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With late goal, Seattle reigns over Thorns

Saturday’s match at Providence Park featured arguably the two best goalkeepers in the world in Nadine Angerer of the Portland Thorns FC and Hope Solo of the Seattle Reign FC.

Angerer and Solo did not disappoint.

Both made the spectacular plays and the routine plays to keep the ball out of the back of the net nearly the entire match.

In the end, though, Angerer was hung out to dry on a breakaway in the 89th minute, and Reign midfielder Kim Little put the shot away to give the Seattle a 1-0 National Women's Soccer League victory before an announced crowd of 14,182.

“It was a battle of the goalkeepers,” Thorns coach Paul Riley said.

The loss was the first of the year for the Thorns (2-1-2, 8 points).

The Reign are far and away the best side in the NWSL so far with a 6-0-0 record (18 points).

“The one mistake was a big mistake,” Riley said. “It was a huge mistake unfortunately. We played the better football. But, they’re good. They’re top of the league for a reason.

Little intercepted a Thorns pass in Portland’s defensive third and raced toward the goal with only Angerer to beat. When she was 10 yards out, Little feigned as if she was going to the right and got Angerer off her feet. Then, with a wide-open net, Little put the ball just inside the right post, to give the Reign the victory.

“I’m totally frustrated,” Angerer said. “It’s sad. They got the goal in the 89th minute. and we lost one-nil.”

Said Riley: “I give Little a lot of credit. She got around one of the two best goalkeepers in the world.”

Solo came into the match having allowed two goals in five matches, with 11 saves. She finished the afternoon with eight more saves.

Angerer came in having allowed three goals in four matches

against 12 saves. She finished the afternoon with four saves.

The Thorns finished the match with 17 shots and eight shots on goal. The Reign had 14 shots and put five balls on frame.

The first half was fairly even, with neither side dominating the possession.

The Thorns finished the half with seven shots, while the Reign had six.

Solo made three saves in the half. Her biggest play came preventing a dangerous cross in the 30th minute.

Solo came off her line to stop a cross by Thorns striker Christine Sinclair from reaching Portland midfielder Allie Long. As she got to the ball, Solo collided with Long. The ball popped out of her arms momentarily, but Solo was able to grab it from where she lay on the ground and thwart the Thorns' attack.

Angerer quickly countered with her one save in the first half.

In the 37th minute, Angerer made a diving save on a wide-open look by Reign midfielder Danielle Foxhoven. The former Portland Thorns player had a clear look at goal from 15 yards. She sent a low ball toward the left post, but Angerer was there to keep it from the back of the net.

The second half continued to be even, as both goalkeepers kept the offense from doing any damage.

In the 47th minute, Solo got a huge assist from Seattle defender Elli Reed to keep the match scoreless.

The Thorns took a corner kick form the right side and sent the ball into the box. It found Sinclair eight yards out. She sent a vicious header toward the right post. Solo was beaten, and the ball was destined for the back of the net before Reed stuck out her foot and stopped the shot.

Solo made a terrific save in the 68th minute on a header by Thorns striker Jessica McDonald from five yards. McDonald’s shot was headed just below the crossbar before Solo jumped up and batted it away.

In the 81st minute, when Reign striker Beverly Goebel had a clear shot from six yards, Angerer positioned herself perfectly and smothered the shot, keeping the match scoreless.

The Thorns last chance to score came on a shot by Sinclair in the 83rd minute.

Sinclair dribbled the ball to the left side of the six-yard box. She was marked closely by two Reign defenders, but she had a clear look at the goal. Sinclair blasted a shot toward the near post, but Solo was there.

“We created a lot of chances,” Sinclair said. “Hope made some big saves.”

The Thorns looked as if they were going to finish the match in a draw before Little spoiled the brilliant goalkeeping performance of Angerer.

Portland will have a quick turnaround, as the Thorns travel to Houston to play the Dash on Wednesday.

“It’s a tough turnaround, especially going to Houston,” Riley said. “Houston isn’t an easy trip. But they’re playing tomorrow, and they won’t get as much rest as we will. We’ve got to get some of the other players ready.”