Matchday Preview, Thorns vs. FCKC, 6.19.15


MATCH INFORMATION


Date: Saturday, June 19, 2015
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Forecast: Partly cloudy, 77 degrees
Referee: Brandon Artis
Assistant Referees: TJ Zablocki, Reyna Fonseca Fourth Official: Desmond Miller
Webstream: Available via www.portlandthornsfc.com



MATCH DAY PREVIEW


Portland Thorns FC return to action after a league-wide break for the group stage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, playing host to reigning NWSL Champions FC Kansas City on Friday, June 19, at 7 p.m. (Pacific).


Following back-to-back road matches prior to the World Cup break, Thorns FC play their first home match in nearly a month at Providence Park. It also marks the first of two matches against FC Kansas City during the regular season and the only match between the two teams during the regular season at Providence Park.


Portland posted a record of 2-1-0 during the regular season against FC Kansas City in 2014, including a mark of 2-0-0 at Providence Park. Additionally, Thorns FC squared off against FC Kansas City in the NWSL Playoffs, falling 2-0 on the road.


LAST MATCH RECAP


Thorns FC earned a point on the road, playing to a scoreless draw against the Houston Dash on June 6 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Goalkeeper Michelle Betos made two key saves in the match to keep her first clean sheet of the season, stopping a penalty kick by forward Kealia Ohai in the 55th minute. Forward Ayo looked dangerous, registering seven shots in the match, while Portland held a 15-5 edge in shots, but were unable to find the game winner. Midfielder Taylor Comeau nearly broke the deadlock in the 40th minute with a half volley from 25 yards out that was tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Bianca Henninger.


SCOUTING KANSAS CITY


FC Kansas City (3-4-1, 10 pts) visit Portland for the second game of a three- game road trip, but have not played a match since May 30 in Boston, suffering a 1-0 loss to the Breakers. The Blues ranked near the top of the league in goals scored in 2014 with 39 as forward Amy Rodriguez and midfielder Lauren Holiday combined to score 21 goals for the team, but both are away competing at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup with the United States. FC Kansas City does have both its other two top goal scorers from 2014 in midfielder Erika Tymrak and forward Sarah Hagen, however neither has found the back of the net this season. Forward Liz Bogus leads the club with two goals, while midfielder Shea Groom and defender Amy LePeilbet each have one goal apiece. The Blues boast the top defense in the league, despite being without the services of reigning NWSL Defensive Player of the Year Becky Sauerbrunn, who is also at the World Cup, having allowed the fewest goals in the league (7).


SERIES HISTORY


Portland and FC Kansas City have provided some high-scoring contests in the all-time series as the two clubs have combined to score 29 goals in seven regular-season meetings. Thorns FC set a NWSL single-game record for goals scored in the last match at Providence Park on July 13, 2014, earning a 7-1 victory behind a brace from midfielder Allie Long. Long has scored three goals in the last two meetings at home against FC Kansas City. Portland is 3-1-0 all-time against Kansas City at Providence Park with a 16-8 advantage in goals scored. Thorns FC have scored at least two goals in all four meetings at Providence Park, outscoring FC Kansas City 10-2 in the two meetings in 2014.


MIDFIELD PARTNERSHIP


Midfielder Allie Long and Mana Shim have proved to be a lethal combo for Thorns FC this season. Of the team’s 10 goals scored this season, seven have come from the dynamic pair, while five of the team’s eight assists have also come from either Long or Shim. Notably, Shim has assisted on three of Long’s four goals. Thorns FC have a record of 11-0-4 in regular-season NWSL matches since 2013 when either Long or Shim scores.


LONG AT THE TOP OF HER GAME


Midfielder Allie Long is tied for second in the NWSL with four goals this season for Thorns FC. The midfielder has registered a goal or an assist in five of Port- land’s eight matches this season. Additionally, Long ranks fourth in the league in shots (23) and shots on goal (13). Long also ranks among the top 10 in the league with two assists.


STOUT DEFENSE


Portland’s defense ranks near the top of the league in goals allowed (9), tied for second-fewest goals conceded in the NWSL this season. Thorns FC have allowed the third fewest shots (75) and second fewest shots on goal (38) in the league this season. Portland has surrendered nine shots or less in five of its eight matches this season, while limiting five of their eight opponents to five or less shots on goal, including four opponents to just two shots on goal.


NOTABLE STATS


Portland is 19-2-5 all-time when scoring first in a match, including a record of 2-1-0 this season. Thorns FC are 13-0-5 all-time when leading at the half and 23-4-9 when leading or tied at half. Portland has found success as well when leading late in matches, earning wins in 19 of 23 matches when leading at the 75th minute of a match. Thorns FC are 16-8-9 all-time when outshooting their opponents in a match. Also, Portland is 10-5-4 when limiting its opponent to single-digit shot attempts in a match. When scoring two or more goals in a match, Portland has a record of 17-1-4 all-time.


MILESTONES


Defender Kat Williamson and midfielder Allie Long both started their 50th career NWSL match against Houston on June 6. All 50 of Long’s starts have come with Thorns FC. Several other players are approaching 50 career NWSL games play: midfielder/defender Kendall Johnson (45), midfielder Mana Shim (44) and midfielder Sinead Farrelly (41). Additionally, forward Christine Sinclair (45) could become the second player this year to reach 50 career NWSL games played for Thorns FC, joining midfielder Allie Long.


Long tallied her eighth career assist against Washington on May 30, moving into sole possession of second-place on the all-time career assist list, just one behind forward Alex Morgan. Long also remains tied for first place in career goals (16). With two more assists, Long would become the first player to reach double-digit goals and assists for the club. Shim would need two goals and three assists to also reach 10 goals and 10 career assists.


THORNS AT THE WORLD CUP


All eight Thorns FC players helped their respective national teams advance to the knockout stage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup this week.


The United States topped Group D, as forward Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath each earned their first career starts at World Cup in the deciding group match, a 1-0 win over Nigeria.


Canada finished first in Group A, forward Christine Sinclair scored in the team’s opening match, playing every minute in group play. Midfielder Kaylyn Kyle appeared in all three matches, starting the final group game, while defender Rhian Wilkinson made her debut in the tournament against the Netherlands.


Germany also won its group, as Nadine Angerer posted two shutouts in three matches for her country.


Defender Steph Catley (Australia) and forward Jodie Taylor (England) each made their World Cup debuts during the group stage. Catley started all three games for the Matildas as they finished second in the group, while Taylor appeared as a sub for England against Colombia, helping the Lionesses take second-place in their group.