Soccer

Christine Sinclair returns to pitch as Thorns shut out Reign to reach Challenge Cup final

Lindsey Horan and Simone Charley scored and the Portland Thorns wrapped up a spot in the preseason Challenge Cup final with a 2-0 victory over OL Reign on Wednesday night.

Canadian captain hadn't played since injury vs. Wales earlier in April

Portland's Christine Sinclair, seen above in a 2020 match, returned to the pitch Wednesday following an injury in international play as the Thorns beat the OL Reign 2-0 in NWSL Challenge Cup action. (Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press)

Lindsey Horan and Simone Charley scored and the Portland Thorns wrapped up a spot in the preseason Challenge Cup final with a 2-0 victory over OL Reign on Wednesday night.

The Thorns have won their first three Challenge Cup matches to secure the top spot in the tournament's West Division standings. The final is set for May 8.

National team players appeared for their clubs for the first time in the tournament after international play. The United States had a pair of exhibition matches in Europe as the team prepares for the Tokyo Olympics.

Megan Rapinoe and Jessica Fishlock (Wales) were available as substitutes for the Reign, while Becky Sauerbrunn, Lindsey Horan, Canadian captain Christine Sinclair, Crystal Dunn and Sophia Smith were all in the Thorns' starting lineup.

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Sinclair was injured in a national-team friendly against Wales earlier in the month, when she limped off the field. International soccer's all-time leading scorer then missed the following game against England.

She played 69 minutes on Wednesday before being substituted.

Canada coach Bev Priestman downplayed the injury at the time, saying she was "not majorly concerned at this stage."

Sinclair missed the SheBelieves Cup in February with an undisclosed injury.

Horan put the Thorns on top early with a goal on a free kick in the 16th minute. Charley added the second moments into the second half.

Rapinoe had a good chance in the 80th minute but Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch reached out to stop it.

The game marked the Portland debut of Dunn, who joined the Thorns in the off-season.

Earlier Wednesday, the Chicago Red Stars played to a 1-1 draw with Kansas City. Sydney Leroux scored in the Orlando Pride's 1-0 victory over the Washington Spirit.

With files from CBC Sports and The Canadian Press

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