The international break is over and it’s time to finish the season. August is finally over (good riddance and never come back!) and the final part of the race for the Shield is upon us.
After months and months of great results and breaking records, the losses reaped in the last month have put the Portland Thorns in the fourth position in the standings, lower than the top of the table they had been battling for week in and week out. With 17 games played, they’re behind Kansas City (which also has the same amount of matches played) and behind Houston and San Diego, both with 18 games in the books.
Well hellooooo Week 16 standings pic.twitter.com/Ia2qZszuvK— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 29, 2022
Every point will count from now on if they want to win the Shield. But, should they put all their money into the Championship instead? Well, according to a recent poll made on the Stumptown Footy Twitter account, fans want to go to the ‘Ship more than they want the Shield.
❓ Trivia of the night: If it were up to you for the Thorns to win silverware this year, what would you choose? The Shield or the Championship? "Both" is NOT an option. #BAONPDX— Stumptown Footy (@StumptownFooty) August 28, 2022
Will that be the case for Rhian Wilkinson and her players? The Thorns already won the Shield last year, but failed once again in the playoffs. So who knows? Maybe it’s time to bring the Championship to Portland again. After all, it’s already been almost 5 years since they won it.
Against the Pride
The opponent for today’s match is Orlando Pride, a team that we got used to seeing at the bottom of the table, despite also once having many high-profile names on their roster. Funny enough, the club started to show grit and function like a team once those high-profile players were gone. Right now, they’re behind Angel City in the 8th position with 21 points, only 5 points shy of Chicago, the last team in playoff position.
The only time these two teams met in the 2022 regular season was one to remember. Because, who can forget this?
Portland trounced the Pride with a 6-0 win, the biggest loss in the Florida club’s history. Will Orlando take revenge? They were on a six game unbeaten streak that was ended just before the international break. Can they resume it in this final part of the season? We hope they can do it after the game against the Thorns.
I hope Portland can pay extra attention to Meggie Dougherty Howard. She has scored two goals in her last three games and will come to this one with enough confidence to score a third.
In Portland’s defeat against Wave FC, Morgan Weaver was the most dangerous player on the field and she deserved at least one goal. Let’s hope she can continue with that energy in this match and get her reward. After all, she’s in the top 5 of players with most shots since July 1, tied with Sophia Smith (25, courtesy of Opta). Let’s also hope that Sophia can keep bringing goals to the Thorns’ table after scoring a brace with the USWNT during the international break.
And speaking of the national team, Crystal Dunn is officially off the injury report after being invited to train with the USWNT in the games against Nigeria. Now that the entire roster is available, and we’ll all be eagerly waiting to see who’s going to be in tonight’s starting XI.
The game will kick off at 4 PM Pacific at Exploria Stadium and will be streamed on Paramount+ for fans in the US and on Twitch for international fans.