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Match Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs FC Kansas City

Thorns visit Kansas City Wednesday night with a chance to move into third place

Tobin Heath has been in fine form and was key to the Thorns title push in 2013.
Tobin Heath has been in fine form and was key to the Thorns title push in 2013.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Meeting: 1-1 D

Overall Record against FCKC: 4-4-2

Following a vital 2-1 home win over the Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns FC heads into a third game in a seven-day stretch Wednesday night against FC Kansas City. The two sides are currently tied on 22 points for the fourth and final playoff spot. This match could prove crucial as the final match between the clubs and the first tiebreaker in the NWSL is head-to-head results.

Allie Long tallied a brace to earn Portland (6-6-4, 22pts) a come-from-behind victory over the Red Stars Sunday night. Alyssa Mautz gave Chicago the lead in the 29th minute, but Long was on hand to score when Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc collided with one of her own defenders and left the ball sitting in front of goal. Long secured three crucial points in the 69th minute, collecting a pass from Sinead Farrelly at the top of the box and slotting a shot into the lower left corner for her 21st career MLS goal, putting her in a three-way tie for second-most in NWSL history. Additionally, Long has tallied four goals and an assist in the Thorns’ last three matches.

FC Kansas City (6-6-4, 22pts) is coming off a 4-0 win over the Western New York Flash, with four different players registering goals. Kansas City and Portland have combined to score 31 goals in the eight previous regular-season matches and have faced each other in crucial situations before: twice in the NWSL playoffs with each team coming out on top once. In both situations, the winner went on to win the league title.

Portland and Kansas City tied 1-1 in their only other meeting this season, with Michelle Betos becoming the first NWSL goalkeeper to score a goal with a last minute equalizer. Betos threw herself into a diving header to rescue a point for Portland after the Thorns had gone down a player with McCall Zerboni receiving a red card midway through the second half.

Lianne Sanderson made her Thorns debut Sunday night, coming on for Jodie Taylor who is still nursing a knee injury and will most likely not be available for the full 90 minutes. Alex Morgan and Stephanie Catley are unlikely to be available as Morgan recovers from minor knee surgery and Catley recovers from a foot injury.

A win for either side will bump the club up to third place, a point ahead of third-place Washington Spirit, at least temporarily. Both Portland and Kansas City have four matches remaining, but the top three clubs, Washington, Chicago, and Seattle, all have a game in hand over the rest of the league.