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Match preview: Portland Thorns vs OL Reign

The Thorns will play their Cascadia rivals for the first time in this 2022 regular season.

Will the Thorns get the win?
Portland Thorns FC

It’s only May but the Portland Thorns and OL Reign have met 2 times already (leaving the Spring Invitational (pre?) preseason tournament matches aside). So far, Portland has managed to get 1 point out of those 2 games, having collected a draw and a loss in Challenge Cup.

Do you remember when was the last time the Thorns got a win against their Cascadia rivals during the regular season? Well, to do that we have to go back in time to 2018 (!). It was the last game of the season before the playoffs and Portland got a 3-1 victory. Lindsey Horan scored a brace that day and Tobin Heath contributed with a goal too. One week later, those two met again, this time in the semifinals, and got another win that sent the Thorns to the Championship game. It was a 2-1 result. Do you want to know who scored that time? Again, both Horan and Heath were the goalscorers that day.

2019 was a year to forget, Cascadia rivalry-wise. That year Portland played the Reign three times during the season and lost all those matches (0-1, 0-1, and 0-2). Then 2020 came and with it, the Coronavirus pandemic so we didn’t have a regular season. Nonetheless, both teams met three times more during that year, one for Challenge Cup and two times in the Fall Series. The Thorns drew in the Cup match (0-0) and won both games of the Series (4-1 and 2-1).

Last year the Reign kept dominating the Thorns with two wins during the regular season (2-1, 2-1) and a draw (1-1). What players managed to score in those games? Christine Sinclair, Angela Salem, and Morgan Weaver.

So, I don’t about you but I think it’s time for Portland to get a win against their rivals and this match could be the perfect scenario for it. Even though many pundits are pointing to the Reign as one of the favorites to win silverware this year, Portland has been doing interesting things so far, no matter how many changes have come their way.

Just in their inaugural season game against Kansas Citu, they broke the record of shots on target by a team in the 1st half of an NWSL regular season match, with 10. They finished that game with a total of 12 shots on target and scored 3 goals.

It is also noteworthy to say that the injury report is almost cleared, with Becky Sauerbrunn being available for the first time in the season. Only Crystal Dunn remains there for maternity leave and this week Marissa Everett is out too (right hip).

Of course, the Thorns will have to be careful because the Reign have proved they can score lots of goals in a single half and fast!

We also have to mention the fact that the team couldn’t play last week due to the overlapping of the Challenge Cup and the regular season schedule. Let’s remember that the Thorns had to face North Carolina last Saturday but since the Courage had to play the Cup final, the match was rescheduled to August 24th.

Positive and negative points aside, Portland is starting its new era under coach Rhian Wilkinson and a win against their Cascadia rivals after more than 3 years could be exactly what they need to keep gaining momentum and showing promising signs in 2022.