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Match Preview: Portland Thorns vs North Carolina Courage

August will be a busy month for the Thorns. They’ll want to start off with the right foot.

Portland Thorns players Thorns FC

August will bring a lot of action for the Thorns, with the ICC tournament and the tie-breaker against San Diego at the end of the month. Among those matches, Portland will have to face North Carolina Courage twice in the span of 20 days, with the first of those games happening tonight at Providence Park.

Thorns on fire

Portland is on an unbeaten streak. With the win they collected at Lynn Family Stadium, they extended it to nine games and have scored the impressive number of 27 goals, which is the most goals scored in any nine-game span in the league history, according to Opta.

Will the Thorns be able to extend it to 10? Although the present circumstances of the Courage are not the best, maybe they will want to rekindle the rivalry these teams had before 2021. The games between them were always something to look forward to during the season, with painful losses and big wins from both sides.

Last season, the Thorns ended up unbeaten against North Carolina, with one win and one draw. Even though the visitors won the third edition of the Challenge Cup (taking the title off of Portland’s thorny hands) and showed a very promising start of the year, right now they sit in the last position of the table. Let’s not be fooled, though, because they showed in their past matches they can hurt their opponents and score multiple goals on them. The Courage have shown they can take their chances, and they even have a better conversion rate (20.20% against Thorn’s 19.30% ), although they have had way fewer shots on target (36 against Portland’s 86) in their 10 games played.

Smith is on fire

It’s no news that Sophia Smith is the top goal-scorer of the team, but it’s noteworthy that even though she was coming back from international duty, she made an impact in last week’s match, scoring her ninth goal of the season. In doing so, she has contributed to getting positive results for the Thorns in the last six games she has played, either at home or on the road, with a goal or an assist.

Availability report

Crystal Dunn is still on her way back from maternity leave, and Emily Menges is still recovering from her right-foot injury, so both will be out for the game. Added to them, Meghan Klingenberg is out with a lower-right-leg injury.

In the case of the opponent, Merrit Mathias is on Covid protocol, and Brazilian Kerolin will be out as well (excused absence). Havana Solaun is also out with a knee injury.

The game will stream on Paramount+ and Twitch and will kick off at 7:30 p.m. (Pacific).