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Storylines: Portland Thorns at Houston Dash

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The Portland Thorns (4-1-4) head down to Texas to face off against the Houston Dash (3-2-4) on the back of two draws in a row against North Carolina and Utah. The Thorns go into this game with an impressive defensive record but only one goal scored in their last two games: this is an important trip for the team to get some offense going.

Projected XI

Thorns are starting to filter back in from France after Brazil, Australia and Canada all got dropped from the World Cup in the first knockout round. Andressinha is the only one confirmed to be back in training at the moment, and as the player with the fewest minutes logged of any Thorn at the World Cup, she seems likely to hit the field the quickest. Her coming back into the team could significantly help a team that looked a little short of creativity in midfield.

Emily Menges has been cleared from the injury report after missing two games and could see a starting place, though the team might choose to play it slow with bigger games on the horizon.

Gameplan

The Dash were a dark horse pick to perform well during the World Cup season, but they haven’t won a game in their last four, even allowing the Orlando Pride to score two goals on them in a 2-2 draw. Meanwhile the Thorns have been emphasizing defending in the World Cup season, conceding only one goal in their last four.

After the 0-0 draw against the Royals last weekend, Parsons was disappointed with the attacking but optimistic overall. “I told the team”, he said in training. “I felt a disappointment in the missed opportunities because of the standard this group have set”.

On paper, defending the Dash should be a nightmare, with Sofia Huerta and Kelia Ohai on opposite wings stretching play. They’ve scored in all of their games but one so far this season, and Huerta is a defensive priority, but Christine Nairn scored their most recent goal on a shot from distance. Nairn has done this against Portland before for the Orlando Pride, and it’s on the defensive midfielders, Celeste Boureille and Dagny Brynjarsdottir, to track her when she’s floating around at the top of the box.

Houston’s defense this year have shown flashes of individual talent but can look completely disorganized with a little bit of motion. It’s the perfect game for players like Midge Purce and Simone Charley, who thrive in space picking apart poor organization.

With Andressinha expected to return to the team, the Thorns are getting back significant creativity in midfield, and she’s returning to the field where she was once one of the top midfielders in the NWSL back in 2017. Coming off a World Cup where she didn’t get much time on the field, she’ll be eager to show her qualities.