Portland Thorns retain five-point lead in NWSL Shield race

The Portland Thorns are going to be hard to catch in the race for the NWSL Shield if they continue to play like they did at home on Sunday.

Heading into the FIFA break, the Thorns retained a five-point lead thanks to a 3-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars in front of 17,542 fans at Providence Park. They are 5-0-1 in their last six games at home with 16 goals scored.

Midge Purce scored twice to give her eight goals, tied for third in the NWSL, while Christine Sinclair contributed her ninth goal of the season, second behind only Chicago's Sam Kerr with 13 goals.

Purce's emergence in her third pro season has been a big factor in the Thorns' success. She scored once in 43 games over her first two seasons but has scored eight in the last three months, providing key goals when Portland's national team players were away on World Cup duty.

"She’s healthy, she’s fit, she’s really owned her own development,," said Portland coach Mark Parsons. "She’s really grabbed her development and is driving forward and trying to improve each game, and I think she’s reaping the rewards. Two early goals from her, but the performance around those was important.”

The Thorns lead the North Carolina Courage, but the defending champion has played two less games than the Thorns. The two teams will meet at Providence Park on Sept. 11 in a match that could decide the Shield race.

NWSL Standings:
1. Portland, 36 points (19).
Schedule: Sept. 6 at Utah, Sept. 11 NC Courage, Sept. 21 Houston, Sept. 29 at Reign FC, Oct. 12 Washington.

NC Courage
, 31 points (17).
Schedule: Sept. 7 at Sky Blue FC, Sept. 11 at Portland, Sept. 14 Orlando, Sept. 17 Houston, Sept. 21 at Utah, Sept. 28 at Washington, Oct. 12 Sky Blue FC.

, 29 points (19)
Schedule: Sept. 8 Houston, Sept. 11 Orlando, Sept. 15 Sky Blue FC, Sept. 21 Washington, Sept. 28 Utah.

, 28 points (18)
Sept. 6 Portland, Sept. 13 at Houston, Sept. 18 at Reign FC, Sept. 21 NC Courage, Sept. 28 at Chicago, Oct. 12 Houston.

Reign FC
, 27 points (18)
Schedule: Sept. 7 Orlando, Sept. 14 at Washington, Sept. 18 Utah, Sept. 21 Sky Blue FC, Sept. 29 Portland, Oct. 12 at Orlando.

, 25 points (18)
Schedule: Aug. 31 at Orlando, Sept. 14 Reign FC, Sept. 21 at Chicago, Sept. 25 at Houston, Sept. 28 NC Courage, Oct. 12 at Portland.

, 22 points (18)
Schedule: Sept. 8 at Chicago, Sept. 13 Utah, Sept. 17 at NC Courage, Sept. 21 at Portland, Sept. 25 Washington, Oct. 12 at Utah.

Sky Blue FC
, 16 points (19)
Sept. 7 NC Courage, Sept. 15 Chicago, Sept. 21 at Reign FC, Sept. 29 Orlando, Oct. 12 at NC Courage.

, 14 points (18)
Schedule: Aug. 31 Washington, Sept. 7 at Reign FC, Sept. 11 Chicago, Sept. 14 at NC Courage, Sept. 29 at Sky Blue FC, Oct. 12 Reign FC.
Note: In parentheses are games played.

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