In the fifth of six consecutive road games, the Thorns travel to D.C. to take on the Washington Spirit. After an abysmal 2018 campaign yielded a 2-17-5 overall record, Washington made significant moves in the offseason. This match marks the first time Portland will take on new Spirit Head Coach Richie Burke’s side, and it’s unclear exactly how these two sides will match up.
Washington have opened the season on a strong foot, coming off a 3-2 win against Sky Blue FC, showing well on the attack. Cheyna Matthews looked particularly threatening, making fantastic runs off the ball and scoring a brace against New Jersey. Matthews — along with players like rookie Jordan DiBiasi, who scored her first NWSL goal last weekend — will look to build on this performance against a Portland team that’s allowed seven goals in four games.
On the flip side, the Spirit’s defense has struggled to look cohesive, often leaving opposing players unmarked in dangerous positions. While Washington has only conceded three goals on the season, Sky Blue was able to find success in exploiting this weakness last Saturday. If Portland’s attacking players — who have looked excellent so far this year — can find spaces in the Spirit’s backline and capitalize on their chances, they should be able to find goals in this match.
“The Spirit picked up a slew of new draft picks and internationals in the offseason and look significantly better than last season — they’ve already matched last season’s win total — but are still learning how to play together, especially in defense. Even at their lowest, the Spirit always get up for games against the Thorns: The teams drew once, and the Thorns only beat the Spirit by a solitary goal in both of their victories, including one match in the rain settled by Ellie Carpenter’s first goal in the league, which made her the youngest-ever scorer in the NWSL.
Meanwhile, the Thorns have their last game with internationals present until they start to filter out to the World Cup. They looked excellent going forward against Orlando: Can they sustain it?”
How to Watch
How to watch: Yahoo Sports, NWSLSoccer.com for international viewers
Where: Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex, Boyds, Maryland
When: Saturday, May 18, 4:00pm PT
Portland Thorns: 2-0-2, 5th place in the NWSL, won 3-1 at Orlando Pride
Washington Spirit: 2-1-1, 6th place in the NWSL, won 3-2 at Sky Blue FC