Whenever Reign FC and Portland Thorns FC meet on the pitch, the women’s soccer world pays attention. Last night’s 1-0 victory at Providence Park was no exception. As the match went final in Portland, Oregon last night, fans of either team across the Atlantic Ocean in France for the FIFA World Cup, were just waking up to see the result themselves. Among the interested parties in the match were the United States Women’s National Team.
Every member of the USWNT plays in the NWSL, with the Thorns having three representatives (Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, Emily Sonnett) and Reign FC having two (Megan Rapinoe, Allie Long). In their press conference this morning before Sunday’s World Cup Final against the reigning UEFA Women’s European Champions Netherlands, Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe revealed her and Long had some banter for their USWNT teammates/Portland rivals.
"Me and Allie were talking so much shit this morning. It was so good. Very quiet from the Portland players, by the way." — Megan Rapinoe, referencing the @ReignFC win over the Thorns last night.#NWSL rivalries are forever, even at #FIFAWWC press conferences.— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) July 6, 2019
For those that need a reminder, both Reign FC players at the FIFA World Cup have deep ties to Portland.
Megan Rapinoe played her college soccer at the University of Portland, a program that knows a thing or two about producing quality players in both women’s and men’s soccer. When the NWSL began play in 2013, Rapinoe actually had Portland as her first-choice team when national team players were being allocated. She already established a base there and didn’t want to pack up and move again. It’s understandable. Despite her initial frustration in not going where she wanted, it’s safe to say she’s grown fond of the Puget Sound region ever since.
For Allie Long, when the NWSL began, Portland had been the only club home she knew. Prior to joining Reign FC in January 2018 via trade, Long had played for the Thorns and was a mainstay in their midfield. To date, Long is second on their all-time goalscorers list, behind Christine Sinclair. Long is one of eleven players* to date that have played for both teams of the NWSL’s version of the Cascadia rivalry. Her Reign FC teammates, defender, Steph Catley, forward Jodie Taylor, goalkeeper Michelle Betos and forward Ifeoma Onumonu are also part of that eleven.
*Full list of players that have played for Reign FC and Portland Thorns FC in the NWSL era: Allie Long, Michelle Betos, Ifeomoa Onumonu, Steph Catley, Jodie Taylor, Adelaide Gay, Amber Brooks, Jessica McDonald, Danielle Foxhoven, Alyssa Kleiner, Kaylyn Kyle
Last night’s match was the 21st meeting all-time between the two teams, including last year’s playoff semifinal that Portland won. Reign FC’s victory now evens up the all-time record between the two at 9 wins, 9 losses, and 3 draws. In the inaugural season of NWSL, Portland dominated the matches, sweeping the three-match season series. Reign FC would be able to avenge those loses in the following seasons and while coaches and players have come and gone, the rivalry remains fierce as ever. Reign FC picking up the latest win and surely Rapinoe’s banter in another continent won’t be forgotten the next time the two teams meet.
The next time Reign FC and Portland Thorns hook up will be next month as the next two matches are at Cheney Stadium. A Wednesday evening match on August 7 is the next installment of the rivalry. And while there is still a lot of soccer to play, Reign FC’s regular season home finale against Portland on Sunday, September 29 could be one that influences the NWSL Playoff picture.
And remember, that regular season home finale match will be on national TV as part of the recently announced TV deal with ESPN.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you the NWSL’s version of the Cascadia rivalry is short on action. And banter.