Playoff berth on the line as Portland Thorns FC square off against Boston Breakers on the road
PORTLAND, Ore. — Following a historic night at Providence Park on Sunday in front of a NWSL-record crowd of 19,123 fans, Portland Thorns FC travel to Boston with an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth on Sunday, Aug. 10, at Harvard Stadium against the Boston Breakers.
Sunday’s match is set to kickoff at 3:30 p.m. (Pacific). The match will be available via a live webstream at www.portlandthornsfc.com.
There are two spots up for grabs in the race for the NWSL playoffs. Thorns FC (9-7-6, 33pts) can clinch a playoff berth on Sunday with a win and either a Chicago Red Stars draw or loss on Saturday against FC Kansas City. Both Seattle Reign FC and FC Kansas City have claimed the top two spots as FC Kansas City secured the number two seed following a 2-1 win against Boston on Wednesday.
Portland earned a 1-0 victory against the Houston Dash last Sunday night at Providence Park. The game was played in front of 19,123 fans, setting a NWSL record for attendance, breaking the previous record of 17,619 set in Portland's 2013 regular-season finale against FC Kansas City on Aug. 4, 2013.
Thorns FC tallied their fourth clean sheet of the season against Houston. It was the team’s second clean sheet at home and its first since a 2-0 win against Washington on June 15. Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer earned her third shutout of the season, making two saves, while Portland held Houston to five shots in the match. It marked the 10th time this season Thorns FC have held an opponent to single-digit shot attempts in a match.
Midfielder Vero Boquete has tallied at least one point in each of her last six home matches, scoring the game-winning goal in the 54th minute against the Dash. The goal was Boquete’s fourth of the season, earning her NWSL Player of the Week honors. Defender Steph Catley recorded the assist, her fifth assist in the last six games.
Thorns FC currently lead the league in shots (332) and corner kicks (142) and are tied for first in shots on goal (156). This season, Portland set single-season club records for goals and assists and currently rank tied for second in goals (38) and second in assists (28), breaking the previous record of 32 goals and 25 assists set during the 2013 season.
Portland has found a spark offensively in the second half of the season, scoring 26 goals in the last 11 matches after scoring just 12 goals through the first 11 matches of the season. Thorns FC have scored three or more goals in a match three times over the last 11 matches, scoring just three goals in a match one time through the first 11 games with a 3-1 victory against FC Kansas City on April 26.
Away from Providence Park this season, Thorns FC have conceded 16 goals, while allowing multiple goals in just two of 11 road matches. Portland has claimed at least one point in three of its last four road contests. Thorns FC are 11-5-8 all-time on the road in all competitions, dating back to the 2013 season.
Individually, forward Jessica McDonald is tied for third in the league in goals scored (11), while midfielder Allie Long is tied for fifth with nine goals. Forward Christine Sinclair ranks second in shots (66) and is tied for second in shots on goal (33). Boquete and Catley both rank among league leaders in assists with six and five, respectively. Angerer is among league leaders with 65 saves.
In their last match against the Breakers, Thorns FC rallied from a one-goal deficit three times, scoring four unanswered goals in a 6-3 win on July 20 at Providence Park. Sinclair tallied the first hat-trick in club history in the match, while the two teams combined to score the most goals in a match (9) in NWSL history. Forward Alex Morgan added a goal and two assists, while Long and McDonald both tallied goals. Sinclair has scored four of her seven goals this season against the Breakers.
Boston (4-5-12, 14pts) has been eliminated from NWSL playoff contention and enters Sunday’s match following a 2-1 loss at FC Kansas City on Wednesday. The match was delayed for two hours as a result of severe weather and called final after the two teams were unable to complete the match following a second weather delay at halftime. The Breakers have conceded multiple goals in their last eight matches and have won just one match in their last eight. Midfielder Heather O’Reilly leads the team with eight goals and four assists, having tallied at least one point in five straight matches. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher leads the NWSL in saves (85).
Following Sunday’s match, Thorns FC return to the Rose City for their regular-season finale against Pacific Northwest-rival Seattle Reign FC on Sunday, Aug. 17; kickoff is set for 2 p.m. (Pacific). Sunday’s match will be broadcast live locally on Comcast SportsNet Northwest.
Boquete earns NWSL Player of the Week honors
Thorns FC midfielder Vero Boquete was named NWSL Player of the Week for the third time this season on Tuesday. The Spain Women’s National Team captain scored the game-winning goal in the 54th minute of Portland’s 1-0 win against Houston on Sunday. Click here for the complete release.