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Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns, NWSL Semifinals: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

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The Pride play their first playoff match in the most hostile of territories.

Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Welcome to your match thread for today’s NWSL semifinal match-up between the third-place Orlando Pride (11-6-7, 40 points) and the Portland Thorns (14-5-5, 47 points). This is the third of the two scheduled meetings between the two sides this season and the first time ever in the postseason, with the Thorns holding a 1-0-1 edge in 2017.

It’s a battle of the two hottest teams in the league. The Pride finished the season on a 6-0-3 run, while the Thorns cruised to an incredible 9-1-2 mark down the stretch, including a 0-0 draw at Orlando just two weeks ago. Both teams featured some tired bodies in that game, returning from an international break. The Pride were especially leggy, with three Brazilians and two Aussies coming back from friendlies in Australia.

Orlando is 0-3-1 in the all-time series against the Thorns. In addition to the scoreless draw Sept. 23, the Pride fell 2-0 in the season opener back in April in Portland. Nadia Nadim scored from the penalty spot after Alanna Kennedy was called for a handball in the box late in the first half of that game and Christine Sinclair added a second-half insurance tally. The Pride had neither Marta nor Alex Morgan in that game.

Portland won both matches last season, both by 2-1 scores. The Thorns captured the Pride’s inaugural NWSL game at Portland in last year’s season opener, with Steph Catley opening the scoring with Orlando’s first-ever goal. Dagny Brynjarsdottir tied the game before halftime and Lindsey Horan found a winner late in the second half. The teams met again in June of last year with Portland again winning. The Pride scored first again with Jasmyne Spencer giving Orlando a second-half lead. But Brynjarsdottir tied it in the 79th minute and Horan found the game winner in the 90th, as the Thorns again snatched three points late.

The Pride are coming off a 3-2 win at North Carolina last Saturday. Kennedy’s stunning free kick in stoppage time gave Orlando the win after a Lynn Williams brace had erased the Pride’s 2-0 lead. Kristen Edmonds and Marta also scored for Tom Sermanni’s side. With the win, the Pride avoided returning to play the Courage again this weekend and instead are in Portland after capturing third place.

Portland helped with that, knocking off the Chicago Red Stars at Providence Park on the final weekend, 3-1. Hayley Raso, Ashleigh Sykes, and Nadim provided the offense, more than offsetting Sofia Huerta’s goal for Chicago. The Thorns were dominant against the fourth-place team, out-shooting the Red Stars, 23-7.

By going to Portland instead of North Carolina, the Pride picked the path of most resistance to the NWSL championship game. The Thorns are 10-1-1 at Providence Park in 2017, boasting the league’s top home record in front of more than 16,000 fans, on average. The Pride are 0-2 there, having been outscored, 4-1. For its part, Orlando has the league’s second-best road record this season (to the Courage’s 7-4-1), at 5-4-3.

The Pride will hope the old adage that defense wins championships isn’t true on this day. Portland has the league’s best defense, allowing just 20 goals all season (just eight at home) and keeping 11 clean sheets. Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch set an NWSL record with her 11th shutout of the year in the last meeting between the two sides.

Orlando, on the other hand, has the league’s best offense, scoring 45 goals this season. The Pride were shut out only four times in 2017, but two of those came against Portland.

“Honestly, nothing that we did this season matters anymore,” Pride midfielder/defender Kristen Edmonds said after training on Thursday. “This game is win or go home. We need a winner, so there will be no draw. Last game we played them it was a fight and I think this game’s going to be even more of a fight than that game was.”

Orlando is fairly healthy with the notable exception of rising Brazilian star Camila, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in last week’s win at North Carolina. Portland lists only Meg Morris (hip) as out.

Official Lineups:

Orlando Pride (3-5-2)

Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.

Defenders: Toni Pressley, Ali Krieger, Monica.

Midfielders: Steph Catley, Chioma Ubogagu, Alanna Kennedy, Dani Weatherholt, Kristen Edmonds.

Forwards: Alex Morgan, Marta.

Bench: Aubrey Bledsoe, Danica Evans, Nickolette Driesse, Jamia Fields, Rachel Hill, Jasmyne Spencer, Jo Blankenship.

Portland Thorns (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Adrianna Franch.

Defenders: Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Menges, Emily Sonnett, Katherine Reynolds.

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan, Ashleigh Sykes, Amandine Henry.

Forwards: Tobin Heath, Christine Sinclair, Hayley Raso.

Bench: Britt Eckerstrom, Celeste Bourielle, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Tyler Lussi, Mallory Weber, Allie Long, Nadia Nadim.

Referees

Ref: Timothy Ford.

AR1: Deleana Quan.

AR2: John Krill.

4th: Farhad Dadkho.

How to Watch

Match Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET).

Venue: Providence Park — Portland, OR.

TV: Lifetime.

Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).

Streaming: NWSLSoccer.com or the Lifetime app.

Twitter: For live updates, follow along at the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride) and on The Mane Land’s Twitter (@TheManeLand).

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