NWSL Matchday Preview | FC Kansas City vs. Portland Thorns FC | Apr. 23, 2016


Date: Saturday, April 23, 2016
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Swope Soccer Village (Kansas City, Mo.)
Forecast: Sunny, 82 degrees
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referees: Adrienne McDonald, Brooke Mayo Fourth Official: Ryan Cook
Webstream: www.thornsfc.com


Thorns FC embark on a four-game road swing, the longest stretch of consecutive road matches in club history, beginning with a match against FC Kansas City on Saturday, April 23, at Swope Soccer Village; kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. (Pacific).

Saturday’s match is first of two regular-season meetings between Portland and Kansas City, and the team’s only regular-season trip to Kansas City. It also marks the 10th meeting all-time in the regular season between the two clubs.

Against FC Kansas City, midfielder Allie Long has produced four goals and three assists in nine games and is the only current player on Portland’s roster to have appeared in every regular-season match against FC Kansas City.


Opening their fourth season in the NWSL, Thorns FC recorded a 2-1 win in their season and home opener against the Orlando Pride on April 17 at Providence Park. Despite surrendering an early goal in the 12th minute of the match, Portland fought back to level the score in the 25th minute through midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir. Midfielder Lindsey Horan tallied the game-winning goal in the 82nd minute, receiving a short pass inside the box from midfielder Tobin Heath and calmly slotting her shot into the bottom, left corner of the goal. Heath tallied two assists in the match and goalkeeper Michelle Betos made five saves.


The reigning NWSL champions suffered a 1-0 defeat against Western New York in their 2016 home and season opener at Children’s Mercy Park on April 17. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s side is led by three-time NWSL Defender of the Year Becky Sauerbrunn and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart who led the league in wins (8) and shutouts (8) and ranked second in goals-against average (0.94) during the 2015 campaign. Offensively, FC Kansas City’s top returning goal scorers from a season ago include Shea Groom (4), Erika Tymrak (3) and Heather O’Reilly (3). Forward Amy Rodriguez led FC Kansas City six goals and four assists, but is unavailable as she is expecting her second child. A new addition to the roster this season, but not new to Kansas City, is midfielder and Canadian international Desiree Scott who did not play for FC Kansas City during the 2014 or 2015 season, but started and played in 20 games in 2013.


Saturday’s match marks the 10th all-time meeting during regular season between Thorns FC and FC Kansas City. Portland has posted a record of 3-4-2 and is in search of its first road win against Kansas City (0-3-1). In nine previous meetings, the two teams have combined to score 34 goals. Thorns FC have scored 18 goals in the series, tallying six in the final 15 minutes, and 10 goals in the last 30 minutes in those nine games.


Portland’s opening match of the 2016 season saw many firsts for several players. Four players made their NWSL debuts: Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnett and Mallory Weber. Eight players made their Thorns FC debut along with Brynjarsdottir, Horan, Sonnett and Weber: Meghan Klingenberg, Nadia Nadim, Katherine Reynolds and Hayley Raso.


Defender Emily Sonnett became the fourth rookie in team history to start in the team’s season opener, joining Kat Williamson (2013), Emily Menges (2014) and Courtney Niemiec (2014). In addition, midfielders Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Lindsey Horan are just the second and third players in club history to score in their first match for the club. Forward Christine Sinclair is the only other player to accomplish this feat as she registered the first goal for the club in their first match during the inaugural season in 2013.


Midfielder Tobin Heath recorded the sixth multi-assist game in Thorns FC history and the second of her career in Portland’s match against Orlando on April 17. Heath is the only player with more than one multi-assist game in her career as she registered her first on July 28, 2013, against the Chicago Red Stars.


Portland is 7-0-3 all-time during the month of April, dating back to the 2013 season. In 10 games, Thorns FC have outscored their opponents 19-8 during the month of April. Defensively, Portland has registered three shutouts and has never surrendered multiple goals in a match in April.


The combined average age of Thorns FC’s roster is 24.9 years old and features 11 players 25 or younger. Portland boasts a young, talented roster with several key players under the age of 25. The youngest players on the roster: Lindsey Horan and Hayley Raso - both are 21 years old and have been playing professional soccer since the age of 18. Additionally, four of those players under the age of 25 - Dagny Brynjarsdottir (24), Emily Sonnett (22), Raso and Horan - have all been capped by their respective national teams.


Portland signed midfielder Celeste Boureille and acquired forward Hayley Raso off waivers on April 15. Boureille, who has been in preseason camp with Thorns FC, played collegiately at the University of California-Berkley from 2012-15, and during her senior season earned second-team All-PAC 12 honors. Raso was part of the Australia Women’s National Team roster for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and joined the Washington Spirit after the tournament. In 2015, Raso appeared in nine games for the Spirit, making two starts.