NWSL Wrap: Raso scores in Portland's crucial win

Hayley Raso got on the scoresheet as Portland Thorns overcame Orlando Pride, in a match that featured five Westfield Matildas.

Elsewhere, Lydia Williams kept a clean sheet as Seattle Reign consolidated second spot on the NWSL ladder, while Clare Polkinghorne’s Houston Dash stayed in the hunt for the finals with a gritty win in New Jersey.

READ: Kerr's goal saves Chicago

It’s all here in our NWSL Wrap from the three matches played on Sunday (AEST).

ORLANDO PRIDE v PORTLAND THORNS

The match of the round in the NWSL pitted third against fourth and it was the Thorns who came away with a valuable 2-0 win in Florida.

There were four Westfield Matildas in the starting line-ups among the two squads, with Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond in the Orlando side, while Raso and Ellie Carpenter started for Portland, who also had Caitlin Foord on the bench.

But it was Brisbane Roar's Raso who featured heavily in the outcome of the match, with her speed and forward runs causing havoc to the Pride’s defence.

The 23-year-old hit the woodwork twice for the Thorns in the first half, including on 16 minutes when she capitalised on a sloppy backpass from Kennedy only to see her shot come back off the post.

An evenly-contested match swung in Portland’s favour in the second half as Lindsey Horan opened the scoring on 47 minutes, her 11th goal of the campaign to shoot to the top of the golden boot standings.

Six minutes later Raso got the goal her endeavour deserved when she broke through the Pride’s backline and finished with aplomb from the edge of the box.

The result sees the Thorns leapfrog Orlando into third spot on 32 points ahead of their clash with Sam Kerr’s Chicago Red Stars next weekend.

Orlando faces a tough match-up against NWSL favourites North Carolina Courage.

UTAH ROYALS v SEATTLE REIGN

Westfield Matildas keeper Lydia Williams has kept another clean sheet to help her Seattle Reign pick up a 1-0 win over Katrina Gorry’s Royals in Utah.

Williams made three key stops for the visitors in a flawless display, with Jess Fishlock’s 48th-minute header proving the difference.

Gorry played 55 minutes for Utah but was unable to inspire them to victory, snapping the club’s two-game unbeaten run to put a serious dent in their finals hopes.

It was a crucial win for second-placed Seattle, who ended a run of four games without a win to extend their lead to third spot by four points.

Westfield Matildas defender Steph Catley again missed the match for the Reign due to personal reasons.

SKY BLUE FC v HOUSTON DASH

The Dash kept their own faint hopes of a top-four spot alive with a much-needed 2-1 win over strugglers Sky Blue FC.

Two goals from striker Rachel Daly was enough for Houston to edge past their hosts, who did equalise midway through the second half through Madison Tiernan.

But a handball by Raquel Rodriguez 17 minutes from time gave the Dash a penalty which Daly converted for her 10th goal of the campaign.

While Kyah Simon missed the match for Houston with an ankle injury, Westfield Matildas defender Clare Polkinghorne got through another 90 minutes.

The Dash, who next face the Washington Spirit on Saturday (AEST), are four points behind fourth-placed Orlando Pride, although they do have a game in hand.

NWSL LADDER

*Teams in bold contain Westfield Matildas players

  1. North Carolina Courage – played 21, 50 points, +28
  2. Seattle Reign – played 20, 36 points, +8
  3. Portland Thorns – played 20, 32 points, +8
  4. Orlando Pride – played 21, 30 points, -1
  5. Chicago Red Stars – played 19, 29 points, +4
  6. Utah Royals – played 21, 28 points, -3
  7. Houston Dash – played 20, 26 points, -6
  8. Washington Spirit – played 20, 10 points, -17
  9. Sky Blue FC – played 18, 4 points, -21