Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (2-8-2, 8 points) take on the Portland Thorns (5-2-4, 19 points) at Providence Park. The match is the first of the season to be aired on an ESPN network after ESPN and the NWSL agreed to a broadcasting deal to air 14 games. This is the third and final meeting between the Pride and Thorns in 2019.
History has not been kind to Orlando when Portland is involved. The Pride are just 1-8-1 all-time and have lost in both of the previous matches this season by a combined score of 5-1.
The teams faced off in the opening match of this season. Ashlyn Harris kept the Pride alive, finishing with six saves, but Caitlin Foord and Tobin Heath assisted each other for both goals in the 2-0 game.
Less than a month later they played again, and once again Portland won by two goals. Toni Pressley headed in a corner to open the scoring, but then Portland came right back. Poor defending led to the first Portland goal, a pointless foul and perfectly placed free kick put the Thorns ahead, and more poor defending killed off the game. The Pride lost 3-1 and remained winless at that point in the season.
Orlando has only beaten the Thorns once, and that came last season on May 12. Alex Morgan and Christine Nairn both scored in the first 25 minutes, and Nairn’s goal was one for the highlight reel. After a failed Portland clearance, Nairn chested the ball down and shot off the half volley from about 30 yards out, and the ball ended up in the back of the net. It was no surprise that Christine Sinclair found the net in this game, two minutes after Nairn’s goal, but the Pride were able to fend off the Thorns to take all three points.
Portland won the other two games last season, and the only additional time that the Pride earned any points against Portland was in a goalless draw at the end of the 2017 season.
While the Pride have struggled to get a result the majority of the season, Orlando has done well in recent weeks. Orlando has just one loss in the last four matches. Meanwhile, Portland, currently in third place in the NWSL, has only one win in its previous four games.
In the last match, the Thorns fell to Reign FC, 1-0. The Reign’s Jess Fishlock tore her ACL, and Celia Jiménez Delgado got the start instead. Portland failed to clear a free kick in the 55th minute, and Delgado powered a shot from distance into the back of the net. Portland managed just one shot on goal in the match. The result put the Reign in first place, although only three points separate the top five teams.
The Pride are 10 points out of a playoff spot but hope to put a solid run of performances together to move up in the standings. Orlando is five points behind Houston and so cannot move up the table with a win. The Pride put on an offensive clinic in their last match. Goals from Marta (2), Chioma Ubogagu, and Rachel Hill saw Orlando beat the Washington Spirit 4-3 for the Pride’s first home win of the season. After the game, Marc Skinner talked about how the team needs to defend better and cannot rely on putting up fouls goals a game.
Going into Portland is never easy, and the Thorns have led the NWSL in attendance every year so far and have the highest average attendance in the world. The Thorns average an announced attendance of 16,959 fans a game.
“Portland is more of a cauldron of a place to go and travel,” Skinner said before training on Tuesday. “I think you’ve got to be really good to get a result there, so we have to be consistent in the messages that we have. We know what Portland are going to throw at us. We know they are going to try and get width, they’re going to try and use maybe a 3-5-2 system.
“So we’re going to look at how to stop that but also how to affect the other shapes that they have. And I think we have to pick the moments to attack them because I think we can get through them and I think we can score goals, but we’ve got to take the same confidence in. We’ve got to go in there knowing we can score goals and quiet the crowd because it’s going to be a wonderful experience. I’m really looking forward to it, to be honest. It’s a great way to show the team that there’s something to fight against here and that’ll be a really good thing for us.”
Midfielder Midge Purce leads the Thorns in scoring. She has found the back of the net five times in nine games this season. However, they also will be boosted with the return of international players. Ellie Carpenter, Andressinha, Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso, and Sinclair are all back with Portland and should be an integral part of the team tonight.
The Pride have found their offense since their own international players have returned. Ubogagu has scored three goals in her last three games, while Marta has three in the past two games. Hill opened up her account, and Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond put on excellent performances in their first match back from France.
Of course, the U.S. internationals for both teams will not be available — Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, and Ashlyn Harris for Orlando, and Adrianna Franch, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, and Emily Sonnett for Portland.
Kristen Edmonds is listed as questionable, but she still is not game fit and will not play. Clarie Emslie is expected to join the team next week after visa issues, and Bridget Callahan remains in concussion protocol. Portland will be without Angela Salem (left knee) and Ana Crnogorcevic (left thigh).
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Haley Kopmeyer.
Defenders: Carson Pickett, Toni Pressley, Shelina Zadorsky, Erin Greening.
Midfielders: Alanna Kennedy, Emily van Egmond, Dani Weatherholt.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Marta, Rachel Hill.
Bench: Lainey Burdett, Abby Elinsky, Danica Evans, Marisa Viggiano, Morgan Reid, Joanna Boyles, Camila.
Portland Thorns (3-5-2)
Goalkeeper: Britt Eckerstrom.
Defenders: Katherine Reynolds, Emily Menges, Elizabeth Ball.
Midfielders: Meghan Klingenberg, Gabby Seiler, Dagný Brynjarsdóttir, Christine Sinclair, Ellie Carpenter.
Forwards: Midge Purce, Hayley Raso.
Bench: Bella Bixby, Andressinha, Caitlin Foord, Simone Charley, Kelli Hubly, Tyler Lussi, Celeste Boureille.
Ref: Matthew Franz.
AR1: Jennifer Garner.
AR2: Katarzyna Wasiak.
4th: Mike Hohnholz.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3 p.m. ET.
Venue: Providence Park — Portland, OR.
Streaming: WatchESPN, NWSLsoccer.com, NWSL app (international).
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!