Matchday Preview, Thorns @ Dash, 6.6.15


MATCH INFORMATION


Date: Saturday, June 6, 2015
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston, Texas)
Forecast: Sunny, 93 degrees
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referees: Veronica Perez, Francisco Bermudez Fourth Official: Christa Dorsey
Webstream: Available via www.portlandthornsfc.com


MATCH DAY PREVIEW


Portland Thorns FC close out their two-game road swing against the Houston Dash on Saturday, June 6, at BBVA Compass Stadium; kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. (Pacific).


The match is Portland’s final match before a mandatory league-wide break during the group stage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. It is Portland’s second match against Houston in its last three and the team’s four road match in its last six.


In the previous meeting between the two clubs, Thorns FC dominated the stat sheet with an 18-4 advantage in shots, while limiting the Dash to just two shots on goal, including zero in the second half. But Houston grabbed an early goal through forward Jessica McDonald to secure a 1-0 win and claim its first win in the all-time series.


LAST MATCH RECAP


In Portland’s last match, forward Ayo tallied her first career NWSL and Thorns FC goal in a 2-1 loss on the road against the Washington Spirit on May 30. Goalkeeper Michelle Betos made her third consecutive start, recording eight saves in the match, equaling her NWSL career high in a single match. Ayo opened the scoring for Portland in the 18th minute, making a well-timed run into the box she received a through ball from midfielder Allie Long and placed her shot into the bottom left corner of the goal. Washington answered scoring two goals in a span of three minutes and Thorns FC were unable to find an equalizer late in the match despite two corner kicks in the final minute of stoppage time.


SERIES HISTORY


Portland has a record of 3-1-0 all-time against the Dash, including a pair of wins on the road in 2014. Defensively, Portland has limited Houston to single-digit shot attempts in each of the last three meetings. In the last meeting on May 23 at Providence Park, Thorns FC held Houston to a season-low four shots in the match, allowing just one shot in the second half. Portland recorded an 18-4 advantage in shots in the match, but Houston got the eventual game winner from forward Jessica McDonald early in the match and held on for a 1-0 win. It marked the fourth straight match between the two teams that has ended with a 1-0 result. Midfielder Allie Long scored the first-ever goal in the all-time series in a 1-0 victory on April 14, 2014 at BBVA Compass Stadium.


SCOUTING THE DASH


Houston (2-2-3, 9pts) comes into Saturday’s match unbeaten in its last three games (1-0-2), including a 1-1 draw on the road against Sky Blue FC on May 31. The Dash fell behind 1-0 just 11 minutes into the match as Sky Blue FC midfielder Hayley Haagsma tallied the opening goal. Houston had an opportunity to level the match in the 76th minute after being awarded a penalty kick, but McDonald had her kick from the spot saved by Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron. In the final minutes of the match, second-half substitute Allie Bailey tallied the equalizer, helping Houston secure a point on the road. McDonald ranks tied for third in the NWSL in goals (4), while forward Kealia Ohai had tallied two goals this season and two assists. Goalkeeper Bianca Henninger has stepped in with Canadian international Erin McLeod away for the World Cup. Henninger ranks second in the NWSL in shutouts (2) and third in saves (24).


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.


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 (70) and shots on goal (36) in the league this season. Portland has surrendered nine shots or less in four of its seven matches this season, while limiting four of their seven opponents to five or less shots on goal, including three opponents to just two shots on goal.


STREAKS


Midfielder McCall Zerboni has started 22 consecutive NWSL regular-season matches, dating back to her 2014 campaign with Western New York. She recorded a stretch of 1,957 minutes consecutive regular season minutes played. Defender Emily Menges has played 1,169 straight minutes without committing a foul during regular season play.


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 Portland’s seven matches this season. Additionally, Long ranks fourth in the league in shots (19) and third in shots on goal (12). Among currently active NWSL players ranked in the top 10 in scoring, Long is tied for the best shots on goal percentage (63). Long also ranks among the top 10 in the league with two assists.


GOALS IN BUNCHES


When scoring two or more goals, Portland has a record of 17-1-4 all-time and are 6-0-1 all-time when scoring at least two goals in a road game. Thorns FC have scored two or more goals in 42 percent of their NWSL regular-season matches.


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, with a record of 4-0-3 in road contests 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 16-8-8 all- time when outshooting their opponents in a match and own a record of 6-2-5 in road matches with an advantage in shots. Also, Portland is 10-5-4 when limiting its opponent to single-digit shot attempts in a match.


THORNS AT THE WORLD CUP


Thorns FC will be well represented at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada this summer. Eight players from five different countries have been named to their respective countries roster for the upcoming tournament.


Forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Tobin Heath will represent the United States for a second consecutive World Cup.


Forward Christine Sinclair, midfielder Kaylyn Kyle and defender Rhian Wilkinson will represent Canada on their home soil. It will be Sinclair and Wilkinson’s fourth World Cup and Kyle’s second of her career.


Germany Women’s National Team goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was named to her fifth FIFA Women’s World Cup roster. Both Angerer and Sinclair will captain their respective nations teams.


Two Thorns FC players are set to make their World Cup debuts, Australia Women’s National Team defender Steph Catley and England Women’s National Team forward Jodie Taylor. The group has combined to score 233 international goals and has 835 career caps, collectively.