A lot of water had gone under the bridge since the beginning of the season when the Portland Thorns opened its tenth year in the league against the Kansas City Current. The opponent was coming from their rookie year in the NWSL, one that was not kind at all for them. Maybe that’s why it was easy to prognosticate a favorable result for the Thorns in their opening match back then.
That game ended in a comfortable win for Rhian Wilkinson’s team, her first win of the season as Portland’s head coach.
After the big blow of losing Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams due to injury, Kansas City didn’t start its season strong. It took them some time to recover from their (promising) Challenge Cup run but by the end of May, they started their 13-game unbeaten run. Nobody was talking about KC by the middle of the year but they were doing the job just as much as Portland was under a coach who also is in his rookie year in the NWSL.
After a terrible August, Portland cut their bad month run with a win against Orlando while Kansas City finished their unbeaten run with a 0-4 loss against Chicago on Wednesday. Nonetheless, Matt Potter’s team is in the third position in the table although, they have played one more game than the Thorns, who are sitting in the 4th position. Do not fret, though, because the two top teams have played two more matches than Portland.
The Thorns have played only three times against KC in the past for the regular season. And in each of these games, they have held the Current scoreless (2 W, 1 D). But history won’t matter much at this point of the year when every point counts and Kansas City is not the same we saw at the end of April anymore. They have grown a lot under coach Potter and despite their losses (points and key players), they never looked back. Lo’eau Labonta has taken the main role in the club and she has the experience needed to lead them even against tough teams like Portland.
That’s why it’s good that the Thorns have gone back to their winning ways, but they must be careful. They will be playing in enemy territory, against a team that got trashed in their midweek game and they will want to bounce back in front of their home crowd.
On the injury report side of things, Emily Menges is back on the questionable list for Thorns, while Elizabeth Ball and Jaycie Johnson won’t be available for Kansas City.
This upcoming match will be a good one for the Thorns, now that the Shield run has only four games left and the playoffs are so close. The stakes are higher than ever.