NWSL Match Preview | Portland Thorns FC vs. Washington Spirit | June 15, 2014
Portland Thorns FC will play its first game of the season, and it second in the next seven days, against the Washington Spirt on Sunday, June 15 at Providence Park; kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. (Pacific).
Thorns FC is coming off a loss to the Western New York Flash on June 7. Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was issued a straight red card in the 28th minute forcing Portland to play down a player for the remaining 62 minutes. Five Thorns FC players made their season debuts including forward Alex Morgan, defenders Rachel Van Hollebeke and Steph Catley, midfielder Verónica Boquete and goalkeeper Michelle Betos.
Portland enters Sunday’s match with a record of 2-0-0 in all competitions against the Washington Spirit. Thorns FC outscored Washington 4-1 in their two meetings in 2013.
Last time versus the Spirit
Thorns FC earned a 2-0 victory over the Washington Spirit on May 19, 2013 at Providence Park. Forwards Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan both registered goals in the win. Sinclair put Portland in front just four minutes before halftime, settling a cross in the box from midfielder Allie Long before bending a left-footed shot inside the far post. Morgan doubled the lead in the 86th minute running onto a through ball, splitting two defenders and finishing with a right-footed shot inside the box. Washington goalkeeper Chantel Jones made a game-high six saves in her NWSL debut against Portland.
Scouting the Washington Spirit
The Washington Spirit had its five-game unbeaten streak snapped on Wednesday night in a 2-0 loss against the Boston Breakers at Harvard Stadium. Forward Katie Schoepfer and midfielder Courtney Jones record goals in the 42nd and 43rd minutes of the match while Boston held a 17-4 advantage in shots.
The Spirit will be without four players on Sunday who are away on international duty. First-choice goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and defender Ali Krieger are with the U.S. Women’s National Team, while midfielder Diana Matheson and defender Robyn Gayle are in camp with the Canada Women’s National Team. Defender Crystal Dunn was originally called into U.S. camp but did not join the squad due to a hamstring injury. Dunn started and played 20 minutes against Chicago on June 4 but did not appear in Wednesday’s match.
Washington is led offensively by forward Jodie Taylor who ranks third in the league with six goals. Midfielder Christine Nairn has registered three goals and an assist in 2014. Goalkeeper Chantel Jones earned her first start of the year on Wednesday night in place of Harris.
Starting rookie defenders Emily Menges and Courtney Niemiec alongside Nikki Marshall and Kat Tarr started five straight games in the backline (May 10-28) for an average age of 24 years old. Steph Catley, 20, earned her first start for Thorns FC on June 7 bringing the average age of the baclkine to 22.25 years old. Menges, Niemiec and Catley are all under the age of 23 and in their first year in the NWSL.
Thorns FC enter Sunday’s match ranked second in the league in shots (159) and shots on goal (71). Portland has recorded double-digit shot attempts in nine of 10 matches this season. Thorns FC is averaging 15.9 shot attempts per game, the most of any team in the league, and has tallied double-digit shot attempts in six consecutive matches. Thorns FC has recorded double-digit shots in each of its five home matches in 2014 for an average of 17.8 shots per game at Providence Park. Forward Jessica McDonald ranks among the league leaders in goal-scoring (5), shots (30) and shots on goal (15). She has registered two or more shots in four of Portland’s five home matches this season.
National team duty
Forward Alex Morgan, midfielders Tobin Heath and Allie Long and defender Rachel Van Hollebeke were named to U.S. Women’s National Team roster for a pair of international friendlies against France on June 14 and June 19. Forward Christine Sinclair is away with the Canada Women’s National Team and goalkeeper Nadine Angerer with Germany as the two teams square off June 18 in Vancouver, B.C.
Morgan, 24, heads into training camp with the national team for the first time in 2014. She hasn’t appeared in a national team match since November 2013 while recovering from an ankle injury.
Heath, 26, made her last appearance with the United States in a 3-0 win over China PR as a substitute in the 57th minute on April 10 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif.
Long, 26, earns her second call into the U.S Women’s National Team after making her first international appearance as a sub with the senior national team in a 1-1 draw against Canada on May 8.
Van Hollebeke, 28, was a late addition to the roster. She made her last appearance with the U.S. against China PR on April 10.
Sinclair, 31, featured in Canada’s last international contest on May 8 as well playing all 90 minutes.
Angerer, 35, is one of the top goalkeepers in the NWSL this season ranking among the league leaders in saves (36) and shutouts (2).
Amateur call ups
Thorns FC called up four players for Sunday’s match against the Washington Spirit to provide roster depth with five players away on international duty. Defenders Michelle Cruz and Carlie Davis along with goalkeeper Cris Lewis and forward Hanna Terry were added to Portland’s roster for Sunday’s match. Cruz played locally at the University of Portland appearing in 76 games during her career for the Pilots. She helped lead UP to the NCAA Tournament in each of her four seasons. Davis started all 25 games during her senior season in 2012 at Baylor. She helped guide the Bears to the 2012 NCAA Tournament as part of a squad that set the school record for most wins in a season (19). Lewis was a standout at Portland State from 2006-09 and appeared in a Thorns FC match in 2013 against Chicago. Terry played at Northeastern University for three seasons leading the team to a NCAA Tournament berth as well as a Colonial Athletic Conference title in 2013. A two-time first-team All-CAA selection, Terry finished her career ranked fourth all-time in assists (14).