NWSL Match Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs. Sky Blue FC at JELD-WEN Field
Portland Thorns FC vs. Sky Blue FC
Date: Thursday, May 16, 2013
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: JELD-WEN Field
Forecast: 66 degrees, partly cloudy
Local Radio: Freedom 970 AM
Thursday’s match marks the first of three meetings between Portland Thorns FC and Sky Blue FC during the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season. Both teams are kicking off a span of two games in four days as Thorns FC host the Washington Spirit at 2 p.m. on Sunday following the match against Sky Blue FC, while the New Jersey-based team travels north to play Seattle Reign FC on Sunday at 6 p.m.
Unbeaten in five straight games, Thorns FC are playing just their second home match after completing a three game road trip with a 2-0 win against the Chicago Red Stars on May 12. Sky Blue FC, meanwhile, are undefeated in consecutive games after earning a 1-1 draw against Chicago on May 8 and a 2-0 win against Seattle on May 11 in back-to-back home games at Yurcak Stadium in Piscataway, N.J
Long, Marshall and Shufelt Earn Milestones
Thorns FC players Allie Long, Nikki Marshall and Jessica Shufelt all earned milestones in a 2-0 road win at Chicago on May 12. Long, a midfielder, recorded her first career NWSL goal against the Red Stars, finishing a well-placed cross from midfielder Nikki Washington in the 35th minute. The Long Island native ranks third on the club in shots (8) behind the attacking duo of Alex Morgan (20) and Christine Sinclair (12). Defender Nikki Marshall registered her first career NWSL assist, slipping a through ball up the left side for Morgan on a third-minute goal against Chicago. Shufelt entered the match as a late substitute for Morgan, earning her first appearance for Thorns FC and her first career NWSL appearance.
Rose City Connections
Sky Blue FC’s roster features several players with connections to the Rose City. Rookie defender Kendall Johnson is a Portland native and played soccer at Lincoln High School, just steps from JELD-WEN Field, before starring at the University of Portland from 2009-12. Johnson was a second-round pick (12th overall), by Sky Blue FC in the inaugural NWSL College Draft on Jan. 18, 2013. Midfielder Sophie Schmidt played collegiately at the University of Portland from 2007-10. A Canadian international with 100 caps to her name, Schmidt ranks seventh all-time on UP’s scoring chart with 111 points (40g, 30a). Sky Blue FC rookie midfielder Madeleine Thompson is a Corvallis, Ore., native and prepped at Corvallis High School before playing for Stanford University from 2009-12, earning one goal and two assists in 53 games as a defender for the Cardinal.
Sinclair named NWSL Player of the Month
Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair was recently named the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Player of the Month for April. Sinclair earned at least a point in three straight games during the month of April, helping guide Thorns FC to an undefeated 2-0-1 record during the opening month of the inaugural 2013 NWSL season. The Canadian international recorded the first goal in Thorns FC history, converting a game-tying penalty kick on April 13 in a 1-1 draw against FC Kansas City in the league’s inaugural match. A former standout at the University of Portland, Sinclair assisted on forward Alex Morgan’s goal in a 2-1 win against Seattle Reign FC on April 21 in Portland’s home opener, becoming the first player in league history to register both a goal and an assist during the season. Sinclair then scored her second goal of the season in the team’s next game, a 2-0 road win against the Chicago Red Stars on April 27.
Thorns FC finished Week 5 of the NWSL regular season with a league-high nine goals through five games. Showcasing the club’s attacking versatility and depth, six players have accounted for the team’s nine goals - including a team-high three from forward Alex Morgan. Forwards have tallied six of the teams nine goals (66.7 percent), midfielders have pitched in two (22.2 percent) and defenders have tallied one goal (11.1 percent).
Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan has recorded at least a point in four straight matches, including registering a goal in back-to-back games (May 4-12). Morgan leads the club with three goals and one assist (7 points) and ranks tied for second overall among league leaders in scoring. Boston Breakers forward Sydney Leroux leads the league with nine points (4g, 1a).