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MATCH PREVIEW: Portland Thorns FC vs Houston Dash

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Thorns can lock in a playoff berth with win over Houston Wednesday night

Midfielder Lindsey Horan is gunning for her first NWSL playoffs with Portland Thorns FC and could clinch a spot with a win Wednesday night against the Houston Dash
Midfielder Lindsey Horan is gunning for her first NWSL playoffs with Portland Thorns FC and could clinch a spot with a win Wednesday night against the Houston Dash
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Thorns FC have a chance to secure a 2016 NWSL playoff berth with a win against the Houston Dash Wednesday night at Providence Park. The Thorns could also potentially lock in a home playoff game for the first time in club history should they beat Houston and both Chicago Red Stars and Western New York Flash lose.

Thorns FC comes into the match after a thrilling 5-1 win over the Boston Breakers, with forward Nadia Nadim tallying a hat-trick, along with goals from captain Christine Sinclair and midfielder Allie Long. Portland has now scored 10 goals in its last two games at Providence Park against the Breakers. Both Long and Sinclair were playing their first home match since returning from the Summer Olympic Games in Rio.

Houston is currently on a 3 game unbeaten streak and knocked the Orlando Pride out of the playoff race with a 4-2 win at home last Saturday. However, the Dash are virtually eliminated from playoff contention themselves, being nine points off fourth place Western New York with three games left. Anything but a win Wednesday night against the Thorns and the Dash will be eliminated.

Wednesday’s match marks the third meeting between the two sides at Providence Park, with the records even at 1-1 and no goal differential. However, Portland does lead the overall head-to-head battle with a record of 3-2-1, although the Dash hold a +1 goal differential overall.

With her hat-trick on Sunday, Nadim moved into a two-way tie for second most goals in the NWSL, just one off the league leader, Houston’s Kealia Ohai. Ohai has scored in five-straight games for Houston to boost herself to the forefront of the Golden Boot race. Nadim’s hat-trick was also the 10th in league history and second for herself and Thorns FC. Midfielder Tobin Heath is tied for the most assists in the NWSL.

The Thorns are currently eight points clear of fifth place Seattle Reign FC with just three games and nine points left to play for. Should Seattle do anything but win their game against the Washington Spirit, Portland is guaranteed a playoff position, regardless of the result against Houston.

Wednesday’s match is set to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. (Pacific) with a live-stream available on YouTube and thornsfc.com.