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MATCH PREVIEW: Portland Thorns FC vs Boston Breakers

With just four matches remaining, Thorns look to solidify playoff berth

Defender Meghan Klingenberg returns to Providence Park for her first home match since the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio
Defender Meghan Klingenberg returns to Providence Park for her first home match since the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday night, Portland Thorns FC (8-3-5, 29pts) will begin a run of three-straight home matches, starting with a visit from the Boston Breakers (3-12-1, 10pts). Portland is looking to right the ship ahead of a strong finish to the NWSL regular season after suffering three losses in their last four matches.

The Thorns are coming off a difficult 3-1 road loss to Seattle Reign FC. A brace from Manon Melis gave the Reign a 2-0 lead late into the match before Allie Long scored her first of the season to give Portland hopes of snatching a draw. Unfortunately Long’s goal would just be consolation as deep into second half stoppage time, the Reign countered and scored a third goal through Megan Rapinoe. Tobin Heath tallied her sixth assist of the season on Long’s goal, which is tied for the league lead.

Boston currently sits bottom of the NWSL table and suffered a 3-1 loss to the Houston Dash in midweek. However, the Breakers have only lost once in their last three games, beating FC Kansas City and the Orlando Pride in the process. However, Boston has already been eliminated from playoff contention and have never won two consecutive road games. Boston is also on course to break their own NWSL record of lowest points total in a season, currently at 15pts.

Sunday’s contest marks the second and final time Boston will face Portland this season, with Thorns FC taking all three points in a 1-0 win back on May 1st. The last time the Thorns hosted the Breakers at Providence Park, Portland ran out 5-2 winners, with four different goalscorers for Thorns FC.

French midfielder Amandine Henry was subbed out in the first half against Seattle with a back problem, but is listed as probable on the NWSL injury report. More concerning is Dagny Brynjarsdottir who is listed as doubtful with a right knee injury. Portland is boosted by the activation of Kendall Johnson, who has not featured for the club thus far this season. Boston will be without three players, including former Thorn Sinead Farrelly.

This streak of home games will be pivotal for Thorns FC to lock in a home playoff game for the first time in club history. Portland currently sits in second place, a single point ahead of the Chicago Red Stars and six points clear of fifth place Seattle. A win on Sunday followed by a win next Wednesday would all but secure a playoff berth, depending on results from other games. However, that elusive home playoff game will likely go down to the final game of the season, with three of the top four teams within two points of each other. Portland closes out the 2016 NWSL regular season on the road in New Jersey against Sky Blue.