Ever since the founding of the NWSL, there has always been a hope that the Seattle Reign and Portland Thorns would have a rivalry that at least resembled the one between the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. In year 1, that didn't quite happen as the Thorns were the league's best team and the Reign one of the worst. Perhaps predictably, the Thorns won all four meetings that season.
Of course, a lot has changed since then, primarily with the Reign, who showed just how much on Saturday. Kim Little's 89th minute goal gave the Reign a 1-0 victory in Portland, running the Reign's record to 6-0-0.
It was a big win for the Reign, huge even. Not only was it their first-ever win over their biggest rivals and put them 10 points ahead of the second-place Thorns, but it also gave them 18 points, the same number they had all of last season. You can forgive them if they were a bit excited. Well, most of us could forgive them anyway...
Reign celebrating like they won a championship after being outplayed by depleted Thorns team. Good game...will be fun to see them again.— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) May 11, 2014
Never mind that the Reign were depleted as well as they were without internationals Megan Rapinoe (injury), Stephanie Cox (injury), Nahomi Kawasumi (international duty) and Carmelina Moscato (injury). Let's also ignore that Paulson probably failed his class in "act like you been there before." This was a legitimately big victory for a club that hasn't had a chance to really experience one in its relatively short history.
Somewhat predictably, social-media superstar Sydney Leroux responded in classic fashion.
Aw, @MerrittPaulson don't be bitter it's a bad look.— Sydney Leroux (@sydneyleroux) May 11, 2014
To be fair to Paulson, though, he did close with a fair point (and to his credit he hadn't deleted any of this even a few hours later):
Hopefully Reign fans ticked by my last tweet are supporting the team in person. Bring a friend. You guys have a good squad..they deserve it— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) May 11, 2014
So maybe it was all simply a well-executed ploy to get fans to rally around the Reign. I suppose that's possible. Either way, this rivalry got a needed kick in the pants on Saturday. Maybe it's just now getting ready to bloom.