Welcome to your match thread for today’s match-up between the Orlando Pride (10-6-6, 36 points) and the Portland Thorns (13-5-4, 43 points). This is the second of the two scheduled meetings between the two sides this season and the Pride’s home finale for 2017 unless they reach the NWSL final.
If Orlando wins, the Pride clinch an NWSL playoff berth. A draw would make things a little more precarious but Orlando owns a significant goal differential advantage over the Seattle Reign FC, which must win out.
Orlando is 0-3-0 in the all-time series against the Thorns, after falling 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 1-1 draw against the Seattle Reign back before the international break on Sept. 7. Alex Morgan appeared to have won the game in the 92nd minute, only to see Jessica Fishlock pull the Reign level in the 94th. It snapped Orlando’s five-game win streak but the unbeaten run reached seven (5-0-2).
Portland has won four straight games — most recently a 1-0 win over the Boston Breakers on Sept. 10 — and will be getting USWNT star Tobin Heath back after a lengthy back injury. Heath played a few minutes Tuesday night in the USWNT’s 5-0 win over New Zealand and is expected to see minutes in today’s game.
The Thorns provide a stiff test for the Pride’s NWSL-leading offense. Portland has the second stingiest defense in the league, allowing just 19 goals in 22 games — one more goal than league-leading North Carolina. Yet, Portland is also a good offensive team, sporting the league’s fourth-best offense, led by Sinclair’s eight goals, followed by Nadim and Hayley Raso, who have five goals apiece. Meghan Klingenberg is tied with Orlando’s Marta for second in the NWSL in assists, with six. Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch leads the NWSL in clean sheets (10 in 22 games) and is second in save percentage (80.2%).
“Apart from being a very good team, [Portland] are an experienced team and a very stable team when you look through their selection over the last two or three years,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “They have a very strong, dynamic and experienced midfield. That’s probably where they are the strongest and most dangerous. Throughout the season we’ve been ready to go into games and prepared, [and this game is] the critical one. There always comes those critical times in season and this weekend is one.”
Orlando is fairly healthy with Kristen Edmonds (calf) listed as probable. Portland lists Meg Morris (hip) as out.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Steph Catley, Ali Krieger, Monica, Kristen Edmonds.
Midfielders: Camila, Alanna Kennedy, Dani Weatherholt.
Forwards: Marta, Alex Morgan, Chioma Ubogagu.
Bench: Aubrey Bledsoe, Toni Pressley, Danica Evans, Nickolette Driesse, Jamia Fields, Jasmyne Spencer, Rachel Hill
Portland Thorns (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Adrianna Franch.
Defenders: Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Menges, Emily Sonnett, Katherine Reynolds.
Midfielders: Nadia Nadim, Ashleigh Sykes, Allie Long, Lindsay Horan.
Forwards: Hayley Raso, Christine Sinclair.
Bench: Britt Eckerstrom, Celeste Bourielle, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Savannah Jordan, Mallory Weber, Tobin Heath, Amandine Henry.
Ref: Christopher Spivey.
AR1: Adrienne McDonald.
AR2: Trent Vanhaitsma.
4th: Francesco Terranova.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL.
Streaming: NWSLSoccer.com or the Lifetime app.
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