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Match preview: Portland Thorns vs OL Reign

The rivalry game is here.

Morgan Weaver vs Jess Fishlock
Morgan Weaver vs Jess Fishlock
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The last rivalry game of the season is here. The Portland Thorns will take on OL Reign at Lumen Field today at 3 P.M. Pacific.

It will be the second straight game on the road for Portland after getting a draw against Angel City, while the hosts come from a 2-0 win against N.C. Courage at home.

This is the availability report for both teams:

Availability report for Portland Thorns vs OL Reign NWSL

This is going to be a good game to see what Portland’s young squad can do against OL Reign, a team that also has a lot of absences but not as many as Portland. Those players will count, with Jessica Fishlock and Kim Little in the midfield and potentially, the debut of Tobin Heath. And although Laura Harvey cast doubt on Heath making her Reign at the pre-match press conference, you might never know with her.

With Menges still out for Portland, we’ll probably see a lineup that reminds us of the one we saw against Angel City even though the Reign appear to be more dangerous than Freya Coombe’s squad— on paper at least. We say this because in actuality Portland’s neighbors have had a hard time scoring this season. This has been a problem for them, so much so that the 2-0 win against North Carolina last week marked the second time in the season that the Reign could score multiple goals, and the first time they did so while keeping a clean sheet.

Regarding defense, OL Reign are tied with Portland (and San Diego) for the most clean sheets in the 2022 season, with four. But for Portland, as we said, Menges is still out. Coach Rhian Wilkinson gave bad news about her at the pre-match press conference, when she said that the veteran won’t be available for the foreseeable future as she has had ups and down with her foot injury.

With Bella Bixby and Abby Smith both available again after being unavailable due to COVID protocol for the last week's game, they have been cleared to play today. But it’s unknown if the coach will decide to use Bixby or keep giving Shelby Hogan more minutes after the very good performance she put on against Angel City.

History shows that the odds are against the Thorns since the only season they could win both of their away games against the Reign was in 2013, and only one more after that year, registering 3 wins, 1 draw, and 8 losses since then.

The Portland Timbers beat the Sounders yesterday 3-0 at Lumen. Is that a good omen? We will see. Get wild in the comments and tell us your predictions!

Fans in the United States, Canada, and abroad will be able to watch on Twitch.