alex.schaffer
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NWSL match on ESPN2 was a Record Setting Advertisement for League

Jul 21, 2014 12:49 PM EST

Last night marked the first time in National Women's Soccer League history that a match was televised to a national audience. The Portland Thorns Football Club took on the Boston Breakers at Providence Park. The league has done an excellent job of making matches available to watch live on Youtube, but this was America's first opportunity to see the great Alex Morgan in a professional match.

Up to this point in the season, these teams have had very different campaigns, with the Breakers sitting at the bottom of the league table with only 3 wins from 18 matches. The Thorns on the other hand are sitting in 3rd place, desperately needing a win to secure their place in the playoffs. Portland also boasts three of the league's top ten scorers, which allowed them to begin the match with Jessica McDonald on the bench. 

Boston did not back down from the challenge that Portland provided and managed to capitalize on a poor clearance from Jazmine Reeves with a well placed shot from Katie Schoepfer. Alex Morgan went to work a few minutes later, drawing a penalty that was eventually converted by Allie Long. Ten minutes later the Breakers recaptured their lead after a great run from Jazmine Reeves, who atoned for her earlier mistake with a fantastic chip into the goal. However, this lead only lasted three minutes before maestro Vero Boquete dissected the defense with intricate passing, performed an incredible drag back around a defender, and slotted a pass to Christine Sinclair who finished with ease.

The 2-2 deadlock only lasted three minutes before the Breakers drew the match's second penalty, this time for a handball in the penalty area. Heather O'Reilly perfectly placed the penalty into the lower right corner giving Boston a 3-2 lead. Portland was able to storm back and equalize just three minutes after that, finishing a great run of play with an Alex Morgan pass to Sinclair who notched her brace with a finish of the post and in. At halftime the scoreline was a breathtaking 3-3 much to the delight of supporters in the stadium and watching around the nation. 

After a great first half performance, where Boston enjoyed leads on three separate occasions, they looked to have run out of gas in the second half. Just one minute into the half, Alex Morgan dribbled into the penalty area and laid off an easy bass to Sinclair who converted for her hat trick. Six minutes later, Alex Morgan finally struck with a brilliant finish which ricocheted into the net off the left post. In the 70th minute, Jessica McDonald entered the game and scored the best goal of the match in the 88th.  McDonald dribbled down the left side to the touch line, nutmegged two defenders, and finished from a very difficult angle off of the post. 

McDonald's goal was a moment of brilliance that gave fans watching around the nation a moment to remember. The goal also put the game into record breaking territory because the 9 goals combined between the two teams was a league record high. ESPN certainly picked the right match to show the growing audience of soccer fans some of the top talent in the NWSL. It was an incredible advertisment for the league and will contribute to the growing soccer fan base in America.