NWSL Match Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs. Boston Breakers at JELD-WEN Field

Match Information
Portland Thorns FC vs. Boston Breakers
Date: Saturday, July 6, 2013
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Oregon)
Webstream: www.portlandthornsfc.com
Radio: Freedom 970 
Forecast: 90 degrees, partly cloudy

Portland Thorns FC and the Boston Breakers square off for the first time during the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season on Saturday at JELD-WEN Field. The game is the only match between the two clubs in the Rose City, as Thorns FC will travel to play Boston in each of the next two meetings (July 21; Aug. 7). Thorns FC enters Saturday’s match coming off a two-game road trip that saw the club earn an 0-1-1 record with a scoreless draw against Sky Blue FC (June 22) and a 2-0 loss at FC Kansas City (June 30). Portland is 2-1-1 in its last five games and currently sits in second place in the NWSL standings.

Boston snapped a five-game winless streak on June 30 with a 3-2 win against league leaders Sky Blue FC and followed that up with a come-from-behind 1-1 draw at Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday. Head coach Lisa Cole’s squad is on the outside looking in of the fifth, and final, spot to the NWSL playoffs with the second half of the season left.

Scouting the Breakers
The Boston Breakers travel to Portland looking to add to their unbeaten streak after a tough six games played in June. Saturday’s match marks the second of three consecutive away matches for the Breakers over the period of ten days beginning the month of July. After falling winless for five consecutive matches from June 1-26, the Breakers snapped the streak on June 30 with a 3-2 win over first-place Sky Blue FC. Standout forward Sydney Leroux scored two goals, while Mariah Noguiera put in one, just her second goal of the season. On Wednesday, Boston earned a game-tying goal from Leroux in a come-from-behind 1-1 draw against at Seattle Reign FC.

Leroux, a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, scored her eighth goal of the season in the 63rd minute to help lead the Breakers to a draw in Seattle. Leroux is tied for the league lead in goals, while English international forward Lianne Sanderson ranks first in the NWSL with seven assists.

NWSL Transactions
It was a busy start to Week 13 of the National Women’s Soccer League season as several teams made moves entering the second half of the schedule. On Monday, the Washington Spirit fired head coach Mike Jorden, replacing him with Spirit W-League coach Mark Parsons. Additionally, the Spirit traded a 2014 second-round draft pick to Seattle for forward Lindsay Taylor. The forward made six appearanc- es (4 starts), scoring one goal for Reign FC. Seattle also made another trade on Monday, acquiring Mexico Women’s National Team forward Renae Cuellar and a 2014 third-round draft pick from FC Kansas City in exchange for Mexico Women’s National Team midfielder Teresa Noyola, the rights to defender Nikki Krzysik and a 2014 second-round draft pick. Cuellar was FC Kansas City’s second-leading scorer with five goals in 11 games.

Breakers Trade For Moscato
On June 30, continuing a busy two-day stretch of roster changes for the Breakers, Boston acquired Canada Women’s National Team defender Carmelina Moscato from the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for Canada Women’s National Team forward Adriana Leon. Moscato made five appearances (4 starts) for the Red Stars, including playing the full 90 minutes in two matches against Thorns FC (April 27, May 12). Leon scored one goal in six appearances (1 start) for Boston. Moscato made her Breakers debut in a 1-1 draw at Seattle on Wednesday, entering the match as a late sub in the 88th minute.

Breakers Sign Defender Avant
On June 29, the Boston Breakers signed former Thorns FC defender Jazmyne Avant. The 23-year-old left back made four appearances (2 starts) for Thorns FC during the inaugural NWSL season. Starting and playing 90 minutes in her Boston debut on June 30, Avant earned an assist on the game’s opening goal scored by Sydney Leroux in the 29th minute. Avant also played 90 minutes for the Breakers in a 1-1 draw at Seattle on Wednesday.

Super Sub
Thorns FC forward Danielle Foxhoven ranks third on the team in scoring with three goals this season, all of which have come as a second-half substitute. Foxhoven, who scored in the 48th minute of a 4-3 win against FC Kansas City on June 6 as a halftime sub, has appeared in 12 of the team’s 13 games - 11 times off the bench. The former University of Portland standout has scored at a clip of .69 goals per 90 minutes, which ranks first on the team.

Solid Defense
Through 13 games, Thorns FC have allowed the fewest number of first-half goals (4) in the NWSL. Conversely, Saturday’s opponent - Boston - has allowed the second-highest number of first-half goals (10) through 13 games this season. Overall, Thorns FC have conceded 11 goals in 13 games which ranks as the league’s best defense. The Western New York Flash, who visit JELD-WEN Field on July 14, have conceded 13 overall goals in the same number of games. Portland goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc ranks first in the league with a 0.75 goals-against average. LeBlanc’s six shutouts also rank as a tie for first overall with FC Kansas City’s Nicole Barnhart and Sky Blue FC’s Brittany Cameron.

Among League Leaders
Through 13 games in the inaugural NWSL season, several Thorns FC players rank among league leaders in several statistical categories. Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan leads the league in both shots (43) and shots on goal (26), despite missing two matches while on international duty. Morgan’s team-high five goals ranks tied for fourth overall in the NWSL. As a team, Portland is fifth in goals (18), but first in goal defense - conceding a league-low 11 goals in 13 games.

Holding a Lead
Thorns FC are the only team in the NWSL that has yet to concede a lead this season. Portland, 8-0-0 when scoring first, is the lone remaining squad that has not allowed an opponent to come back for a tie or win in a match.

Attendance in Context
Through six home games, Portland has earned an average attendance number of 12,857 at JELD-WEN Field. The number is impressive when put in larger context. When placed alongside Major League Soccer attendance numbers, Thorns FC draw larger average crowds than Chivas USA and just slightly less than the Chicago Fire (12,955). Worldwide based on 2012-13 attendance, Thorns FC outdraw seven men’s teams in the Dutch Eredivisie (Netherlands), five teams in Ligue 1 (France), three teams in Serie A (Italy) and England’s npower Championship (the step below the Premier League) and two teams in La Liga (Spain).

Magic Number
Thorns FC are 7-0-0 when scoring two or more goals this season. In seven of the team’s eight wins, Portland has tallied two or more goals, including a streak of four straight wins when scoring twice in a game (April 21-May 12). When scoring the first goal, Thorns FC are an undefeated 8-0-0.

Breakers Without Simon
The Breakers will play Saturday’s match without Australian international forward Kyah Simon due to international duty. Simon, who has two goals and an assist in 10 appearances for Boston, started and played 90 minutes in a 1-0 loss to ADO Den Haag on July 2. Australia, known as “The Matildas” also lost 3-1 to the Netherlands on June 29, and face France on Saturday at Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris in the third and final international friendly of their European tour.