NWSL Matchday Preview | Western New York Flash vs. Portland Thorns FC | Sept. 4, 2015


Date: Friday, Sept. 4, 2015
Kickoff: 4 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Sahlen’s Stadium (Rochester, N.Y.)
Forecast: Sunny, 81 degrees
Referee: Karen Abt
Assistant Referees: Amanda Ross, Jennifer Garner
Fourth Official: Christopher Trottier
Webstream on www.portlandthornsfc.com.


Portland Thorns FC close out the 2015 NWSL season on the road against the Western New York Flash on Friday, Sept. 4, at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, N.Y.; kickoff is set for 4 p.m. (Pacific). Thorns FC are 2-0-0 all-time in their final regular-season matches, dating back to 2013. Portland earned a  1-0 win against Seattle on Aug. 17, 2014, on the final day of the regular season as forward Alex Morgan scored the gamewinning goal at Providence Park. In 2013, Portland finished out the regular season with a road match against Seattle on Aug. 17 as forward Christine Sinclair registered a brace in a 2-1 victory.


Thorns FC rallied from a two-goal halftime deficit, tallying three goals in the second half of a thrilling 3-3 draw against the Washington Spirit on Aug. 30 in front of a sellout crowd of 21,144 at Providence Park. Midfielder Tobin Heath and forward Alex Morgan each tallied their first goals of the season in the match, while midfielder Lianne Sanderson earned her first career start for the club and registered her first point and assist. After going down 2-0, Portland pushed to equalize, outshooting the Spirit 17-6 in the second half. Thorns FC scored in the 53rd and 71st minute and briefly took the lead through forward Jodie Taylor in the 80th minute, but Washington forward Crystal Dunn registered her second goal of the game less than a minute later to level the score. Portland created several quality chances in the final 10 minutes and Taylor missed a curling effort just wide of the left post in second-half stoppage time.


Western New York enters Friday’s match having played four of their last five games on the road. The Flash claimed a point on the road against Chicago on Aug. 23, but dropped a 2-0 decision at home to the Red Stars on Aug. 29. Three of the Flash’s five wins have come at home this season, including wins against playoff-bound Chicago and Washington. Western New York will be without their top goal scorer on Friday, Lynn Williams (4g, 4a) after the forward had surgery on her right knee. Rookie midfielder Sam Mewis is one of four Flash players to start every game this season and has tallied three goals and three assists. Midfielder Becky Edwards has played every minute for the Flash this season, tallying two goals and three assists.


Friday’s match is the third of the season and the eighth all-time between Thorns FC and the Flash. Portland has posted a record of 3-1-3 in the all time regular-season series. Portland has won each of the previous meetings this season, including a 2-0 win on the road on July 29, capturing its first-ever win on the road against Western New York. Midfielder Allie Long has scored in each of the last two meetings with the Flash. Defensively, Portland has allowed just one goal in three regular-season meetings at Sahlen’s Stadium. Goalkeeper Michelle Betos earned the shutout win and tallied four saves in Portland’s win on July 29.


Portland is 21-2-5 all-time when scoring first in a match, including a record of 4-1-0 this season. Thorns FC are 14-0-5 all-time when leading at the half and 26-6-10 when leading or tied at half. Thorns FC are 19-9-11 all-time when outshooting their opponents in a match. Also, Portland is 12- 6-5 when limiting its opponent to single-digit shot attempts in a match. When scoring two or more goals in a match, Portland has a record of 21-1-5 all-time.


Midfielder Allie Long and defender Kat Williamson are the only two players to appear in every match this season for Portland. Long has played all but seven minutes this season, while Wiliamson has logged 1,660 minutes and has committed just four fouls. Long has started 25 consecutive matches and has appeared in 32 consecutive matches, dating back to the 2014 season. Williamson has played two of her three professional seasons with Portland and has started 41 matches for the club.


Goalkeeper Michelle Betos was named the 2015 Supporters’ Player of the Year by the Rose City Riveters and was presented with the award following Thorns FC’s final home match of the season. Betos has started and played in 13 games for Portland this season, logging 1,170 minutes, third most of any goalkeeper in the NWSL this season. Betos also scored a goal (June 19 vs. Kansas City) and was named NWSL Player of the Week for Week 10.


Thorns FC recognized goalkeeper Nadine Angerer and defender Rachel Van Hollebeke prior to their final home match on Aug. 30, as both announced their retirements from club and international soccer. Angerer earned 146 international caps and was recently named to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup All-Star team. The 2013 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, Angerer started 22 games in her first season with Thorns FC in 2014, ranking fourth in the NWSL in saves (74). In three seasons with Thorns FC, Van Hollebeke has appeared in 45 regular-season matches (39 starts), logging 3,514 minutes. In 2013, Van Hollebeke helped guide Portland to the NWSL Championship and earned NWSL Second XI honors. A veteran member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, Van Hollebeke earned 113 international caps, won two Olympic gold medals (2008 and 2012) and played in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.


Forward Alex Morgan became the second player in Thorns FC history to reach double-digit goals and assists for career on Aug. 30 against Washington. Morgan tallied her 10th career assist, moving her into a tie for first place on the all-time assist list with midfielder Allie Long. Morgan also registered her 15th career goal, which ranks her third all-time in scoring. In addition, Morgan moved into second place all-time in career points (40). Midfielder Mana Shim played in her 53rd career match for Thorns FC, moving up to second on the all-time appearances list after appearing as a substitute against Washington on Aug. 30. Additionally, Shim needs just one more goal to reach double-digits for her Thorns FC career.


Nine of Thorns FC’s 10 World Cup players, including Portland’s newest addition midfielder Lianne Sanderson, appeared in matches at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan helped the U.S. lift the trophy with a 5-2 win over Japan in the final, while Sanderson and forward Jodie Taylor won a bronze medal with the England Women’s National team. Heath became the fourth Thorns FC player to score at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup as she tallied the 5th goal in the win for the U.S. Portland is the only team in the NWSL with two players on its roster who have scored a goal in a World Cup final. In addition, Thorns FC had more players score in the World Cup then any NWSL team (4) as Taylor scored for England, Christine Sinclair tallied two goals for Canada and Morgan scored in the quarterfinal round against Colombia. Nadine Angerer logged 690 minutes, the most of any NWSL player at the World Cup. The German international played in all seven of her country’s games at the tournament, including two matches that went to extra time. Thorns FC players combined played 2,928 minutes in the tournament, the most of any NWSL team. In addition, a total of 12 current Thorns FC players have played in a World Cup as both Rachel Van Hollebeke and Ayo appeared in the 2011 version of the tournament.