The final game of the Portland Thorns regular season will kick off this afternoon at 3 p.m. Pacific. The Thorns will end their Shield run on the road when they visit Gotham FC at Red Bull Arena.
“Just getting to know this team has been a real highlight. That relationship and learning about one another, how quickly they trusted me.”— X - Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) September 30, 2022
Coach Rhian discusses the first season as head coach before tomorrow’s regular-season finale against Gotham FC. pic.twitter.com/HRtiJ2fXnz
With only three teams in the race for the NWSL Shield, this game is must win for the Thorns if they want to be back-to-back winners of that piece of silverware (OL Reign plays against Orlando at 6 p.m. Pacific and the KC Current play at 3:30 p.m. Pacific against Louisville).
Gotham is already eliminated from the postseason and has 17 losses in 21 games, and they’re at the bottom of the table with 12 points (and a goal differential -30). Despite being bottom, it can actually get worse. If they lose to the Thorns they will become the team with the most losses in a single season in the NWSL, according to Opta. Would Gotham be able to finish with a win at home after a nightmare of a season?
Portland, on the other hand, comes from a convincing win against Chicago Red Stars where Morgan Weaver and Taylor Porter scored. That was the third goal of the season for the latter in 406 minutes played. And with it, she has become the sixth Thorn with at least three goals in 2022. Can you guess who are the other five? Drop your guess in the comments and we will say the answer on the Stumptown Footy Twitter feed at halftime.
What can we expect from the Thorns? Well, it’s already stablished how different this season has been for these two teams, and after the 3-0 victory against Chicago last week we can’t expect anything but a positive result. After all, their destiny is in their own hands. Even a draw could suffice— but if that happens, they will have to depend on KC and the Reign to drop points (OL is at 37 points, KC is at 36 points).
The availability report shows that defender Gabby Provenzano is out (COVID protocol) and Sam Coffey is questionable with an ankle injury, so the guess is that coach Rhian Wilkinson won’t risk her. Sophia Smith is also cleared to play and she’s still a Golden Boot contender. Since San Diego played its last game yesterday and Alex Morgan didn’t play, the bar for top scorer is set at 15. Smith has to score a hat trick today if she wants to share the individual award with the veteran.
Tune in to be a witness to the end of the Thorns’ regular season. Fans in the United States can watch on Paramount+ while fans abroad can watch on Twitch. And remember, not only is the Shield at stake but also the prize money of $10,000 dollars for each player of the winning team, and a bye to the semifinals.