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Match Preview: Portland Thorns @ North Carolina Courage

The Thorns continue their quest for the Shield on the road.

Morgan Weaver celebrates her goal against North Carolina USA Today

It’s the second time in less than one month that the Portland Thorns face the North Carolina Courage. But this time, they had to hit the road to travel to Cary where the match will kick off at 6 PM Pacific time.

The last time both clubs met, they gifted us a thrilling match that ended up in a 3-3 draw, and Morgan Weaver’s celebration after her goal was the cherry on top of that game (right?). That match no doubt reminded us of the rivalry between these two good teams, and although both have changed a lot in the last two years— and one was at the bottom of the table by the beginning of the month— we know what they’re capable of.

When checking the results, we can see that no other team could score 3 goals on Portland but the Courage. Even more so, North Carolina has become a goal-scoring machine in their last 4 games, cruising against Chicago with an impressive 4-0 result. Only the Thorns and Houston have more goals than the Courage this season (36, 29, and 27, respectively).

Team’s goal scorers

Diana Ordóñez has a lot to do with her team’s run, as she has scored in five straight matches. She’s the first NC player in the club’s history to score in five consecutive games, according to Opta. She already scored two goals against the Thorns and was one of the main players responsible for that 3-3 result at the beginning of the month, so the defense will want to pay special attention to her.

For the Thorns side, we all are in awe of Sophia Smith, and rightly so, but I think it’s important to mention that Christine Sinclair is one of the top goal scorers on the team too. Even though she has been absent often with her national team duties, the 39-year-old bagged her fifth goal of the season in the game against Washington Spirit. That goal was significant since it made the 2022 season the eighth time she scored at least five goals in a single season (she was tied in this category along with Sam Kerr). Impressive, huh?

After two losses at WICC, Portland will want to get a win but— the Courage won’t make it easy. The Thorns will be playing at North Carolina’s field and the hosts have proved that, although they’re 15 points behind Portland, they have awaked and they’re not planning to end their season in the last position.

The last piece of good news before you consider the outcome of this match: only Crystal Dunn is out in the availability report. The rest of the roster is available, including Emily Menges (yesss). For the Courage, Havana Solaun is out and Denise O’Sullivan is on the questionable list.

What are your predictions for tonight’s game? Let us know if the comments!

The match will kick off at 4 p.m. Pacific and will be streamed on Paramount+ for USA and Twitch for international fans.