Saturday marks the beginning of the 2014 NWSL season, with the reigning champion Portland Thorns traveling to Houston to take on the Dash. The Thorns have eight returning players from their 2013 campaign, with several newcomers including head coach Paul Riley. The Thorns are promising to be one of the most talent-rich teams in the league, and with Riley's attacking style of play, fans in the Rose City might be in store for an offensive show in 2014. We grabbed some of the season previews for the Thorns from around the country.
Thorns have improved on paper | Equalizer Soccer
EqualizerSoccer.com's Jeff Kassouf runs through the bevy of changes in Portland coming into the season, including the style of play Riley wants to implement and how that changes with new addition Veronica Boquete. Read the full preview here.
"...Providence Park should be a fortress for Portland, who led the league with 13,320 fans per game in 2013, nearly tripling the next-closest team. Whether or not the Thorns improve their home form will determine the success of their ultimate goal: Winning the title on home soil."
Portland capable of winning it all, again |The Oregonian
Geoffrey Arnold of The Oregonian writes about the makeup of the NWSL in its second year and how the Thorns are projected to fare. He also gives a quick overview for all nine teams and a prediction for how the league will shake out top to bottom. Read the full preview here.
"Defending champion Portland has a new coach and a new style of play, but the Thorns added the world player of the year to an already loaded roster and should make a run at a second consecutive title."
NWSL has a chance to bloom in its second year | ESPNW.com
ESPNW.com's Julie Foudy writes about the emergence of the NWSL as a league, and how support from the U.S. Soccer Federation will help the league in its second year. Foudy concentrates on Portland as the shining leader for a league that has a rapidly growing fanbase. Read the full preview here.
"The league is attracting better domestic and foreign players. Some U.S. players who were already playing abroad and chose not to return during last season have had a change of heart, and many are coming home for Year 2..."
USWNT players help preview the 2014 NWSL season | USSoccer.com
Players on the U.S. Women's National Team took time out of practice ahead of their match against China to talk with Studio 90 about what to look for in this season of the NWSL. Check out the video with Thorns players Rachael Van Hollebeke and Tobin Heath.
"I think this second year, you're going to see every team being better, every organization [is going to get] better. I think that's going to increase the level of the competition, [and] also create a really great environment for all the games," -- Tobin Heath.
Houston Dash vs. Portland Thorns game and season preview | Dynamo Theory
Talley Johnson of Houston footy blog Dynamo Theory previews the matchup between the Houston Dash and the Portland Thorns, lending insight not only into the game between the 2013 champs and the expansion Dash, but expectations for the Thorns going into 2014. Read the full preview here.
"Their defense is rock solid. [Portland] succumbed to only 23 goals throughout last season. [New keeper Nadine] Angerer will be a formidable opponent against any forward."