Thorns FC

PREVIEW | Thorns host San Diego Wave FC in a top-of-the table clash Saturday

MatchPreviewThorns_9.30.23
Portland welcome San Diego Wave FC to Providence Park. Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 7:30pm PT.

Thorns FC is nearing the end of the regular season, and on Saturday host San Diego Wave FC at Providence Park. With three matches to go, Saturday's showdown will have a big impact in both the NWSL Shield race and the first playoffs berth.

Portland (1st, 9-5-5, 32pts) currently have their eyes set on two objectives โ€“ securing a playoff berth, and securing the NWSL Shield. In order to put themselves in the best possible position to acquire both, they have to get a result against the visiting San Diego Wave FC (2nd, 9-7-3, 30pts) who are right on their tails.

Following a break for international play, both Portland and San Diego return to action looking to close the season on a high and potentially with silverware. The Thorns registered an emphatic 2-0 win over OL Reign just before the break, earning a 2-2-1 record in their last five league games. The visitors come into Providence Park with a 3-1-1 record, although having suffered a 2-1 loss to Kansas City prior to the time off.

Playoffs and/or Shield

With only nine points left up for grabs, first place Portland can be the first club to secure their spot in the postseason this weekend should they beat San Diego. In doing so, the Thorns would also inch closer to the NWSL Shield. While a win against the Wave gets them in the postseason party, anything else and it may be out of their hands this weekend, but still possible. Here are all the qualification scenarios.

It's the penultimate home match of the 2023 regular season and here are some stats to know:

10x2

They've taken 2023 by storm, and have now become the first pair of Thorns FC teammates to each score 10 goals across all competitions in a single season in the club's NWSL history. Morgan Weaver and Sophia Smith have 10 and 11 goals each, respectively, in NWSL and Challenge Cup play this year.

+14

Providence Park has always been a fortress for the Thorns. This year, it has been especially hard for visiting teams, with Portland scoring multiple goals in seven out of nine home matches this season. The Thorns have outscored their opponents by a margin of 22-8 across those matches, with a +14 goal differential when playing in the Rose City.

2+

Although there has only been eight meetings across all competitions all-time between Portland and San Diego, the series has quickly turned into an intense, hard-fought, and often high-scoring affair. Half of the matchups have seen scorelines with three goals or more scored, and in doing so, has also allowed for multiple Thorns to register multiple goals against the Wave. Sophia Smith has scored three times in three appearances against San Diego, rookie Reyna Reyes two goals in two appearances, and both Hina Sugita and Hannah Betfort have registered braces on the Wave, on April 17, 2022 and on July 21st of this year, respectively.

40x4

Whether it's the Bella Bixby stoppage-time equalizer against Angel City FC, or Hannah Betfort's cheeky control, finish, and celly, the Portland faithful have had no shortage of goals to celebrate this year. In fact, for the fourth time in franchise history, Portland has reached the 40 goals scored in a season mark. No other team in the NWSL has more than three 40-goal seasons.