NWSL Matchday Preview | Portland Thorns FC vs. Boston Breakers | Apr. 11, 2015



Date: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Providence Park (Portland, Ore.) Forecast: 50 degrees, Rainy
Referee: Margaret Domka
Assistant Referees: Veronica Perez, Desmond Miller Fourth Official: Farhad Dadkho
Webstream: Available via www.portlandthornsfc.com


Opening the regular season at home for the first time in team history, Portland Thorns FC plays the first of back-to-back home contests to begin the 2015 season Saturday against the Boston Breakers; kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (Pacific).

Saturday marks the first time in history that the team will open the regular season at home. Portland is unbeaten in season openers (1-0-1) and 2-0-0 in home openers since the inaugural season in 2013.

In 2014, Thorns FC opened their regular season campaign with a 3-1 win against FC Kansas City on April 26 as midfielder Allie Long tallied the first home goal for Portland. The first-ever home opener took place on April 21, 2013 as Thorns FC defeated Seattle Reign FC by a score of 2-1 on a game-winning goal from forward Alex Morgan.


Thorns FC and Boston met at Providence Park just once during the 2014 season. The two teams combined to set a NWSL single-game record for goals scored in match (9) as Portland registered a 6-3 win on July 20, 2014. Forward Christine Sinclair tallied the first hat-trick in club history, while forward Allie Long and midfielder Alex Morgan each recorded goals in the match.


Boston finished near the bottom of the NWSL in 2014, and is without its top two goal scorers from a season ago in midfielders Heather O’Reilly and Lianne Sanderson, but returns the 2014 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, Alyssa Naeher. The U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper earned the honor by recording a league-best 106 saves last season. Midfielder Katie Schoepfer and midfielder Kristie Mewis return as the team’s leading goal scorers from 2014 with four and three goals, respectively. Boston also acquired Brazilian internationals Rahfinha, Bia, Ketlen and Suzanne Pires, as well as defender Kassey Kallman and forward Morgan Marlborough in a trade that sent O’Reilly to FC Kansas City. In total, Boston added nine new players to their roster for 2015, including a pair of college draft picks in forward Stephanie McCaffrey, who played collegiately at Boston College and spent time in training camp with U.S. Women’s National Team in January, and Pacific Northwest college product Stephanie Verdoia, who played at Seattle University. Both competed with the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team at the La Manga Tournament in Spain this past March.


Thorns FC has a deep and experienced roster that features 11 players with national team experience, including U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan, midfielders Tobin Heath and Allie Long and defender Rachel Van Hollebeke; Canada Women’s National Team forward Christine Sinclair, midfielder Kaylyn Kyle and defender Rhian Wilkinson; England Women’s National Team forward Jodie Taylor, German Women’s National Team goalkeeper Nadine Angerer; Australia National Team defender Steph Catley and newly acquired Equatorial National Team forward Ayo Añonma. Eight of those players have competed with their respective national teams at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The group combined has more than 980 international caps and 256 international goals. Angerer, Van Hollebeke, Sinclair and Wilkinson all have more than 100 international caps.


Thorns FC head into the 2015 season unbeaten in their last five matches (4-0-1) at home, including back-to-back shutouts to close out the 2014 season against Houston (1-0) on Aug. 3 and Seattle Reign FC (1-0) on Aug. 17. Portland is unbeaten in season openers (1-0-1) and 2-0-0 in home openers since the inaugural 2013. At Providence Park, Thorns FC are 12-8-3 all-time, and posted the third best record in the NWSL at home (7-4-1) during the 2014 campaign. Saturday’s match is just the third all-time at home during the month of April since 2013. Portland is unbeaten at home during the month of April (2-0-0) with wins over Seattle Reign FC (2-1, April 21, 2013) and FC Kansas City (3-1, April 26, 2014).


Portland’s roster boasts some of the top young talent in the league with a total of 11 players that are 25 or younger, including six players under the 23 years old or younger: Steph Catley (21), Emily Menges (22), Sarah Robbins (22), Courtney Niemiec (22), Kendall Johnson (23), Mana Shim (23). Five of the six players listed above appeared in a NWSL match in 2014, while Johnson and Shim begin their third professional season. Those 11 players have appeared in a total of 231 NWSL regular-season matches in the league’s first two seasons. Alex Morgan (25), Sinead Farrelly (25), Kat Williamson (25), Johnson and Shim have all played in 30 or more matches in the first two NWSL seasons. Only former Thorns FC defender Nikki Marshall (46 games) and current Thorns FC midfielders Allie Long (44 games) and McCall Zerboni (44 games) have played more NWSL regular season matches than Williamson (43 games).


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