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Three stats: Seattle Reign vs. Portland Thorns

A deeper dive on the Reign's scoreless rivalry draw.

Last Updated
4 min read
Mike Russell / Sounder at Heart

Last Sunday, Seattle Reign hosted the Portland Thorns in a Cascadia rivalry match. It was a defensive game, and neither side pressured their opponents much, resulting in a scoreless draw in front of 9,052 fans.

As an indication of the defensive organization and possession that both teams saw, the ball was in play for 66 minutes and 12 seconds, the most in any NWSL match this season.

Reign end losing streak with a disappointing scoreless draw
The defense finally put in a solid 90 minute shift, but the attack lacked bite.

Here are three other stats from the scoreless draw.


Starting at centerback in place of Alana Cook, Phoebe McClernon shut down any threatening Thorns attack. She had 14 defensive actions – clearances (8), tackles (1), interceptions (1), and blocks (4) – the most for either team in the match.

McClernon's big strength is that she's so versatile on the backline. She's two-footed and can be just as effective at fullback as centerback. She showed how valuable she can be in central positions on Sunday and made a big case for more starts there. At the same time, she may continue to be asked to play wide – especially against teams that have strong wing players.

"You know, with Phoebe, she is physical, she's dominant in that way. The fact that she can play fullback, she can play centerback, in any four positions has been a real blessing for the team. But I know for her, she wants to continue to solidify those positions, but you saw today that she's willing to do whatever it takes for this team," head coach Laura Harvey said after the match.


While the Reign had a strong defensive performance, they were unable to create much on the offensive end. The team produced just 0.5 expected goals (xG) off of 10 shots.

Laura Harvey opted to start Jordyn Huitema on the left wing, with Bethany Balcer starting at center forward. The intention, as Harvey confirmed after the game, was for Balcer to drag the centerbacks out and have Veronica Latsko and Huitema "be effective on the line." As you can see from the passing map below, Huitema often tucked inside while Balcer dropped deeper to combine with teammates.

Harvey admits that the Reign weren't always effective in the first half, but their best chances came from this offensive movement. One resulted in Huitema getting a good opportunity in the 43rd minute, while she was fouled on the other chance in the second half — although the referee didn't blow the whistle.

Tziarra King provided some offensive spark when she came into the match in the 62nd minute, combining with teammates in and around the box on the right wing. She finished tied with a team-high three shot-creating actions, but it wasn't quite enough to get a goal.

"I think we just have to make sure when we have performances like that defensively, we show the quality in the final third to get the finish. But, you've heard me say that before," Harvey said after the game.


Without Sophia Smith in particular — but also Sam Coffey and Olivia Moultrie — the Portland Thorns had just 11 touches in their attacking penalty box, their fewest all season. They also had their lowest expected goals total all season at 0.71 xG. With just one shot on target, the Thorns had a post-shot expected goals total of 0.08 xG. In short, Claudia Dickey was not asked to do much at all.

With the huge caveat that Smith is a game-changer, and it's hard to say what the defense would have looked like with her in the match, a clean sheet was still a much-needed result for the Reign.

"I feel like with how things are going, and Laura touched on this as well, it's important to take the positive out of this game and that's a clean sheet, so I'm proud of us for that," Ryanne Brown said after the match.

It wasn't simply a case of the Thorns having limited possession. Portland actually had their fourth-most touches all season, but more of those came in their defensive half. The Reign did well to keep the play in front of them.

The Reign have another opportunity to get results in front of home fans this weekend. On Sunday, June 23, they host Racing Louisville in their annual Pride Month celebration. The match kicks off at 3 PM PT and will air on KONG-TV locally and stream on NWSL+. Here's hoping that the completion of the sale will give the team a much-needed boost heading into the second half of the season.