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Match Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs Seattle Reign FC

Thorns look for revenge against Seattle in second-straight meeting after 1-0 loss at Providence Park

Tobin Heath was a spark plug for the Thorns last Wednesday. Portland will need her fired up again to get a result on the road.
Tobin Heath was a spark plug for the Thorns last Wednesday. Portland will need her fired up again to get a result on the road.
Stacey Neve

Last Meeting: 1-0 L

Overall Record against Seattle: 5-3-0

Eight games remain in the 2015 NWSL season for Portland Thorns FC to climb up the table into one of the four playoff berths. Currently sitting in eighth place, Portland has a lot of work to do, starting with a second-straight match against second-place Seattle Reign FC Sunday afternoon.

Facing Seattle for the first time this season last Wednesday, the Thorns slipped to a 1-0 loss at home against the Reign. Forward Kim Little scored the decisive goal in the 57th minute, collecting a pass from midfielder Megan Rapinoe before slipping past two Thorns defenders and slotting a shot past goalkeeper Michelle Betos. Little has scored in three of the last four matches against the Thorns going back to the 2014 season. Christine Sinclair had the best chance of the match for Portland, glancing a strong header on goal that Seattle goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer was able to push over the bar. The result means that Portland has won just once in their last ten matches.

Wednesday’s match saw a number of World Cup internationals return for Portland as Australia’s Stephanie Catley and Clare Polkinghorne made their first starts of the season, while Tobin Heath and Christine Sinclair rejoined the starting lineup. Forward Alex Morgan will still be unavailable after undergoing knee surgery last Friday.

Portland was trounced 5-0 on their last visit to Seattle, back on July 27, 2014. Naho Kawasumi tallied two goals, while Little, Rapinoe and Sydney Leroux each scored once. Vero Boquete came closest to scoring for Portland, putting a header off the crossbar in the second half, but ultimately the Thorns were shutout, leading the way to a do-or-die match against Seattle in the final game of the season to clinch a playoff berth.

Sunday’s match will be a quick turnaround, though Portland will not be suffering from a cross-country flight ahead of an important match. However, it does mark the Thorns’ second match out of three to be played within a seven day stretch. The Thorns currently sit five points off the final playoff berth with 24 points still to play for. Four of the eight games are against opponents currently occupying playoff positions, giving Portland an opportunity to catch up to the top four teams.