Thorns FC

Thorns FC resume NWSL play Sunday against visiting league-leaders North Carolina Courage

ThornsMatchPreview8.20.23
It's a top-two clash at Providence Park this weekend, with Portland and North Carolina vying for the top spot in the league. Kickoff is at 7:30pm PT.

Thorns FC resume regular-season action at home this Sunday in welcoming none other than the North Carolina Courage – a club that's been going toe-to-toe with Portland in the standings all season, and sit currently in first place. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm PT.

• 🏟️ 🎟️ | Secure your seat for the top-two clash!

Following the end of the Challenge Cup group stage, Portland now shifts focus entirely on the regular season and securing the best possible seed for the 2023 NWSL Playoffs. With just under two months remaining in the campaign, the Thorns (2nd Place, 7-4-4, 25pts) look to reclaim the top spot in the standings this Sunday as they face the Courage (1st Place, 8-5-2, 26pts) in a battle of the top-two teams in the league.

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The two clubs have met once before this season, in a thrilling 3-3 draw in Raleigh, N.C. back on May 6. Fueled by a Crystal Dunn brace and a late Olivia Moultrie banger from outside-the-box, Portland completed an impressive three comebacks to earn a hard-fought point on the road. If the first match was any indication, expect Sunday's matchup to have all the ingredients for a thriller.

Here are some facts to know as the Thorns head into the final stretch of the NWSL season and welcome the Courage:

21

Portland has seven remaining matches in their 2023 NWSL schedule, with a potential of 21 points up for grabs in order to secure top-seed. Sunday's test against the Courage is the first of four remaining home matches, with three on the road, including the season finale on October 15. Additionally, five of their seven upcoming opponents are currently above the playoff line, meaning every point will be contested over the next 13 weeks in order to secure the best possible finish.

No. 1 & No. 1

There's a reason both clubs are vying for the top seed come playoffs. The North Carolina Courage are the number one defense so far this season, conceding a league-low 13 goals through 15 matches. Their top-defense will be put to the test as they face the number one offense in the NWSL at Providence Park. With 34 goals scored, the Thorns lead the rest of the pack by an impressive 11 goals or more.

58

Midfielder Olivia Moultrie has seen a surge in playing time after facing the Courage for the first time this season back in May. In the first five matches of the season, the 17-year-old was only seeing about 16 minutes of action per game. In the 10 matches since facing NC, Moultrie is now averaging 58 minutes per game, and has six starts with two full-90 stints under her belt.

150

Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg could reach a milestone in the NWSL on Sunday. With her next appearance, Klingenberg will have participated in her 150th regular-season NWSL match over her 10 year career. With Portland, the defender has played in 130 regular-season matches.