NWSL Match Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns FC at Maryland SoccerPlex

Match Information
Portland Thorns FC at Washington Spirit
Date: Saturday, May 4, 2013
Kickoff: 4:00 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Maryland SoccerPlex (Boyd, Md.)
Forecast: Mostly sunny, 69 degrees
Radio: Freedom 970
Webstream: www.portlandthornsfc.com

Saturday’s match marks the first meeting between the two sides and Portland’s first trip into the Eastern Time Zone this season after previously traveling to Kansas City (April 13) and Chicago (April 27). Unbeaten in three straight games, Thorns FC have scored five goals as the combination of U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan and Canada Women’s National Team forward Christine Sinclair have combined for three goals and two assists already this season.

The Spirit, led by midfielder Diana Matheson’s two goals, have had an up-and- down start to the season. Washington conceded a stoppage-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw against the Boston Breakers (April 14), earned a come-from-be- hind 1-1 draw with Western New York (April 20) and surrendered an early goal to start each half of a 2-1 loss to Sky Blue FC (April 27) through three games.

Scoring Diversity
Thorns FC have received four of their five goals from different players this season. Forward Christine Sinclair leads the team with two goals, while forwards Alex Morgan, Danielle Foxhoven and defender Marian Dougherty have scored one apiece. Portland’s four different goal scorers leads the league, one ahead of Western New York (3 different scorers). Foxhoven tallied the team’s first goal from a substitute in the 70th minute of a 2-0 road win at Chicago on April 27. Here’s a look at the club’s goal-scoring breakdown by roster status: Allocated Player - 3 (Sinclair 2, Morgan); Discovery Player - 1 (Foxhoven); NWSL Supplemental Draft - 1 (Dougherty).

An NWSL First
On April 27, Thorns FC midfielder Elizabeth Guess became the first National Women’s Soccer League player to appear in a regular-season game for two different teams this season. Acquired off waivers by Portland on April 24, Guess registered a game-tying assist for the Boston Breakers on April 14. The two-time NCAA national champion at the University of North Carolina then made her Thorns FC debut on April 27 as an 89th-minute substitute for forward Alex Morgan.

Back to the District
Portland midfielder Allie Long and defender Nikki Marshall each played in the Washington, D.C. area during Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). Long was the seventh-overall pick by the Washington Freedom in the 2009 WPS Draft and logged 31 appearances and four goals in two seasons (‘09, ‘10). Marshall, the seventh-overall pick in the 2010 WPS Draft, notched three goals in 25 games for the Freedom during the 2010 WPS season.

Portland Thorns FC and the Washington Spirit are the only two teams in the league to start the inaugural NWSL season with the same starting XI in the first three matches of the season. Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone has utilized the same starting lineup in all three matches as Portland has earned a 2-0-1 (7pts) record. Washington Spirit head coach Mike Jorden ran out the same starting XI in three straight matches to begin the season as the Spirit have earned an 0-1-2 (2pts) record this season. Canadian international midfielder Diana Matheson has scored in back- to-back games for Washington. Matheson scored the game-winning goal for Canada in the 2012 London Olympics bronze-medal match against France, netting the winner in the 92nd minute.

Streaking Forwards
Thorns FC forwards Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan enter the weekend on an early-season scoring streak. Sinclair, the former standout at the University of Portland, and the world’s No. 3 all-time goal-scorer in women’s international soccer, has earned at least a point in three straight matches for Thorns FC. Sinclair, who is tied for the league lead with five points, netted an insur- ance goal in the 81st minute of a 2-0 win against the Chicago Red Stars on April 27, assisted on Morgan’s 52nd-minute goal against Seattle Reign FC on April 21 and scored the game-tying goal on a second-half penalty kick on April 13 against FC Kansas City. Morgan has recorded at least a point in back-to-back matches. She scored her first goal on April 21 against Seattle Reign FC and added an assist on Sinclair’s goal against Chicago on April 27.