NWSL Match Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs. Seattle Reign FC at JELD-WEN Field

Match Information
Portland Thorns FC vs. Seattle Reign FC
 Saturday, April 21, 2013
Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: JELD-WEN Field
Forecast: Partly cloudy, 59 degrees
Radio: Freedom 970
Webstream: www.portlandthornsfc.com

Portland Thorns FC and Seattle Reign FC kick off a new aspect to the already fierce Pacific Northwest rivlary between the two neighboring cities. Already established on the men’s side through the Timbers and Sounders in Major League Soccer, Thorns FC and Seattle are poised to create another face to the Cascadia clash in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Thorns FC are coming off a season-opening 1-1 draw against FC Kansas City on April 13 in the NWSL’s inaugural match at Shawnee Mission District Stadium in Overland Park, Kan. Forward Christine Sinclair tallied a game- tying penalty kick in the 67th minute to help Portland complete a second-half comeback for the draw. Sinclair finished with a team-high two shots on goal, forward Alex Morgan registered two shots and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made two saves for Thorns FC in the team’s first game.
Seattle earned a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Red Stars on April 14 in its season-opening match at Benedictine Sports Complex in Lisle, Ill. After grabbing a 1-0 lead through forward Christine Nairn’s diving header in front of goal in the 10th minute, Chicago equalized in the 25th minute as Lori Chalupny finished off a flicked-on header from Ella Masar.
Sunday’s match marks the first of four meetings between the league’s two West Coast clubs. Portland travels to face Seattle at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash., on May 25 and Aug. 17. Following Sunday’s game, Seattle makes one additional trip to the Rose City on June 16.
Portland embarks on a three-game road swing after Sunday’s home opener. The team heads to Chicago (April 27), Washington, D.C. (May 4) and back to Chicago (May 12) in consecutive weeks.

Portland Connections
Sunday’s match will feature a distinct Portland flair as Thorns FC features three former standouts from the University of Portland women’s soccer team in forwards Christine Sinclair (2001-02, 04-05), Danielle Foxhoven (2008-11) and midfielder Angie Kerr (2003, 2004-07). For Seattle, defender Elli Reed (2007-10) and midfielder Keelin Winters (2007-10) starred for the Pilots.

U-20 Women's World Cup Reunion
When Portland and Seattle match up on Sunday, eight players from the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup-winning United States squad could potentially see playing time. Seattle’s Reed, Winters, Christine Nairn and Kiersten Dallstream were members of the 2008 championship-winning U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team, alongside Thorns FC players Alex Morgan, Nikki Marshall, Nikki Washington and Becky Edwards. All except Dallstream were starters in the championship match, a 2-1 win against North Korea, in which Morgan scored and Marshall earned Woman of the Match honors.

Buckle Down Defense
Following the opening weekend of NWSL matches, Thorns FC rank second in the league in fewest shots on goal allowed, conceding just three against FC Kansas City in the first-ever match of the NWSL on April 13. The only other team to allow fewer shots on goal in Week 1 was the Chicago Red Stars (1 shot on goal allowed vs. Seattle). Despite being outshot 10-7 during the season-opening draw, Thorns FC finished with the advantage in shots on goal with a 4-3 edge on FC Kansas City. Through Week 1, Portland also ranks tied for third in the league in fewest shots allowed (10). Only Chicago (3) and FC Kansas City (7) conceded fewer shots, while Washington also allowed 10 shots.