Record against Sky Blue: 1-3-2
Last Meeting: 2-1 L
Walking into Providence Park Friday night, many might still hear the echoes of the roar that answered goalkeeper Michelle Betos’ equalizer at the death in a 1-1 draw with FC Kansas City on June 19. While that goal alone will achieve legendary status among the Thorns faithful, and rightfully so, it could mark a major turning point in Portland’s season. Still in the midst of a seven-match winless run, Portland welcomes Sky Blue FC for the first time this season with a mind to get back to winning ways ahead of the culmination of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the return of all the internationals.
Despite a going seven games without a win, the squad has been bolstered by a string of strong performances by Betos. Following a slip against the Washington Spirit on May 30, Betos has been directly responsible for saving two draws and two points for the Thorns. On June 6, she saved a penalty kick to preserve a 0-0 draw on the road against the Houston Dash. On June 19, well if you haven’t seen it yet, check here.
Portland had a tough time against Sky Blue last season, losing twice and earning a draw in their three meetings. Having only beaten Sky Blue once in six matches, Portland will have a chance ahead of their back-to-back games against the New Jersey club. Following Friday’s game in the Rose City, the Thorns head to Yurcak Field to face Sky Blue again next Friday, July 11. McCall Zerboni will not be available following her red card against Kansas City.
Sky Blue (1-5-4, 7pts) is coming off a 3-0 loss at home to the Chicago Red Stars last Sunday and sit at the bottom of the table, three points behind the Thorns. A difficult season has seen Sky Blue unable to earn all three points since their season opener against FC Kansas City back on April 12. The New Jersey side will be boosted by the return this week of Australian internationals Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr. The team has only tallied six goals in 10 games.
Portland (2-3-4, 10pts) has made some recent adjustments to the squad since the Kansas City game, waiving defender Courtney Niemiec and defensive midfielder Sarah Robbins, while adding Australian defender Clare Polkinghorne. Polkinghorne is coming off her third World Cup roster with the Matildas and won two Australian W-League titles with the Brisbane Roar. She’ll also be reunited with former Roar teammate, Nadine Angerer. However, the team will still be without Canadian internationals Kaylyn Kyle, Rhian Wilkinson and Christine Sinclair, as well as Australia’s Stephanie Catley and England’s Jodie Taylor. Following Friday’s match, all eyes will turn to support the USA with Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath in the World Cup final Sunday afternoon.