NWSL Match Preview: Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns FC at Benedictine Sports Complex

Match Information
Portland Thorns FC at. Chicago Red Stars
 Saturday, April 27, 2013
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Benedictine Sports Complex (Lisle, Ill.)
Forecast: Partly cloudy, 66 degrees
Radio: Freedom 970
Webstream: www.portlandthornsfc.com

Saturday’s match marks the first of four meetings between Portland Thorns FC and the Chicago Red Stars. The game, played at Benedictine Sports Complex in suburban Lisle, Ill., is one of two contests between the clubs in the next three weeks. Following an away match at the Washington Spirit on May 4, Thorns FC return to Chicago for another game on Sunday, May 12.

Portland is coming off a 2-1 win over Seattle Reign FC on April 21 in the team’s home-opener before a record crowd of 16,479 fans at JELD-WEN Field. Defender Marian Dougherty, a former member of the Chicago Red Stars, and forward Alex Morgan tallied goals on each side of halftime in the win.

The Red Stars enter Saturday’s match following a bye week. Chicago kicked off the season on April 14 with 1-1 draw against Seattle Reign FC. After going down a goal in the opening 10 minutes, the Red Stars leveled the match through a 25th-minute goal from Lori Chalupny.

Saturday is the second of consecutive home games for Chicago before the team heads out on a two-game road trip May 4-8.

Thorns FC is embarking on a three-game road swing beginning Saturday. From Chicago, Thorns FC will then play on the road at Washington on May 4 before returning to Chicago for a match on May 12.

No Stranger to Chicago
Thorns FC defender Marian Dougherty is no stranger to the Windy City, having played for the Chicago Red Stars during the 2009 and 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) seasons. Dougherty was drafted in the third round (20th overall) of the 2009 WPS General Draft by the Red Stars and appeared in 16 games (all starts) during the inaugural WPS season. During the 2010 WPS season, Dougherty appeared in every minute of all 24 games (2,160 minutes) and earned her first career professional goal on Sept. 1, 2010, in a 2-0 win against the Philadelphia Independence. Dougherty was a teammate of current Red Stars forward Ella Masar (2009-10) and defender Michelle Wenino (2009).

Thorns FC Acquire Guess
On Wednesday, Thorns FC announced the signing of midfielder Elizabeth Guess off waivers. Guess appeared in one game for the Boston Breakers 
this season, assisting on forward Sydney Leroux’s stoppage-time equalizer in a season-opening 1-1 draw against the Washington Spirit April 14. Before joining the NWSL, she appeared in 11 matches across all competitions for Dutch club ADO Den Haag during the 2012-13 season, recording four goals. A two-time national champion at North Carolina (2003-06), Guess ranks among the program’s Top 40 all-time in goals (32), assists (35) and points (99).

All-Canadian Goalkeeping
Saturday’s match is expected to feature an all-Canadian pairing in goal for Chicago and Portland as Red Stars goalkeeper Erin McLeod and Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc have served as the country’s top two keepers for nearly 10 years. LeBlanc has earned more than 100 internationals caps for Canada and was selected to four FIFA Women’s World Cup rosters (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011) and two Olympic Games (2008, 2012). Chicago’s McLeod has made 87 appearances for Canada, and was part of team rosters for the three FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments (2003, 2007, 2012) and two Olympic Games (2008, 2012). The experienced goalkeeping duo has provided Canada with two very competent options in goal.

Streaking Sinclair
Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair enters the weekend as the league’s leader in points (3) with one goal and one assist. The former standout at the University of Portland, and the world’s No.
3 all-time goal-scorer in women’s international soccer, Sinclair has earned at least a point in consecutive matches for Thorns FC. Sinclair scored the game-tying goal on a second-half penalty kick on April 13 against FC Kansas City and added an assist on Alex Morgan’s 52nd-minute goal April 21 against Seattle.