Shots and rain filled Providence Park on Friday.
But neither the OL Reign nor Portland Thorns FC could maneuver the elements to find a score in their Cascadia matchup, finishing in a goalless draw. Reign keeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce finished with six saves.
“It was very Portland-Seattle,” Reign coach Laura Harvey said. “Frantic, hectic. We did some really good things at times. … The biggest thing was we showed a really good mentality of wanting to try and push them (Thorns).”
The sides played each other twice in the NWSL Challenge Cup group stage earlier this spring. The matchup at Lumen Field in March finished in a draw while forward Rose Lavelle had the game-winner in the 74th minute in April at Providence Park.
Friday’s derby was the Reign’s fourth in the past 13 days. Last week’s games were against the Washington Spirit at Audi Field and hosting Racing Louisville to a draw at Lumen on Sunday.
“I’m not going to lie, it sucks a little bit especially since Portland didn’t play,” Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock told the television broadcast at halftime. The Thorns last played April 30, defeating the Kansas City Current 3-0 at Providence Park. “We’re just going to push through with that fatigue. It’s just mentality at the end of the day.”
The Reign (0-1-2) have a weeklong break before hosting the Spirit at Lumen Field on May 22.
“You know it’s a brutal schedule when every other coach you play talks about it,” Harvey said. “Now we’ve got actually some time to breathe a little bit and we can actually train, which we haven’t been able to do the last two or three weeks. We’ll have a few days off, and then we’ll get back at it.”
For long stretches in the opening half-hour the Reign were chasing and defending deep in the box. Bethany Balcer headed one shot clear off the line in the 27th minute. The Reign were able to keep possession in their final third as the half progressed. They were awarded a corner kick in the 32nd minute that found Fishlock’s right foot, but the strike hit the post.
Portland midfielder Christine Sinclair found a channel in the 41st minute to test the Reign’s defense again, this time with Sophia Smith on the run. Tullis-Joyce met Smith high in the box for a sliding kick save.
Smith had a smooth pass to Morgan Weaver in the 52nd minute for another look at goal. The attempt was blocked by Reign fullback Lu Barnes and cleared by center back Alana Cook.
Reign defender Sofia Huerta had a pinpoint cross to Balcer for a header in the 65th minute. Thorns keeper Bella Bixby punched the ball over the crossbar for the save. She had three overall.
Weaver (83rd) and teammate Janine Beckie (84th) had back-to-back chances that Tullis-Joyce miraculously saved.
“(Phallon) seems to be growing into every game,” Reign original Megan Rapinoe said of Tullis-Joyce, who’s in her first full NWSL season. “For goalkeepers, often their development takes a little bit more time. You can just tell in training, she’s constantly making those saves, which is irritating.
“She’s getting more comfortable with her feet and always coming up with big saves. She’s a gamer in that way. It gives us a lot of confidence. We know good teams like Portland are going to get chances, and we need Phallon to come up with those saves.”
The Reign started the week with positive news as Rapinoe was cleared from the injured list. The U.S. international had a nagging calf injury and will play limited minutes. She entered in the 67th minute on Friday.
Portland (1-0-1) was without forward Marissa Everett (hip) and midfielder Crystal Dunn (maternity leave).
“I feel good; it’s great to be back out there,” Rapinoe said. “This has been a long couple of weeks with a really bad schedule and not a lot of rest. I’m super proud of the effort and performance out there.”