Thorns preview 7.9.14

NWSL Matchday Preview: Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns FC | July 9, 2014

Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns FC
Date: Wednesday, July 9,, 2014
Kickoff: 5 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Benedictine Sports Complex (Lisle, Ill)
Forecast: 78 degrees, sunny
Referee: Boris Senic
Assistant Referees: Ben Wooten, Rachel Smith Fourth Official: Nikola Aleksic

Match Preview

Portland travels to Chicago for a midweek match on Wednesday, July 9, at Benedictine Sports Complex in Lisle, Ill.; kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. The match is one of two regular-season meetings on the road against the Red Stars in the next two weeks. The two teams will meet for the final time during the regular season on July 17.

In the last meeting, Thorns FC scored two first-half goals, but conceded two goals in the final 15 minutes in a 2-2 draw against Chicago on July 4 at Providence Park.

Portland is 2-1-2 all-time against Chicago, including a mark of 2-0-0 on the road. Thorns FC won both meetings in Chicago last season by a score of 2-0 on April 27, 2013 and May 12, 2013. Dating back to the 2013 season, Portland is 11-4-5 all time on the road in all competitions.

Last time against Chicago

Meeting for the first time this season, Thorns FC and the Chicago Red Stars played to a 2-2 draw on July 4 at Providence Park. Forward Jessica McDonald and defender Sarah Huffman scored first-half goals for Portland, but Chicago forward Christen Press tallied a second-half brace in the final 15 minutes of the match. McDonald’s goal, her team-leading ninth of the season, came in the 24th minute. Defender Rachel Van Hollebeke deflected a ball off midfielder Allie Long’s corner kick to McDonald, who placed the ball into the upper left corner from near the penalty spot. Defender Sarah Huffman doubled the lead in the 39th minute, receiving the ball from midfielder Verónica Boquete off a short corner in the box. Huffman settled the ball and finished inside the left post for her first goal of the season.

On the road

Thorns FC are 11-4-5 all time on the road in all competitions, dating back to the 2013 season. Portland has continued its strong road form in 2014 with a record of 3-2-2 away from Providence Park. In 20 road matches since 2013, Thorns FC have outscored their opponents, 28-17. Portland has conceded multiple goals on the road just four times and registered eight shutouts. This season, midfielder Allie Long has scored three of her five goals on the road, while forward Christine Sinclair has tallied two of her three goals away from the Rose City. Thorns FC is 2-0-0 all-time on the road against the Red Stars.

At Chicago

Portland won both meetings on the road against Chicago during the 2013 season with 2-0 victories on April 27, 2013 and May 12. 2013. Thorns FC scored two first-half goals, including the fastest goal in club history, scored by forward Alex Morgan in the third minute of the match on May 12. Collecting a through pass from defender Nikki Marshall, Morgan carried the ball deep into the left side of the penalty box before firing a left-footed effort that beat the Chicago goalkeeper at the near post. Midfielder Allie Long provided the second goal of the match in the 35th minute, finishing a cross in stride from close range. Portland scored two goals in an 11-minute span to earn a victory in the team’s third match of the inaugural NWSL season. Forward Christine Sinclair scored the second goal of the match in the 81st minute as Morgan found Sinclair unmarked near the edge of the box. Sinclair calmly slotted a right-footed shot inside the far post.

Scouting Chicago

Chicago will play just its sixth home match of the 2014 season this week after finishing a three-game road trip last week in Portland. The Red Stars host their first home match since June 15 on Wednesday. Chicago has played the fewest home matches of any team in the NWSL this season. The Red Stars are 2-2-1 at home and have conceded just four goals. As a team this season, Chicago is tied for second in the league in fewest goals allowed (17). Rory Dames’ club has no players ranked among the league leaders in goals or assists, but 11 different players have scored goals for Chicago this season; the most of any team in the NWSL this season. Six different players have scored two or more goals for the Red Stars led by forward Jen Hoy’s four goals and two assists. Forward Lori Chalupny has tallied three goals. Midfielders Vanessa DiBernardo and Adriana Leon are tied for the team lead with three assists. Goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc is among the league leaders with a 1.00 goals-against average and three shutouts.

Record-setting performance

Forward Jessica McDonald set a new single-season club record for goals tallying her ninth goal of the season against Chicago on July 4. McDonald broke the previous record of eight goals set by forwards Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair during the 2013 season. Adding to the list of record-setting performances, McDonald became the second player in club history to score two braces in a season. Forward Christine Sinclair accomplished this feat in 2013. Both of Mc- Donald’s braces this season were scored within a span of less than five minutes. She scored consecutive goals against FC Kansas City on April 26 in the 84th and 88th minutes and came on as a second-half substitute, scoring goals in the 85th and 87th minutes against the Washington Spirit on June 21.

Scoring chances

Portland has registered double-digit shot attempts in 13 of 15 matches this season. Forward Christine Sinclair leads the NWSL in shots (50) and is tied for second in shots on goal (26). Forward Jessica McDonald ranks among the top five in the league in both categories with 43 shots and 24 shots on goal. As a team, Thorns FC lead the league in shots (243) and rank second in shots on goal (113). Portland is averaging 16.2 shots per match this season. Thorns FC have attempted a league-leading 107 corner kicks.

Dog days of summer

July is a busy month for Thorns FC as the team will play a total of seven games in 24 days, traveling more than 14,000 miles round trip. The month includes four games away from Providence Park and three games against the Chicago Red Stars. July begins with back-to-back games against Chicago as the two teams meet twice in a span of six days and three times in 14 days. Twice this month, Portland is on the road for a midweek game before returning to play a weekend home match. Three of the team’s last four matches during the month are on the road. The team’s final four games from July 17-27 include multiple long road trips. Thorns FC will travel approximately 10,190 miles during that stretch, flying over 2,000 miles one way to both Chicago and Washington D.C., before making the short trip to Seattle (173 miles).