Thorns FC and the Houston Dash meet for the third, and final, time this season on Sunday at 7 p.m. (Pacific) It is the only meeting between the two teams at Providence Park this season.
Portland is in the hunt for one of four NWSL playoff spots. Thorns FC currently sit in fourth place with 30 points, one point behind third place Washington and seven points behind second-place FC Kansas City, heading into Saturday’s NWSL matches.
Thorns FC come into Sunday’s match with back-to-back wins at Providence Park, having outscored their opponents 13-4 in those two matches, including a 7-1 win on July 13 against FC Kansas City and a 6-3 win against Boston on July 20.
Portland is 2-0-0 all-time against Houston, winning both of the previous meetings in Houston by a score of 1-0.
LAST TIME AGAINST HOUSTON
Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer made a season-high seven saves, including a key stop on a second-half penalty kick, and forward Jessica McDonald scored the game-winning goal as Thorns FC earned a 1-0 victory against the Houston Dash on May 14 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. McDonald tallied the game-winning goal in the 57th minute, connecting on a well-placed cross from midfielder Angie Kerr. Angerer made the stop on midfielder Kaylyn Kyle’s penalty kick in the 48th minute after Portland was whislted for a handball in the box. Angerer dove to her right, smothering the effort before helping guide the rebound out for a goal kick. The German international kept a clean sheet in the match also making critical saves on midfielder Jordan Jackson in the 16th and 42nd minutes and stopped forward Kealia Ohai’s attempt in the 77th minute.
The Dash enter Sunday’s match coming off a 4-1 loss against Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday at BBVA Compass Stadium. Houston has just five wins this season, but has found success on the road with a record of 3-3-2. The Dash rank at the bottom of the league in goals scored (21), scoring multiple goals in just five matches this season. The Dash are missing several key players due to injury, including Canadian international Lauren Sesselmann, Mexican international Teresa Noyola as well as midfielder Brittany Bock. However the team has been bolstered with the addition U.S. Women’s National Team defenders Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg, who joined the team midseason. The second overall pick in the 2014 NWSL College Draft, forward Kealia Ohai has recorded four goals and one assist in 18 matches (16 starts) this season. Forward Ella Masar has also tallied three goals and an assist. Goalkeeper and Canadian international Erin McLeod ranks second in the league in saves (70).
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Playing their home matches at downtown Portland’s iconic Providence Park, Thorns FC drew an average crowd of 13,320 fans per game during the inaugural 2013 National Women’s Soccer League season. Through 10 home games in 2014, Thorns FC has averaged 12,411 fans at Providence Park. Portland’s tallied an NWSL record 17,619 fans at the team’s 2013 regular-season, home finale against FC Kansas City on Aug. 4, 2013.
Portland continued its record-breaking ways in a 6-3 victory against the Boston Breakers on July 20. Thorns FC and Boston set a NWSL record for most combined goals in a match (9), breaking the previous record set back 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 (37) and assists (27), breaking the previous record of 32 goals and 25 assists set in 2013. Midfielder Verónica 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. Back 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. Thorns FC also recorded the largest margin of victory (6) and most goals scored (7) in a 7-1 win against FC Kansas City on July 13.
TERRY SIGNED, TWO PLACED ON DL
Thorns FC signed forward Hanna Terry for the remainder of the season on July 25, while defenders Courtney Niemiec and Kat Tarr were placed on the disabled list for the remainder of the season. Terry, 23, is a former standout at Northeastern University (2011-13), while she was named to the Sweden U-23 Women’s National Team roster for the 2013 Four Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain, from Feb. 28-March 4, 2013. At two-time first team All-Colonial Athletic Conference selection, Terry helped lead the Huskies to a NCAA tournament berth as well as a CAA title in 2013.
Portland has found a spark offensively over the last 11 matches, scoring 27 goals after recording 10 goals through the first 10 matches of the season. Thorns FC lead the league in assists (27), shots (317), shots on goal (148) and corner kicks (136) and ranks second in goals (37). Portland has scored six or more goals in a match three times this season: June 21 at Washington (6), July 13 against FC Kansas City (7) and July 20 against Boston (6).
THE JESS FACTOR
Forward Jessica McDonald remains in the hunt for the NWSL Golden Boot with 11 goals, tied for second most in the NWSL. McDonald has scored eight of her 11 goals as a starter. Thorns FC are unbeaten (6-0-3) when McDonald scores a goal. At Providence Park, Thorns FC are 4-0-1 when McDonald scores.
McDonald ranks among the league leaders in goals as does midfielder Allie Long ranks fifth (9) and forward Christine Sinclair is among the league leaders with seven goals. Midfielder Verónica Boquete is tied for the NWSL lead in assists (6). Forward Christine Sinclair leads the league in shots (62) and is tied for the lead in shots on goal (31). Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer ranks fourth in the NWSL in saves (59).
TWICE AS NICE
Five different players have registered a brace for Thorns FC in the club’s history: Christine Sinclair, Alex Morgan, Jessica McDonald (2), Allie Long and Verónica Boquete. Thorns FC players have tallied five braces alone this season: McDonald twice (April 26, June 21), Morgan (June 21), Boquete (July 13) and Long (July 13).
Thorns FC have tallied double-digit shot attempts in all 10 matches at Providence Park this season, including three games with 20 or more shots. Portland is averaging 15.1 shots per match, while averaging 18 shots in home matches.