Portland travels to SoCal for first time in 2023 to face the San Diego Wave.
After bouncing back from their first regular season loss with an emphatic 4-0 win at home Sunday afternoon, the Portland Thorns are back on the road to face the San Diego Wave on Friday night. It is the first NWSL regular season match in Southern California for Mike Norris and the defending champs, and they'll look to keep the momentum from week eight going.
• Kickoff is scheduled for 7pm PST | Watch all the action on Paramount+
Through eight weeks of action, Portland and San Diego are amongst the top-three clubs in the standings. The Thorns sit in second and Wave in third, with both just one point shy of the spot directly above them. In a weekend that could shake up the standings, here are six stats to know ahead of the top-three battle:
Crystal Dunn has joined the top of the NWSL golden boot race, scoring 5 goals. Sophia Smith sits at the top of the assists charts with 5 dishes. They both face off against the Waves' Alex Morgan who is tied with Dunn for first in goals, and is tied for third in assists with two. Battle of top scorers and creators awaits Friday night.
Offensively, the Thorns have been a juggernaut for most of the 2023 season. They have a league-leading 22 goals scored through eight matches played. Their defense has been solid and together they have built a +12 goal differential. The next closest team? The San Diego Wave –– 7 goals scored behind Portland and with a +5 goal differential.
Yes, we already mentioned that the Thorns have a league-leading 22 goals scored. But the Portland attack is such a well-oiled machine that the 22 goals through eight games (that's 2-3 goals per game) are five more than any other team has scored at this stage of a season in NWSL history. That's the the highest production ever in eight matches in the league's 10-years of action, just dominant.
Alex Morgan, with the 13 on her back, will be the player Portland needs to be most wary about. Her team leading goals and assists as well as shots on target means she's going to keep Bella Bixby and the backline busy. Number 13 is fondly remembered in Portland, both for Morgan's time donning that number in the Rose City and for the year she helped in the lifting of the Thorns' first ever NWSL trophy in 2013.
Portland has scored in their last 13 regular season games, tallying 34 goals during that span. Having scored in every game thus far this year, they'll be looking to make it 35+ by the final whistle at Snapdragon Stadium to keep that streak alive.
With Kelli Hubly and Natalia Kuikka adding themselves to the scoresheet on Sunday, they've become the 10th and 11th different goalscorers, respectively, for the Thorns this season. This is is the most on any team in the league, confirming that team work is making the Thorns' dream work.