NWSL Match Preview | Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns FC | June 21, 2014

Date: Saturday, June 21, 2014
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex (Boyds, Md.) Forecast: 72 degrees, chance of rain
Referee: Kristen Salazar
Assistant Referees: Karen Abt, Jeffrey Skinner Fourth Official: Paul Ciaramitaro

Match Preview

Portland Thorns FC will play the first of two matches on the road this season against the Washington Spirt on Saturday, June 21 at Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex; kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (Pacific).

Thorns FC played host to the Spirit on Sunday at Providence Park earning a 2-0 victory behind goals from forward Jessica McDonald and midfielder Verónica Boquete. Goalkeeper Michelle Betos made her first start for Portland, registering a clean sheet and her first NWSL win in a Thorns uniform.

Portland enters Saturday’s match with a record of 3-0-0 all-time against the Spirit. Thorns FC have outscored Washington, 6-1, in those three meetings, scoring two goals in each of the previous matches. Portland has a record of 10-3-5 all-time on the road in all competitions, dating back to the 2013 season.

Last time at Washington

Last season, Thorns FC earned a 2-1 victory at Maryland SoccerPlex on May 4, 2013, in the team’s fourth game of the inaugural NWSL season and its only road game against the Washington Spirit in 2013. Forward Alex Morgan scored the first goal of the match from the penalty spot in 12th minute. Saturday’s match marks the first of two meetings on the road against the Spirit in 2014. The two teams will meet for the final time during the regular season on July 23.

Early goal sparks 2-0 win over Spirit

Thorns FC scored in the 11th minute, the earliest goal in a game this season, as forward Jessica McDonald found space behind the Washington defense, receiving a through ball from midfielder Amber Brooks and finishing from close range to put Portland ahead 1-0. Boquete doubled Thorns FC’s lead in the 78th minute, dribbling around the Washington defense and firing a shot from inside the box past Washington goalkeeper Chantel Jones. Portland kept its third clean sheet of the season and its first at home in 2014, limiting the Spirit to one shot on goal.

Scoring chances

Portland tallied a season-high 22 shots in Sunday’s match which ranks as the second-most shots in a single game in club history. Thorns FC tallied 25 shots against Sky Blue on July 31, 2013. Portland registered double-digit shot attempts for the seventh consecutive game on Sunday and has now tallied double-digit shot attempts in 10 of 11 matches this season. Thorns FC leads the league in shots (181) and ranks second in shots on goal (80).

Scouting the Washington Spirit

The Washington Spirit recorded just eight shots on Sunday in a 2-0 loss against Thorns FC at Providence Park, while goalkeeper Chantel Jones made her second consecutive start recording seven saves.

The Spirit were without four players on Sunday who were away on international duty. First-choice goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and defender Ali Krieger (U.S.) and midfielder Diana Matheson and defender Robyn Gayle (Canada). Defender Crystal Dunn missed the game due to injury. Washington announced that they acquired German international midfielder Kerstin Garefrekes on loan and Australian international Lisa DeVanna in a trade with the Boston Breakers earlier this week.

Matheson remains among the league leaders in goals (5), while forward Jodie Taylor has six goals to lead the team. Midfielder Christine Nairn is the only other player for the Spirit with multiple goals (3) this season.

Washington is unbeaten in its last three games at Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex with a record of 3-2-1 at home in 2014.

NWSL Player of the Week

Thorns FC midfielder Verónica Boquete was named NWSL Player of the Week on June 17 for her performance during Week 10 of the 2014 season. The Spanish National Team captain scored her first Thorns FC goal in the 78th minute after her shot in the 70th minute hit the left post. Boquete finished the match with three shots (2 on goal), earning her second consecutive start in as many games and playing all 90 minutes. Boquete made her first appearance with Portland on June 7, joining the team earlier that week after finishing her season with Swedish club Tyresö FF.

Young defense

Starting rookie defenders Emily Menges and Courtney Niemiec alongside Nikki Marshall and Kat Tarr started five straight games in the backline (May 10-28) for an average age of 24 years old. Steph Catley, 20, earned her first start for Thorns FC on June 7 bringing the average age of the baclkine to 22.25 years old. Menges, Niemiec and Catley are all under the age of 23 and in their first year in the NWSL.

National Team round up

Forward Alex Morgan, midfielders Allie Long and Tobin Heath and defender Rachel Van Hollebeke were away on international duty with the United States for two games against France on June 14 and 19.

Morgan, a substitute in both matches, scored her 45th and 46th goals, passing Julie Foudy (45 goals) for 10th on the all-time goal scoring list, recording a brace on Thursday night in a 2-2 draw against France. A 49th minute sub on June 14, Morgan played her first international match of 2014 and made her first appearance since November 2013 for the United States.

Long earned her second and third caps with the U.S. Women’s National Team, starting in both matches. She went the full 90 minutes in a 1-0 win on June 14, while tallying her first assist with the senior national team on Morgan’s goal in the 56th minute on Thursday.

Heath featured in the United States first match and came in as a second-half substitute on Thursday night, registering the assist on Morgan’s game-tying goal in the 85th minute.

Van Hollebeke was part of the 18 for the June 14 match but was not on the bench on Thursday night.

On Wednesday, goalkeeper Nadine Angerer led Germany to a 2-1 victory over forward Christine Sinclair’s Canadian side in a friendly in Vancouver, B.C. Both players captained their sides, starting and playing all 90 minutes.