Match Preview: Portland Thorns FC @ Western NY Flash

USA TODAY Sports

A win keeps Portland's hopes of hosting a playoff game alive.

MATCH INFORMATION
Date: Saturday, August 10, 2013
Kickoff: 4:35 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Sahlen's Stadium (Rochester, N.Y.)
Forecast: 77 degrees, partly cloudy
Referee: Margaret Domka
Assistant Referees: Amanda Ross, Lauren Dearman
Fourth Official: Christopher Trottier
Webstream available via www.portlandthornsfc.com.

This marks Portland Thorns FC's second, and final regular-season, match against the Western New York Flash (aka the Rochester Wambachs*). Portland managed a 1-1 draw in their first meeting, a dramatic affair at Jeld-Wen than proved one of the best NWSL matches of the year. That game took place July 14, and Western New York is unbeaten since then. Portland, meantime, comes into this match after Wednesday's 2-1 away loss to Boston, a game in which they lost Alex Morgan to injury. Morgan suffered a sprained MCL and will not be playing in the game against the Flash.

This match is crucial for Portland's playoff positioning. Despite recent disappointing results, this team still could host a playoff match. If the Thorns win this game and their final regular-season match (against Seattle), and Sky Blue drops points, the Thorns will host a semi-final.

What to Worry About

Abby Wambach, to start with. With 10 goals and eight assists, she's one of the top goal-scorers in the league, plus, you know, she's the top international goal scorer of all time. But it's the assists part of that stat that could be equally worrisome. Wambach and fellow USWNTer Carli Lloyd work well together, and Lloyd --along with Sam Kerr-- has benefitted from defenses' focus on Wambach. Lloyd has eight goals, while Kerr has five goals and five assists.

What to Not Worry About

Um, Abby Wambach? Yes, she scored the Flash's one goal in the teams' last meeting, and there's all that stuff I mentioned above, but overall Portland rookie defender Kat Williamson shut down the international star in their battle in July. Williamson was veteran-like in her marking of Wambach, not letting Wambach intimidate her, or manhandle her, as she is wont to do. If Williamson can replicate this performance, and the rest of the defense can keep track of Lloyd and Kerr (a tall order, given recent lapses), then the Thorns will have a chance.

Stat You Can Do Whatever You Want With

Portland has only given up seven goals on the road this season.

*Just kidding.

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