NWSL Match Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs. Western New York Flash - July 14, 2013
Portland Thorns FC vs. Western New York Flash
Presented by Fix Auto Northwest
Date: Sunday, July 14, 2013
Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Oregon)
Radio: Freedom 970
Forecast: 81 degrees, sunny
Sunday’s game, presented by Fix Auto, is the first meeting between Portland Thorns FC and the Western New York Flash during the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season. It is the only game hosted by Thorns FC at JELD-WEN Field, as the teams will meet again on Aug. 10 at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, N.Y., in the penultimate game of Portland’s regular-season schedule. Thorns FC enter Sunday’s game after suffering a 2-0 loss at home on July 6 against the Boston Breakers. Thorns FC conceded two first-half goals in the loss to Boston, but still maintain the second-place spot in the NWSL standings. Western New York began the week in fourth place in the standings, but are winless in their last three matches, including a 3-2 loss at Seattle Reign FC on Thursday night in Tukwila, Wash. The Flash started a series of four straight road games on July 4, falling 1-0 against the Chicago Red Stars before a scoreless draw against FC Kansas City on July 7. Sunday’s match at JELD-WEN will be the Flash’s final road game in July, returning home for five of the last six games in the regular season.
Scouting the Flash
Sunday marks the final of four consecutive road games for the Western New York Flash. Proving to be a tough series of opponents, the Flash lost at Chicago (1-0), played to a draw at FC Kansas City (0-0), before a 3-2 loss against Seattle Reign FC on Thursday night at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. The Flash (6- 4-5, 23pts) are four points ahead of the fifth-place Boston Breakers for the final berth to the NWSL playoffs.
Second in the NWSL with 24 goals scored, the Flash are led by U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach, who has netted nine goals in just 12 games played. Wambach scored a brace against Seattle on Thursday, despite the loss. Midfielder Carli Lloyd, also a U.S. Women’s National Team standout, has added four goals in her nine games played. Western New York has conceded 16 goals in 14 games, while rookie goalkeeper Adrianna Franch leads the league with 68 saves.
Flash Without Forward Adriana
The Flash will be without Spanish international forward Adriana Martín for Sunday’s match at JELD-WEN Field. The forward, who has recorded two goals and one assist in 10 games (all starts) for Western New York, is currently on international duty with Spain at the 2013 UEFA Women’s European Championship in Sweden. Spain is in Group C alongside Russia, France and England. Adriana, 26, scored eight goals in eight games during the tournament’s qualifying phase.
The Record Setter
Western New York forward Abby Wambach became the all-time leading scorer with four goals against Korea Republic on June 20 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. The four goals all came in the first half as Wambach surpassed Mia Hamm’s old mark of 158 goals and set the new standard at 160 goals - and counting. The match against Korea Republic was the final U.S. Women’s National Team game to be played during the NWSL season. The United States will play host to Mexico at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., in an international friendly on Sept. 3 - just three days after the NWSL championship game on Aug. 31.
Heath Joins Thorns FC
U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Tobin Heath joined Thorns FC on Tuesday, training with the team for the first time this season. Heath, who was allocated to Thorns FC on January 11, spent the first half of the National Women’s Soccer League season under contract with Paris Saint-Germain in France. While playing for PSG, Heath scored four goals in eight regular-season appearances. The native of Basking Ridge, N.J., has scored eight goals in 69 appearances with the United States since her debut in 2008.
Holding a Lead
Thorns FC are the only team in the NWSL that has yet to concede a lead this season. Portland, 8-0-0 when scoring first, is the lone remaining squad that has not allowed an opponent to come back for a tie or win in a match.
Through 14 games, Thorns FC have conceded 13 goals in 14 games which ranks as the league’s best defense. Entering the weekend, Portland is one of two teams in the NWSL that concedes an opponent average of less than one-goal per game (0.93 goals per game). FC Kansas City have surrendered 14 goals in 15 games. Portland goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc ranks first in the league with a 0.85 goals-against average. LeBlanc’s six shutouts also rank third in the NWSL behind FC Kansas City’s Nicole Barnhart and Sky Blue FC’s Brittany Cameron (both have seven clean sheets).
Thorns FC forward Danielle Foxhoven ranks third on the team in scoring with three goals this season, all of which have come as a second-half substitute. Foxhoven, who scored in the 48th minute of a 4-3 win against FC Kansas City on June 6 as a halftime sub, has appeared in 13 of the team’s 14 games - 12 times off the bench. The former University of Portland standout has scored at a clip of .65 goals per 90 minutes, which ranks first on the team.
Second Half Pressure
Thorns FC have attempted nearly 30 more total shots during the second half of matches this season when compared to the opening 45 minutes, leading to 11 second-half goals. Portland has registered 56 shots on goal in the second half, almost doubling the team’s total in the first half of games (33 shots).
Thorns FC are 7-0-0 when scoring two or more goals this season. In seven of the team’s eight wins, Portland has tallied two or more goals, including a streak of four straight wins when scoring twice in a game (April 21-May 12). When scoring the first goal, Thorns FC are an undefeated 8-0-0.
Among League Leaders
Through 14 games in the inaugural NWSL season, several Thorns FC players rank among league leaders in several statistical categories. Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan leads the league in both shots (51) and shots on goal (29), despite missing two matches while on international duty. Morgan’s team-high five goals ranks tied for fifth overall in the NWSL. As a team, Portland is fifth in goals (18), but first in goal defense - conceding a league-low 13 goals in 14 games.
Thorns FC Waive Jessica Shufelt
Thorns FC announced on Wednesday that the club has waived forward Jessica Shufelt. Shufelt, 23, was the club’s fifth-round pick (40th overall) in the inaugural NWSL Supplemental Draft on Feb. 7, 2013. The Rochester, N.Y., native appeared in four matches for Thorns FC this season, logging 31 minutes played.
Attendance in Context
Through seven home games, Portland has earned an average attendance number of 12,797 at JELD-WEN Field. The number is impressive when put in larger context. When placed alongside Major League Soccer attendance numbers, Thorns FC draw larger average crowds than Chivas USA and just slightly less than the Chicago Fire (13,433). Worldwide based on 2012-13 attendance, Thorns FC outdraw seven men’s teams in the Dutch Eredivisie (Netherlands), five teams in Ligue 1 (France), three teams in Serie A (Italy) and England’s npower Championship (the step below the Premier League) and two teams in La Liga (Spain).