Portland looking to secure first points in 2023 Challenge Cup at Providence Park.
Portland Thorns FC take a break from the regular season for a showdown with Angel City FC in UKG NWSL Challenge Cup play Wednesday night at Providence Park; kickoff is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific).
The 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup began six weeks ago, but the Thorns are playing just their second match of the competition. With a loss to San Diego Wave in Game 1 of the Challenge Cup in mid-April, Portland (0-1-0, 0pts) is fourth in the West Division. Angel City (0-1-1, 1pt) sits in third in the West Division after two matches played.
You don't have to go too far back in the calendar to find a memorable matchup between the Thorns and Angel City. The two sides played to a thrilling 3-3 draw in regular-season play on April 29, which saw several lead changes and a historical goal by goalkeeper Bella Bixby.
Here are five numbers to know heading into the Thorns' second match-up of the Challenge Cup.
Forward Morgan Weaver has 18 career appearances in the NWSL Challenge Cup, and the 25-year-old has more appearances than any other Thorns player in the competition.
The Thorns lead the NWSL with 23 goals through nine regular-season matches. With defender Reyna Reyes' goal on Friday in league play, the Thorns have 12 different goal-scorers thus far in 2023.
Defender Kelli Hubly was the Thorns' Iron Woman in 2022, playing every minute of the regular season. With a full 90-minute shift on April 19 in the Thorns' first match of the 2023 Challenge Cup, Hubly has been on the pitch for a total of 1,506 career minutes in Challenge Cup play - the most by any Thorns player.
Both Portland and Angel City are amongst the top teams in the NWSL in ball possession this season, playing at 52 percent retention. Keeping the ball and allowing game-changers to execute will be key. Who will win the possession battle on Wednesday?
The goal differential for the Thorns and Angel City after that 3-3 draw April 29 is +3 in favor of Portland and -3 for the visitors. In the matches each team has played since that draw - Thorns with four games, Angel City with five - the Thorns have found the back of the net nine times, while Angel City only four. Portland holds a +5 goal differential over that period.