Thorns Match Preview

MATCH PREVIEW | Top of the league, the Thorns head to D.C.

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The games keep coming thick and fast for the Portland Thorns FC. Following fast on Friday's dramatic 3-3 draw against rivals North Carolina Courage in Portland, they now take on the Washington Spirit at Segra Field on Wednesday (4:30 p.m. PT, Paramount+).

Both teams played to a 1-1 draw at Providence Park on May 18 with both goals separated by just six minutes. This time, though, the Thorns will be searching for all three points and secure their status at the top of the league.

Here are three things to watch for:

1. Sophia Smith cannot stop scoring

Not many players in the entire NWSL can match the magic Sophia Smith has with the ball at her feet. Focus on her for five minutes and it makes an entire game slow down.

It's almost easier to predict when Smith will score a goal rather than when she won’t. She's tied with the San Diego Wave’s Alex Morgan for most goals in the league—11––and Smith has scored in each of the last five league games she has played in. In Friday's game against the North Carolina Courage, she scored two magnificent go-ahead solo goals. (Go ahead, watch them again. We won't blame you.) Her precision is clinical, too. 28 of Smith’s 42 goals (67%) have been on target.

The Stanford product scored against the Spirit in mid-May and looks to keep up her red-hot streak this Wednesday. And if you haven't yet, it's time to cast your vote for Sophia for NWSL's Player of the Week.

2. Will Portland’s offense continue to click at league-leading levels

The answer to this question is, most likely, yes.

Smith has scored nearly one-third of Portland’s league-leading 34 league goals this season, but the club’s offensive depth goes well beyond its young forward. Christine Sinclair and Hina Sugita both have four goals, while Morgan Weaver––who scored in last weekend’s game against the Courage––has three.

Twelve different players have scored at least a goal for the Thorns this season, a team that when clicking on all cylinders is a joy to behold. To put things in perspective, the team has scored eight more goals than the next highest-scoring team (Houston Dash with 26 goals) and has four more assists than the second place Chicago Red Stars (21 to 17).

3. Can the Thorns capitalize on a midweek opportunity at three points?

We’re at the point of the season where every point matters.

Atop the NWSL table but still level on points with the Wave (25 apiece), Portland cannot afford to allow a midweek opportunity at three points slip away. With four points separating the Thorns from sixth-place OL Reign, even a little slip can become complicated as the top of the table drastically shuffles each week.

Portland will take a 14-day break from league play to compete in the 2022 Women’s International Champions Cup (Aug. 17-20 at Providence Park, TICKETS), So Wednesday’s game is all the more crucial.