball past Kingsbury into the right netting to bring the score to 2-0.

In the tight race to the NWSL Playoffs, no team can clinch or be eliminated from playoff contention this weekend. Gotham FC earns three important points and distances themselves from the Washington Spirit after the two sides entered the match separated by just one point. 

Gotham FC will return to action on October 1, as the club plays host to the Houston Dash before October 15 will mark Gotham FC captain Ali Krieger’s final regular season home match of her career at Red Bull Arena.

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