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MATCH PREVIEW: Portland Thorns FC vs Western New York Flash

Thorns within touching distance of first home playoff match in club history

Portland Thorns FC captain has scored two goals in as many games to put Portland on the brink of a first home playoff game.
Portland Thorns FC captain has scored two goals in as many games to put Portland on the brink of a first home playoff game.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Thorns FC enter Sunday’s matchup against the Western New York Flash needing just a single point from their final two regular season matches to clinch a home playoff game for the first time in club history. Portland has already clinched a playoff position after the Washington Spirit beat Seattle Reign FC 2-1 on Wednesday.

Thorns FC (10-5-3, 35pts) is playing its third home game in eight days Sunday, but have ridden a hot streak of form after losing three of their previous four games before last Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Boston Breakers. Portland has scored eight goals in their last two matches and have outscored visiting teams 20-6 at Providence Park. Nadia Nadim and Allie Long have scored three goals each in that span, while Christine Sinclair has scored a goal in consecutive games.

Portland comes into the match following a dominant 3-0 win over the Houston Dash, with Long scoring a goal in each half and Sinclair adding one late. The result would have secured a postseason berth regardless of Seattle’s result earlier in the night. Tobin Heath tallied assists on both Long goals to boost herself to the top of the NWSL assist table, two clear of the next closest player. Nadim will look to continue her strong scoring streak as she is just one goal off the leader in the race for the Golden Boot.

Western New York (8-5-5, 29pts) are trying to break a string of six-straight games without a win, including five draws going back to July 9. However, the team boasts the attacking threat of joint NWSL-leader in goals scored, former Thorn Jessica McDonald.

The Thorns are also still in contention to finish top of the table heading into the playoffs, but will need Washington to drop points in both its remaining games. A draw Sunday would benefit both clubs as it would also wrap up a playoff berth for Western New York. Portland currently sits six points clear of the Flash and Chicago Red stars with six points left to play for, while the Flash are holding off the slim hopes from the Reign, who could still make the playoff with maximum points from their remaining games and two Western New York loses.

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. (Pacific) and is available on FoxSports1.