Matchday Preview, Thorns @ Spirit, 7.23.14
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

NWSL Matchday Preview | Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns FC | July 23, 2014

Date: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Kickoff: 4 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex (Boyds, Md.)
Forecast: Scattered thunderstorms, 83 degrees
Referee: Katja Koroleva
Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Hagan Barnett
Fourth Official: Danielle Chesky



Thorns FC face off against the Washington Spirit for the third, and final, time this regular season on Wednesday in a match with playoff implications. Portland sits in third place with 29 points, while Washington and Chicago are tied for fourth place with 27 points each. The top four teams qualify for NWSL playoffs.
Portland plays its third match in the last week on Wednesday after earning a 6-3 win against the Boston Breakers on Sunday at Providence Park. Portland scored four unanswered goals, including three in the second half to secure the victory against Boston and extend its unbeaten streak to five games (2-0-3). Forwards Christine Sinclair (hat-trick), Alex Morgan (2 assists) and Jessica McDonald all scored goals as well as midfielder Allie Long. Thorns FC are 4-0-0 all-time against Washington with a record of 3-0-0 on the road against the Spirit. In the all-time series, Portland has outscored Washington, 12-2, while also posting a pair of shutout victories.


Portland continued its record-breaking ways in a 6-3 victory against the Boston Breakers on Sunday. Thorns FC and Boston set a NWSL record for most combined goals in a match (9), breaking the previous record set back on July 13 as Portland and FC Kansas City combined for eight goals at Providence Park. As a team, Portland set single-season records for goals (36) and assists (26) on Sunday, breaking the previous record of 32 goals and 24 assists set in 2013. Midfielder Verónica Boquete tallied her sixth assist of the season, setting a new Thorns FC single-season record for assists. The previous record was five assists by forward Alex Morgan during the 2013 season. Other notable records set by Portland this season include the fastest goal in NWSL history scored 33 seconds into a match by forward Jessica McDonald on July 17 at Chicago. Back on July 4 against Chicago at Providence Park, McDonald tallied her ninth goal of the season, setting a single-season record for goals, breaking the previous record of eight goals scored by Morgan and Sinclair during the 2013 season. Thorns FC also recorded the largest margin of victory (6) and most goals scored (7) in a 7-1 win against FC Kansas City on July 13.


Led by braces from forwards Alex Morgan and Jessica McDonald, Thorns FC exploded for four second-half goals in a 6-1 win against the Washington Spirit on June 21 at Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. The brace was Morgan’s first with Thorns FC, while McDonald registered her second brace of the season. McDonald entered as a substitute for Morgan in the 82nd minute, tallying her brace with goals in the 85th and 87th minutes of the match. Forward Christine Sinclair scored the opening goal of the match in the fifth minute, while midfielder Alle Long added a goal in extra time to make it 6-1. Goalkeeper Michelle Betos made her second appearance of the season for Thorns FC, earning her second win of the season while tallying four saves in the match.


Washington is coming off a 4-2 loss against Sky Blue FC on Sunday at Yurcak Field. The Spirit trailed 4-0 before scoring two goals in the final two minutes as forward Jodie Taylor scored in the 88th minute and defender Robyn Gayle tallied a goal in the 90th minute. As a team, the Spirit have allowed the second most goals (38) in the league, while conceding multiple goals in 13 of their 19 matches this season. Prior to Sunday’s loss, Washington had claimed at least one point in four straight matches but has just two wins in its last eight matches. The Spirit are led by Taylor’s 10 goals, while midfielder Diana Matheson ranks among the league leaders with seven goals. Matheson is tied for fifth in the league in assists (4) as well. The pair has combined for 17 of the team’s 28 goals this season. Midfielder Christine Nairn is another scoring threat with four goals and two assists for Washington this season.


A Thorns FC player was named NWSL Player of the Week for Week 14 for a second consecutive week as forward Christine Sinclair became the third player for Portland this season to receive this honor. The Canada Women’s National Team captain recorded the first hat-trick in the club’s history and the fourth in NWSL history in Portland’s match against the Boston Breakers on Sunday. Midfielder Verónica Boquete received the honor for Week 14 as well as Week 10, while forward Alex Morgan was named the Player of the Week for Week 11.


Thorns FC are 11-4-7 all-time on the road in all competitions, dating back to the 2013 season. Portland has the second-best road record (3-2-4) in the league in 2014, while conceding just 10 goals on the road this season and posting two shutouts.


Portland has found a spark offensively over the last 10 matches, scoring 26 goals after scoring 10 goals through the first nine matches of the season. Thorns FC lead the league in goals (36), assists (26), shots (300), shots on goal (138) and corner kicks (125). Portland has scored six or more goals in a match three times this season: June 21 at Washington (6), July 13 against FC Kansas City (7) and July 20 against Boston (6).


Forward Jessica McDonald is tied for the league lead with 11 goals, while midfielder Allie Long ranks fifth (9) and forward Christine Sinclair is tied for sixth (7). Midfielder Verónica Boquete is tied for the NWSL lead in assists (6), while forward Alex Morgan is tied for fifth with four assists. Sinclair leads the league in shots (60) and is tied for the lead in shots on goal (31). Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer ranks fourth in the NWSL in saves (58).