After two games on the road where the Portland Thorns collected a draw against San Diego and a convincing win against Houston (because revenge is a dish best served cold/humid?), the team goes back home to face the Orlando Pride.
The hosts have one game in hand compared to the other top-table teams and they will want to take advantage of it.
Winger Janine Beckie recognized the importance to get a win when she shared this before the match: “Three points right now is like gold because it’s so close.”
Of course a team will always want to win, but for the Thorns this match holds importance in terms of starting to make Providence Park a fortress like it used to be. The Rose City team only has 2 wins at home out of 5 games (the other results are two draws and a loss), and it’s important that Portland start building on their home advantage.
“This weekend is more important from a confidence perspective”, added Beckie in the pregame press conference, and rightly so. With the international break is coming, it will be an opportunity for players that maybe haven’t seen much time in the field so far to prove what they can do.
“Now it’s an opportunity to give our other strikers who maybe don’t have as many minutes opportunities in front of the net,” said coach Rhian Wilkinson about this matter. “I look forward to seeing others rise to the occasion.” So I guess it’s a good thing that Marissa Everett is cleared from the injury list, where she was placed until last week, and will be available for selection.
But while Marissa has been cleared out, some others entered that dreadful list. For this match, Morgan Weaver won’t be available due to a right thigh injury. Christine Sinclair, who picked an injury minutes before the game against Houston, won’t be available as well (right lower leg), and Emily Menges is still out.
About Portland’s captain and Menges, the coach said that both are “progressing very quickly”. In any case, we won’t see them for this match, and then Sinclair has national team duty with Canada, who will play a friendly against South Korea.
If we talk a little about the opponent, the history between these two teams shows that Portland has won 9 games and lost only twice against them. That’s the second-best record for the Thorns against an NWSL team. Nonetheless, even though numbers and stats are good and nice, the hosts won’t want to live in the past.
“I don’t think their results or their position in the table is necessarily a good indication of the quality of that group,” said coach Wilkinson when asked about Orlando. “They reduced teams to few opportunities on the net and they scored on a number of very strong opponents. They’re a team we gotta be ready for and we gotta produce a good game against if we want a result,”
We can’t leave aside the off-field problems the Pride is involved in and that one of their main players is out. We’re talking about Sydney Leroux who has been in and out of the injury list. Right now, Orlando is in the 11th position on the table and has only won 2 games, with their other results being two draws and four losses.
It will be good if Portland can win this match, but if they can score more than one goal it will be even better. According to Opta, if they do so it will be the first time they would score multiple goals in five straight games in a single regular season.
Let’s hope for the best. The match will be streamed on Paramount+ and Twitch at 12pm Pacific.