The penultimate episode of the season will kick off at 1 p.m Pacific when the Portland Thorns host Chicago Red Stars at Providence Park.
It was May when both clubs met for the first time this year, and that game ended in a 2-2 draw with goals scored by Pugh and Hill for the Red Stars while Hina Sugita and Sophia Smith scored for Portland.
This upcoming match is a must-win for both. For the Thorns, three points will mean being closer to claiming the Supporters Shield, while for the Red Stars it will mean being closer to securing a playoff spot. Their postseason seemed like a sure thing up until recently when North Carolina decided to wake up and make a final push for the playoffs. And so far, that push is working.
After a 3-0 win yesterday, the Courage claimed the sixth position on the table, meaning that Chicago needs to win this game. A draw will complicate things for them since Angel City is breathing down their necks as well, only one point behind them in the standings. And Chicago didn’t do themselves any favors by losing to Houston last Saturday.
In that match, Houston could control Mallory Pugh very well, not giving her more than one chance to shoot. That was her fewest shots in any NWSL game this year, and the last time she registered only one shot was in the 2021 final against Washington, according to Opta.
Portland will need to replicate what the Dash did so they can have a better chance to get the victory and also try to be more clinical in the final third. It is true that they got a good win against Racing Louisville last Wednesday, but we can’t forget how they couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net in the first half although they had many chances to do so.
Any team dropping points in this final week will suffer the consequences of it. The Thorns already clinched a playoff berth but they will want to secure a game at Providence Park and obtain a first round bye if possible. Although we don’t know for sure if the Supporter’s Shield is their priority, given the club’s winning mentality it’s a sure thing that the piece of silverware is on their minds.
Somebody tell the league… WE’RE IN! #BAONPDX pic.twitter.com/NJ8xuH2MsR— X - Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) September 22, 2022
Last Wednesday, Emily Menges was the only player on the injury report, with her right foot still nagging her, but for this weekend she’s off of it and all thorns are available.
The game will be streamed on Paramount + for the United States while fans abroad can watch on Twitch and listen on Sirius XM FC.