Matchday Preview, Thorns vs. Sky Blue, 7.3.15
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

NWSL Matchday Preview | Portland Thorns FC vs. Sky Blue FC | July 3, 2015

MATCH INFORMATION

Date: Friday, July 3, 2015
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Forecast: Sunny, 95 degrees
Referee: Levi Rippy
Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Jason Perlewitz Fourth Official: J.J. Blodgett
Webstream: Available via www.portlandthornsfc.com

MATCH DAY PREVIEW

After an off week, Portland Thorns FC square off against Sky Blue FC twice in nine days, hosting a match at Providence Park on Friday, July 3, at 7 p.m. (Pacific) before traveling to face off against Sky Blue FC on July 11.

Friday marks the third time in team history Portland has faced the same opponent in consecutive matches doing so against the Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars during the 2014 season. Thorns FC are unbeaten when playing teams in consecutive matches (2-0-2).

Thorns FC play five of their next 10 matches at home and have played well a Providence Park, dating back to the end of the 2014 campaign. The team has posted a record of 6-1-3 in their last ten matches, including a mark of 2-1-2 during the 2015 campaign at Providence Park.

SCOUTING SKY BLUE FC

Sky Blue FC (1-5-4, 7pts) visits Portland following a 3-0 loss at home against the Chicago Red Stars on June 28 at Yurcak Field. The team’s lone win this season came in the opening game of the season on the road, a 1-0 win against reigning NWSL Champion FC Kansas City. Sky Blue FC has scored six goals this year, while surrendering 12 to opponents, but goalkeeper Brittany Cameron has been solid, playing more minutes (810) than any other goalkeeper in the NWSL, while tallying a league-best 49 saves. Midfielder Katy Freels leads the team this year with three goals, while forward Nadia Nadim has two goals and an assist. Joining the team this week after helping guide Australia to the quarterfinal round at the FIFA Women’s World Cup are defender Caitin Foord and forward Sam Kerr. Sky Blue obtained Kerr’s rights in the fall in a trade with the Western New York Flash. Kerr had a strong campaign with the Flash in 2014, tallying nine goals and four assists for the club.

SERIES HISTORY

Portland is 1-3-2 all-time against Sky Blue FC. In three meetings last season, Sky Blue FC claimed two one-goal victories against Thorns FC at Providence Park. In the first meeting of the year in 2014 on the road the two teams played to a 1-1 draw at Yurcak Field. The matches have proved to be defensive battles as multiple goals have been scored just twice during the all-time series. Sky Blue has a slight edge in goals scored 6-5, while midfielder Allie Long has two goals in the all-time series.

MICHELLE BETOS MAKES HISTORY

The Thorns FC goalkeeper did something that no other NWSL goalkeeper has done in league history in Portland’s 1-1 draw against FC Kansas City on June 19. Betos scored the game-tying goal, playing with just 10 players in the final moments of second-half stoppage time to draw Thorns FC level with FC Kansas City. Betos is the first goalkeeper in NWSL history to register a goal, tallying the latest equalizing goal in Thorns FC history. Additionally, the goal was the latest goal scored in a regular season match by a Portland player. The play was featured as the No. 2 player on ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 that same night and earned Betos NWSL Player of the Week honors.

THORNS FC SIGN POLKINGHOME

Thorns FC added a second Australia Women’s National Team player to its roster earlier this week, signing defender Clare Polkinghorne. The Matildas co-captain was named to her third consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup roster. Polkinghorne, who appeared for Australia in the 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cup, has 79 international caps. Professionally, Polkinghorne made 68 appearances for Australian W-League side the Brisbane Roar, helping lead club to league titles during the 2008-09 and 2010-11 seasons. In 2014, Polkinghorne spent part of the season loan with Japanese Nadeshiko club INAC Kobe Leonessa.

NWSL ANNOUNCES FOX SPORTS TV DEAL

The NWSL announced a deal with FOX Sports to broadcast six games on FOX Sports 1 and four others on FoxSportsGo.com. Thorns FC’s final two home regular-season matches against Aug. 9 against the Chicago Red Stars and Aug. 30 against Washington Spirit will both be broadcast on FOX Sports 1. Portland’s match on July 22 against Seattle Reign FC and Aug. 5 against the Boston Breakers will be available via FoxSportsGo.com and the FOX Sports Go app. Additionally, both semifinal matches of the 2015 NWSL Playoffs and the 2015 NWSL Championship match will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

STOUT DEFENSE

Portland’s defense ranks near the top of the league in goals allowed (10), tied for fewest goals conceded in the NWSL this season. Thorns FC have allowed the fewest shots (83) and shots on goal (43) in the league this season. Portland has surrendered an average of 9.2 shots per game to its opponents at home this season and an average of 4.6 shots on goal in five matches at Providence Park.

THORNS AT THE WORLD CUP

Eight of Thorns FC nine players appeared in matches at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The final, set to take place on Sunday, will pit Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and the U.S. against Japan, for a second consecutive Women’s World Cup Final. Heath and Morgan both started in the semifinal match against Germany, helping the U.S. to a 2-0 win as a Morgan drew the foul that set up Carli Lloyd’s PK in the match. Nadine Angerer started in goal, making three saves in the match. In the quarterfinal round, Angerer saved a penalty kick in a shootout against France to advance Germany in the tournament.

Forward Jodie Taylor earned her second consecutive start for England in the semifinals against Japan, falling victim to a heartbreaking, 2-1 defeat to Japan. Taylor was key in England’s quarterfinal win over Canada as she scored the opening goal of the match in her first-ever World Cup start. Forward Christine Sinclair also featured in that match, scoring the home nation’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss to the Lionesses. Steph Catley made her World Cup debut in 2015 and started every match for Australia, helping guide them to the quarterfinal round of the tournament.

MILESTONES

Several other players are approaching 50 career NWSL games play: midfielder/defender Kendall Johnson (46), midfielder Mana Shim (45) and midfielder Sinead Farrelly (42). Additionally, forward Christine Sinclair (45) could become the second player this year to reach 50 career NWSL games played for Thorns FC, joining midfielder Allie Long.

Defender Rachel Van Hollebeke surpassed 3,000 minutes for her career on June 19 against FC Kansas City, becoming the fourth player in club history to reach that mark for Thorns FC.

Long tallied her ninth career assist against FC Kansas City on June 19, moving into a tie for first place on the all-time career assist list with forward Alex Morgan. Long also remains tied for first place in career goals (16). With one more assist, Long would become the first player to reach double-digit goals and assists for the club. Shim would need two goals and three assists to also reach 10 goals and 10 career assists.

NOTABLE STATS

Portland is 19-2-5 all-time when scoring first in a match, including a record of 2-1-0 this season. Thorns FC are 13-0-5 all-time when leading at the half and 23-4-10 when leading or tied at half. Thorns FC are 16-8-10 all-time when outshooting their opponents in a match. Also, Portland is 10-5-5 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 17-1-4 all-time.

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