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Wildfires force extra breaks in Portland Thorns' NWSL playoff-clinching victory

The Portland Thorns' Tobin Heath scored in the second half of the win over Sky Blue FC.
Portland Thorns midfielder Tobin Heath scored in the second half of the win over Sky Blue FC.

The Portland Thorns' victory over Sky Blue FC on Wednesday, in which they qualified for the NWSL playoffs, was interrupted four times as players were given breaks because of poor air quality resulting from nearby wildfires.

The NWSL decided before the game to implement the safety measures as the state's air quality index, which measures the number of pollutants in the air, rose to what the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality considered "unhealthy" levels.

According to the Oregonian, the index reached 163 at 9 p.m., shortly after the start of the second half of the game. The "unhealthy" range, between 151 and 200, means residents are advised to stay indoors and to limit physically demanding activities.

Breaks were given to players at the 15th, 30th, 60th and 75th minutes, and oxygen tanks were available behind the benches for players to use.

The Seattle Reign have implemented similar breaks in each of their last two games because of poor air quality.

Christine Sinclair and Tobin Heath scored as the Thorns, the defending league champions, reached the postseason for the third consecutive year with a 2-1 win.

Thousands of acres of land have been burned as five wildfires have ravaged the state, with the nearest to Portland centered in Condon, Oregon -- approximately 150 miles east.

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