Saturday’s match marks the first of three regular-season meetings between Portland (2-0-1, 7pts) and Western New York (1-1-0, 3pts). The two sides squared off in the 2013 NWSL championship game on Aug. 31, 2013, with Thorns FC earning a 2-0 win over Western New York as midfielder Tobin Heath and forward Christine Sinclair each tallied goals to help Portland capture the league’s inaugural title. Thorns FC earned a 1-0-2 record against Western New York in all competitions last season, including a 0-0-2 mark during regular-season play. Midfielder Meleana Shim and Western New York forward Abby Wambach each tallied first half goals in a 1-1 draw at Providence Park on July 14, 2013. In the second meeting, Portland traveled to face Western New York and earned a scoreless draw on Aug. 10, 2013, in the penultimate match of the regular season. Thorns FC earned the league’s best road record during the 2013 season with a mark of 6-2-3 overall, and including the postseason, Portland has compiled an all-time mark of 9-2-4 away from home.
THORNS FC EARN HOME-OPENING WIN
Forward Jessica McDonald recorded a brace, midfielder Allie Long scored a goal in a third consecutive match and goalkeeper Nadine Angerer made six saves as Portland Thorns FC earned a 3-1 win against FC Kansas City in Portland’s regular-season home opener before 14,124 fans at Providence Park on April 26.
McDonald’s two-goal performance, the second of her National Women’s Soccer League career, came in the final six minutes of the match as Portland pushed numbers forward looking for the go-ahead goal. Tied at 1-1 in the 84th minute, McDonald slotted a shot past FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart from close range following a nice passing sequence between Long and substitute midfielder/defender Sarah Huffman.
Second-half substitute midfielder Meleana Shim factored in on the next goal just four minutes later when she played a long pass down the left channel into space for McDonald. The forward was then able to run onto the ball and lob a shot over the oncoming goalkeeper with the outside of her right foot for her second goal of the match. McDonald, who became just the second Thorns FC player all-time to register a brace, finished with a game-high four shots on goal. In addition, McDonald becomes just the second player to tally four points in a single match for Portland.
Playing its first home match since Aug. 4, 2013 – a span of 265 days – Portland earned the advantage in shots on goal, 10-7. Portland’s 10 shots on goal tied for the second-most in a regular season match by the club all-time.
SCOUTING THE FLASH
The Flash play host to Portland in their regular-season home opener Saturday after a bye week and two road matches to start the 2014 season. Western New York enters Saturday’s match following a 1-0 loss against the Chicago Red Stars. Rookie midfielder Julie Johnston tallied her first professional goal in the 59th minute to provide the difference. The Flash opened their regular season schedule with a 3-1 road win over Washington Spirit. Vicky Losada scored goals in the 15th and 67th minutes and tallied an assist on defender Brittany Taylor’s strike in the 54th minute. Losada, a Spanish international, is just two goals shy of the league lead in goals. Forward Abby Wambach is expected to return for the Flash after recovering from a fractured orbital bone and missing the first two games of the regular season. Wambach, the all-time leading scorer in women’s international soccer, finished among league leaders in several offensive categories in 2013, taking second place in goals scored (11), assists (8) and points (30). U.S. international midfielder Carli Lloyd will miss Saturday’s match as part of a league-imposed, two-game suspension for excessive use of force during an off the ball incident against Chicago.
Western New York Flash defender Kat Williamson and midfielder/defender Courtney Wetzel each spent the 2013 NWSL season with Portland, featuring in the team’s run to the inaugural league title. The pair arrived in Western New York as part of a trade on April 7 in which Portland acquired midfielder/defender Sarah Huffman and Spain Women’s National Team captain Verónica Boquete.
NATIONAL TEAM CALL UPS
Midfielder Allie Long and defender Nikki Marshall have been called up by the U.S. Women’s National Team and forward Christine Sinclair has been called up to the Canada Women’s National Team for an upcoming international friendly between the United States and Canada on May 8.
The U.S. Women’s National Team travels to face Canada on Thursday, May 8, at 5 p.m. (Pacific) at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Canada. The match will be broadcast live online on ESPN3 and espnW.com.
Long, 26, earns her first call into the U.S. Women’s National Team since July 2010, when she was named to the training camp roster for two matches against Sweden under former head coach Pia Sundhage. Representing the United States at the U-20 and U-23 levels during her career, Long has yet to earn her first international appearance with the senior national team.
Marshall, 25, earns her first call-up to the U.S. Women’s National Team after representing the United States at the U-20 and U-23 levels. Marshall, who has started 25 consecutive matches for Thorns FC since 2013, earned Woman of the Match honors as she helped the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team win the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with a 2-1 victory over North Korea in Chile.
Sinclair, 30, has appeared in five matches for Canada during the 2014 calendar year, scoring a goal in a 3-0 win over Finland at the Cyprus Cup on March 5. The Canada Women’s National Team captain currently has 147 career international goals, which ranks third all-time in women’s soccer history. Sinclair, a National Women’s Soccer League Best XI Second Team selection in 2013, has played 90 minutes in each of Portland’s first three matches in 2014.
PROSOCCERTALK.COM TEAM OF THE WEEK
Thorns FC goalkeeper Nadine Angerer and forward Jessica McDonald both earned a spot on NBC ProSoccerTalk.com’s NWSL Team of the Week for Week 3 of the season following their performances in a 3-1 win over FC Kansas City on April 26 at Providence Park. Angerer’s inclusion on the Team of the Week marks the second consecutive week the 2013 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year has been named to the list. The German international made six saves against FC Kansas City, including a crucial stop with less than 15 minutes remaining in the match. McDonald registered two goals in the final six minutes of the match against FC Kansas City, netting the second brace of her NWSL career.
AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
Heading into Saturday’s match, Thorns FC currently rank among league leaders in several statistical categories. Portland is tied for second in the league in fewest goals allowed, conceding just two goals in three games, while ranking third in total shots (46) and shots on goal (19). Individually, midfielder Allie Long is tied for second in the league in goal scoring (3) and shots (14), while goalkeeper Nadine Angerer is tied for second with a 0.67 goals-against average. Forward Jessica McDonald is just two shy of the league lead in goals following her brace against FC Kansas City on April 26.