NWSL Match Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs. FC Kansas City at JELD-WEN Field


Match Information
Portland Thorns FC vs. FC Kansas City

Date: Thursday, June 6, 2013

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. (Pacific)

Location: JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)

Forecast: 79 degrees, mostly cloudy

Radio: Freedom 970

Webstream: www.portlandthornsfc.com


Matchday Preview
Thursday’s match marks the second meeting between Portland Thorns FC and FC Kansas City. The game is the second of three straight home matches for Thorns FC and is the first of three consecutive road games in eight days for FC Kansas City. Thorns FC are coming off a 2-0 loss against the Chicago Red Stars on June 1 at JELD-WEN Field. Playing without all four national team players (Alex Morgan, Rachel Buehler, Christine Sinclair, Karina LeBlanc), Thorns FC saw all four shots on goal saved by Red Stars goalkeeper Taylor Vancil in the team’s second loss in nine games. FC Kansas City suffered a 1-0 home loss against league-leading Sky Blue FC on May 25 and did not play over the weekend.

Last Time against FC Kansas City
FC Kansas City and Portland Thorns FC squared off in the first-ever match in National Women’s Soccer League history on April 13 in front of a sellout crowd of 6,784 at Verizon Wireless Field at Shawnee Mission District Stadium. FC Kansas City forward Renae Cuéllar put the home side ahead just three minutes into the match, latching onto a long ball from defender Leigh Ann Robinson and splitting the Thorns FC defense for the opening goal. Thorns FC substitute forward Danielle Foxhoven was fouled in the penalty box in the 66th minute, setting up teammate Christine Sinclair for the game-tying penalty kick in the 67th minute. Sinclair placed the ball low to the right side past FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart to give Portland its first-ever result and point in the NWSL.

Scouting FC Kansas City
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s squad got off to a quick start to the season, stringing together a three-game unbeaten streak (including back-to-back shutouts against Seattle Reign FC on April 26 and May 4). Each of FC Kansas City’s three wins have come via shutout. Lately, FC Kansas City is 1-2-0 over their last three contests. Led by forward Renae Cuéllar’s four goals (8pts), FC Kansas City has played the fewest number of games (6) of any team in the NWSL this season. The club begins a stretch of seven games during the month of June on Thursday against Thorns FC. FC Kansas City plays three straight road games over an eight day span from June 6-13. U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Lauren Cheney ranks second on the team in scoring with two goals and three assists (7pts). The only other player to tally a goal for FC Kansas City this season is midfielder Sinead Farrelly (1g). Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, the starter for the U.S. Women’s National Team in the absence of Hope Solo, ranks third among NWSL goalkeepers with a 0.67 goalsagainst average and three shutouts.

Sesselmann out for FC Kansas City
FC Kansas City and Canadian international defender Lauren Sesselmann will miss Thursday’s match due to a league-imposed, one-game suspension after receiving a red card in a 1-0 home loss against Sky Blue FC. Sesselmann, a regular starter in defense for FC Kansas City, was given the red card after fouling Sky Blue FC forward Lisa De Vanna in the box in the 22nd minute at Verizon Wireless Field at Shawnee Mission District Stadium in Overland Park, Kan. Sky Blue midfielder Sophie Schmidt converted the penalty kick. Sesselmann has started all six of the team’s matches this season, logging 463 minutes at center back.

Keeping it clean
Despite placing second in the league in fouls committed (81) and ranking first in cautions (14 yellow cards), the Thorns FC defensive back line has steered clear of trouble. Rookie defender Kathryn Williamson hasn’t been called for a foul since the 83rd minute of a 1-1 draw with FC Kansas City on April 13. Williamson was booked for the infraction, but hasn’t drawn the referee’s ire for 727 consective minutes. In nine matches, the Thorns FC back line has committed 19 fouls which accounts for just 23.5 percent of all fouls committed by the team.

On Frame
Among league leaders in shots on goal, Alex Morgan ranks second to only Abby Wambach in percent of shots on goal. Wambach has put 12 of her 18 shots on goal (67 percent), while Morgan has put 21 of 33 on goal (64 percent). Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair has managed to send 11 of her 26 shots on frame (42 percent).

LeBlanc on shutout streak
Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc missed the last match due to national team duty, but still maintains an individual streak of two straight shutouts (May 19 and May 25) as well as a 190-minute streak without conceding a goal. As of June 8, LeBlanc ranks first in the league with an 0.50 goals-against average among goalkeepers with more than 180 minutes of action. The Canadian international’s four shutouts is second behind only Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron. LeBlanc also ranks second in the league in saves (29), wins (6) and minutes played (720).

On the road
Thorns FC, in the midst of a three-game homestand, are the only remaining team in the NWSL with an undefeated record away from home. In five road games, Thorns FC have earned a 4-0-1 record while scoring eight goals and conceding just two. Portland has registered three of its four shutouts away from home.

Magic number
Thorns FC are 5-0-0 when scoring two goals this season. In five of the team’s six wins, Portland has tallied two goals, including a streak of four straight wins when scoring twice in a game (April 21-May 12). Portland leads the league with five multi-goal games this season, Sky Blue FC is second with four multi-goal games.

National Team Roundup 
Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan recorded a brace in a two minute span, scoring in the 70th and 72nd minutes in a 3-0 win for the U.S. Women’s National Team against Canada at BMO Field in Toronto on June 2. Abby Wambach and Tobin Heath earn the assists on Morgan’s first and second goal, respectively. Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair played the full 90 minutes for Canada while Thorns FC defender Rachel Buehler (United States) and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc (Canada) did not see action in the match.

Upcoming National Team Games
The U.S. Women’s National Team will play two international friendly matches against South Korea during a busy month of June. The U.S. Women’s National Team squares off against South Korea on June 15 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., followed by another match against South Korea on June 20 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. The Canada Women’s National Team will face Germany on June 19 at Benteler Arena in Paderborn, Germany. Thorns FC have matches on June 16 (home) and June 22 (road).