By MIKE McCALL
Two numbers to sum up the Portland Thorns’ current situation: 293, and 28.5.
The first represents the number of minutes since the club last scored (against Seattle on June 16), which was raised by a 2-0 defeat to Boston this weekend. The second is the percentage of games the Thorns (8-4-2) have lost this season, putting them in second place in the National Women’s Soccer League standings, four points behind Sky Blue FC with a game in hand.
That loss percentage may not seem like the end of the world — and it isn’t — but to put it in perspective, there are six MLS clubs that can claim better numbers in that regard. Comparing across leagues is tricky, but it does hammer home the point that the Thorns have been much less dominant than what was expected when rosters were announced and Portland was anointed as the most dominant pro soccer team in America.
And now that the Thorns are closer to fourth place (three points) than they are to first (four points), it’s very far from a sure thing that Alex Morgan & Co. will finish this season with a trophy above their heads.
For a closer look, here’s a complete rundown of the weekend’s action, along with our updated Power Rankings:
OCAMPO NETS SBFC WINNER
Monica Ocampo ensured that Sky Blue FC would take advantage of Portland’s slip-up with a 74th-minute goal that powered SBFC past the Washington Spirit, 1-0.
SBFC out-shot Washington 11-5 and allowed just one shot on goal in the victory, stretching their lead atop the standings from one point to four and keeping the Spirit grounded in last.
Slipping past cellar-dwelling Washington wasn’t a mammoth achievement, but it was a nice way to get back on track for SBFC, which entered with just one win in its previous five.
LEROUX OUTPACES PORTLAND
The Breakers continued their resurgence in a big way on Saturday, riding two Sydney Leroux goals to a 2-0 victory over the Thorns.
Leroux took over the top spot on the league scoring chart thanks to Heather O’Reilly-assisted strikes in the 11th and 39th minutes, giving Boston seven points in its last three games — including wins over the top two teams.
At the other end, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher stuffed Christine Sinclair and stopped Alex Morgan twice late to preserve the win, which pulled the Breakers within four points of Western New York for the fourth and final playoff spot.
FCKC, FLASH FINISH SCORELESS
The marquee matchup of the weekend pitted FC Kansas City against the Flash in a battle for third place, but neither team could find the net in a 0-0 draw.
Still, they’re probably happy taking a point each and inching closer to second-place Portland. FCKC now sits just a point back of the Thorns while the Flash are three behind — putting them within striking distance of the NWSL’s upper crust that had previously seemed out of reach.
SBI NWSL POWER RANKINGS
Here’s how they stand:
1. Sky Blue FC (9-3-3, 30 pts) – Has hit the skids a bit recently, but that four-point cushion is looking mighty fine. | (Last week: 2)
2. Boston Breakers (5-5-4, 19 pts) – When Leroux is on, the Breakers are as good as anyone. | (6)
3. FC Kansas City (7-4-4, 25 pts) – They’ve got Portland and second place in their sights. | (4)
4. Western NY Flash (6-3-5, 23 pts) – Unbeaten streak over, the Flash have cooled but are still dangerous. | (1)
5. Seattle Reign FC (2-9-3, 9 pts) – Still a very, very long way to go for a playoff spot, but Seattle might have the talent to make it interesting. | (5)
6. Chicago Red Stars (4-6-3, 15 pts) – Don’t sleep on the Red Stars, either. Chicago still has decent odds of a playoff run. | (7)
7. Portland Thorns FC (8-4-2, 26 pts) – Few would have thought that Portland would have trouble scoring. | (3)
8. Washington Spirit (1-8-4, 7 pts) – Will Washington’s coaching change spark a reversal of fortune? | (8)
What do you think? Are these struggles just a blip on the radar for the Thorns? Can SBFC widen the lead? Will the Flash or FCKC move up the standings?
Share your thoughts below.