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Match Preview: Portland Thorns @ Angel City

The Thorns are back in the road after the international FIFA break.

Hina Sugita vs Angel City Rose City Riveters

The Thorns will be back in action tonight, July 1, when they face Angel City at Banc of California Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Pacific.

Now that the international FIFA break is over, it’s time to get back into action in the league. The team comes from two impressive wins against Houston and Orlando, having scored 10 goals in just two matches. According to Opta, Portland is the first team in NWSL history to score double-digit goals while allowing no goals over a two-game span. So that’s a good first for the team.

Portland has two wins and a loss in the historical record against Angel City, but both have met only once in the regular season: The Thorns beat them 3-0. This match will be interesting because many key players won’t be available for both clubs — some for international duty and some for medical reasons.

The hosts won’t be able to count on its primary weapon, Christen Press, after she tore her ACL in the match against Louisville. She won’t be the only absentee, however. Take a look at Angel City’s availability report:

Simone Charley (left Achilles), Sarah Gorden (right knee), Madison Hammond and Cari Rocarro (Covid protocol), Christen Press (SEI – knee), Jasmyne Spencer (left knee), and M.A. Vignola (right hip).
International duty: Vanessa Gilles and Allyson Swaby.

That doesn’t look good ... but Portland’s availability report isn’t that great either. Take a look:

Out: Bella Bixby and Abby Smith (Covid protocol) and Crystal Dunn (maternity leave). Questionable: Emily Menges (right foot) and Meaghan Nally (left hip).
International duty: Janine Beckie, Natalia Kuikka, Rocky Rodríguez, Becky Sauerbrunn, Christine Sinclair and Sophia Smith.

Because both Thorns keepers are out, will we see Shelby Hogan on goal tonight? Or will Nadine Angerer undust her gloves and get ready for action? We’ll see. Also, Portland signed three national team replacement (NTR) players this week. Maybe we’ll have the opportunity to see one of them in action, at least for some minutes since Jada Talley has already featured in the league this year.

Shelby Hogan stopping a PK.
Shelby Hogan stole the show at the ICC in 2021
Craig Mitchelldyer

You can learn more about the NTR players Portland has signed here.

It’s important to point out that the hosts are not strong at home. According to Opta, Angel City has been shut out in each of its last two home games and has been held scoreless in three of its five home games this season. The only NWSL team to be shut out more times through their first five home games of a season was the Reign in 2013 (four times).

Now that Sophia Smith is busy with the national team, Portland will have to find a way to score consistently in the next following games. It’s reassuring to know that the team has now nine different goal-scorers this season, with Taylor Porter becoming the ninth player to score for the Thorns in 2022. That’s two more than any other team this year.

With Menges still progressing with her injury, and now Meaghan Nally on the questionable list, let’s see what the defense is made of since the team won’t have many options there. If Wilkinson uses the three-back formation for this match, she’ll probably put Kelli Hubly, Madison Pogarch and Meghan Klingenberg, but we can always be surprised.

What are your thoughts for tonight? Drop your possible formation in the comments and tell us what you think the result will be (wild takes are allowed).

The game will be streamed on Paramount + for USA and Twitch for the rest of the world.