NWSL Matchday Preview | FC Kansas City vs. Portland Thorns FC | 2014 NWSL Playoff Semi-final - Aug. 23, 2014

Thorns fight valiantly but lose 2-0 to FCKC in NWSL Playoff Semi-final; Full recap to follow
MATCH INFORMATION
Date: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Kickoff: 10 a.m. (Pacific)
Location: Verizon Wireless Field at Durwood Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)
Forecast: Sunny, 99 degrees
Referee: Chris Spivey
Assistant Referees: Amanda Ross, Kathryn Nesbitt
Fourth Official: David Yon
National Television: ESPN2
Broadcast Team: Jonathan Yardley and Julie Foudy


MATCH PREVIEW

Saturday’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Playoffs semifinal match marks the fourth meeting of the 2014 season, and eighth meeting all-time, in all competitions, between Thorns FC and FC Kansas City. The clubs met three times during the regular season, twice at Providence Park and once at Verizon Wireless Field at Durwood Stadium. In the only meeting in Kansas City, Mo., FC Kansas City earned a 1-0 victory on June 28.

Overall, Portland registered a record of 2-1-0 against FC Kansas City in the regular season. The two teams combined for 13 goals in three matches, while Thorns FC outscored the Blues in those meetings, 10-2, including a recordbreaking 7-1 victory on July 13 at Providence Park. Portland’s six-goal victory currently stands as the largest margin of victory in match in NWSL history and the team’s seven goals are the most in a single match in the league’s history.

Thorns FC have compiled a mark of 11-6-8 (.600) on the road in all competitions since 2013, including a 2-0-0 record on the road in the postseason.

SCOUTING FC KANSAS CITY

FC Kansas City was one of two teams, along with Seattle, to go unbeaten at home during the regular season (8-0-4). Saturday’s match will be the first for FC Kansas City since finishing the 2014 regular season with a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Red Stars on Aug. 9 at Benedictine Sports Complex in Lisle, Ill. FC Kansas City boasts a strong attack, scoring 39 goals during the regular season led by forward Amy Rodriguez’s 13 goals, which finished second in the NWSL.
 
Tied for second in the league in assists (7), midfielder Lauren Holiday is another scoring threat with eight goals this season. In eight games all-time against Portland, Holiday has tallied seven goals. Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart is among the top goalkeepers in the league, leading the way with eight shutouts. She also ranks among league leaders in saves (71).

REGULAR SEASON REVIEW

Portland Thorns FC returns to the NWSL Playoffs for a second consecutive season, claiming the third seed on the final day of the 2014 regular season with a 1-0 win against Seattle Reign FC on Aug. 17 at Providence Park. Forward Alex Morgan scored the game-winning goal in the 68th minute, vaulting Portland into the postseason. Portland’s home form during the season was key in helping the team claim a playoff berth. Thorns FC finished the regular season on a five-match, home unbeaten streak (4-0-1), winning its last four matches at Providence Park, and produced a record of 7-4-1 at home.

Portland opened the season without the services of Morgan and defender Rachel Van Hollebeke, while defender Steph Catley and midfielders Tobin Heath and Vero Boquete arrived midway through the season. Portland’s depth was highlighted throughout the regular season as 11 different players tallied at least one point. Boquete provided a spark upon arrival, recording 14 points in 15 matches (all starts) with four goals and six assists. Morgan returned in early June and added six goals and four assists in 14 games (16 points). Forward Jessica McDonald had a breakout season with 11 goals. McDonald is one of two players to appear in all 24 regular-season matches, along with defender Nikki Marshall. Midfielder Allie Long upped her goal total from a year ago (3), finishing the regular season with nine goals.

RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCES

Portland has set multiple club and NWSL records during the 2014 season. Most recently, forward Christine Sinclair set a NWSL single-game record for shots on goal (7) on Aug. 10 against Boston. Thorns FC and Boston set a NWSL record for most combined goals in a match (9) on July 20, breaking the previous record set on July 13 as Portland and FC Kansas City combined for eight goals at Providence Park. As a team, Portland has set single-season records for goals (38) and assists (28), breaking the previous record of 32 goals and 25 assists set in 2013. Midfielder Vero Boquete’s six assists this season set a new Thorns FC single-season record. The previous record was five assists by forward Alex Morgan during the 2013 season. Other notable records set by Portland this season include the fastest goal in NWSL history scored 33 seconds into a match by forward Jessica McDonald on July 17 at Chicago. On July 4 against Chicago at Providence Park, McDonald tallied her ninth goal of the season, setting a single-season record for goals, breaking the previous record of eight goals scored by Morgan and Sinclair during the 2013 season.

THE JESS FACTOR

Thorns FC are unbeaten (6-0-3) when forward Jessica McDonald scores a goal. McDonald finished the 2014 regular season ranked among the league leaders in goals scored (11), scoring eight of her 11 goals as a starter.


HEATING UP

Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer has come on strong during the month of August, posting a 2-1-0 record in goal with two shutouts and a 0.67 goals against average.

LAST TIME IN THE PLAYOFFS

Facing FC Kansas City on the road in Portland’s first-ever postseason match, Thorns FC overcame a 2-0 deficit, registering three unanswered goals in a dramatic, 3-2 win in overtime on Aug. 24, 2013, at Shawnee Mission District Stadium in Overland Park, Kan. Portland stormed back after surrendering a pair of goals in the first 25 minutes as midfielder Tobin Heath tallied her first goal in a Thorns FC uniform in the 33rd minute. Portland tallied the equalizer in the 65th minute to send the match to overtime. In the first of two, 15-minute overtime halves, midfielder Allie Long netted the game-winning goal in the 103rd minute to send Thorns FC to the 2013 NWSL Championship match.


ALL-TIME VERSUS FC KANSAS CITY

In eight meetings all-time, the two teams have combined to score an astounding 34 goals. Only one match has finished in a draw – the inaugural NWSL match on Apr. 13, 2013, which finished tied, 1-1. Portland has compiled a mark of 4-3-1 all-time against FC Kansas City in all competitions, while outscoring head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s side 20-14. In seven of the eight matches all-time, multiple goals have been scored by at least one team six times, while both teams have scored multiple goals three times in a match. Individual performances have stood out as well in the eight previous meetings. Midfielder Allie Long has registered five goals all-time against FC Kansas City in all competitions and forward Jessica McDonald scored her first career brace in a 3 1 win on Apr. 26 at Providence Park. A total of 10 Thorns FC players have scored a goal against FC Kansas City in the all-time series.

PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE

Portland has many new players that could see their first action in the NWSL Playoffs this weekend. Comparing the 2014 squad to last year’s team, only midfielders Mana Shim and Angie Kerr, defender Rachel Van Hollebeke, forward Christine Sinclair, Heath, Long and Morgan saw action in the 2013 NWSL Playoffs for Thorns FC. Defender Nikki Marshall did as well, but will be unavailable during the postseason due to injury. Two other current Portland players appeared in the playoffs last season, but with different teams: Sinead Farrelly (FC Kansas City) and Sarah Huffman (Western New York). Heath, Sinclair, Shim, Kerr, Long and Van Hollebeke all featured in the 2013 NWSL semifinal at FC Kansas City. Morgan did not appear in the semifinal match, but was available as substitute after recovering from a late-season knee injury. Heath has two career goals for the club, as both came during the 2013 NWSL Playoffs. Heath scored in the semifinals and also tallied the game-winning goal in the championship game.

LEAGUE LEADERS

Forward Jessica McDonald finished the regular season ranked among the top goal-scorers in the league. The forward finished tied for third with 11 goals. Midfielder Vero Boquete ranked among league leaders during the regular season with six assists, tying her for third in the NWSL. Forward Christine Sinclair finished the regular season leading the league in both shots (77) and shots on goal (40), while midfielder Allie Long led the league in corner kicks (103) and ranked tied for fifth with nine goals. Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer ranked both fourth in saves (74) and shutouts (4) among goalkeepers. As a team, Thorns FC finished with the league lead in shots (361), shots on goal (177) and corner kicks (149), while ending the regular season tied for third in goals (39) and ranked second in assists (29).