The Thorns are about to embark on their first mutli-game road trip. On Saturday at 1 p.m. PT, the Thorns will face off against long time rivals FC Kansas City at the Swope Soccer Village in Kansas. Parsons was explicit about this; “the Portland Thorns always see the best of Kansas,” he said on Wednesday in training. “That rivalry has been there since the first year, and I learnt that [last year].”
Both teams have had a difficult start to the 5th season of the NWSL; the Thorns have had players sit out on injury, losing key pieces and being forced to dig into the their bench. KC lost star forward and key team player Amy Rodriguez after only one game due to an ACL tear. Their star forward Shea Groom, although now back, suffered a broken rib in week 2. Although KC still has Sydney LeRoux and her amazing firepower, the team has been struggling with only a record of 1-2-1.
It looks like Parsons will continue to use his 4-3-3 line up, with no update on any of the injured played. Morris and Reynolds were both at training, but are still listed on the injury report. Shim is still in her boot, and there have been no updates on Heath and Brynjarsdottir and their injuries. Parsons admitted that his team was lacking energy, though he said they were prepared to “do what it takes” this weekend.
After a really good run against Seattle, it looks like rookie Megan Cox will earn her start again, securing the backline with Sonnett, Menges and Celeste Boureille. The midfield will continue to be Horan, Long and Henry in their rotating tactic, and then Nadim, Sinclair and Raso as the forwards. Parsons talked about how he wanted his team to embody all the positives of their second half against Seattle. He was looking for his team to bring “urgency, intensity, defending and attacking with that fire, and taking the game to them,” which were “going to be key” for a successful road trip.
FC Kansas City record belies the strength of their team. Kansas’s defensive integrity is unparalleled; neither Sky Blue nor Orlando could break down their defense. With Canadian Desiree Scott playing incredibly well in the defensive midfield, and veterans Sauerbrunn and Barnhart calling the backline with casual expertise, it will really force the Portland Thorns to bring the creativity to the final third.
So, can the Thorns eek out another win despite their weakened line up? In order to win against the Blues, the Thorns have to bring their a-game. Due to their slightly depleted midfield, forwards Raso and Nadim have been falling back a little, helping to win the ball in the midfield. If his team can listen to Parsons, and bring the highlights of the second half match against Seattle, then I have little doubt that this game will shape up to be an exciting match, showcasing the best in both sides.
Watch it on: go90.com (US); NWSL.com (international)
Where: Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City
When: Saturday, May 13th at 1:00 p.m. PT
Portland Thorns: 2-1-1, 2nd in the league, drew 2-2 vs. Seattle
FC Kansas City: 1-2-1, 9th in the league, drew 1-1 vs. Orlando Pride