Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (4-2-4, 16 points) head out west to take on the Portland Thorns (5-3-1, 16 points). It’s a Sunday night battle between two of the top three teams in the NWSL. This is the second of three scheduled meetings against Portland this season, with the Thorns returning to Exploria Stadium on Aug. 14.
The Pride have struggled historically against the Thorns, coming away with a 2-9-1 record going back to 2016. However, the Pride won the first meeting between the two teams this season back in May.
Alex Morgan got the scoring started in the 22nd minute. Taylor Kornieck sent the striker through over the top and Morgan scored a wonderful goal to the far post. But just before the half, Simone Charley powered into the box, meeting a Natalia Kuikka cross for the equalizer. However, just 17 seconds into the second half, Sydney Leroux took advantage of a misplay by Kelli Hubly, scoring the deciding goal as the Pride held on for the 2-1 win.
In 2019, the Pride lost all three meetings against the Thorns by a combined score of 9-4. In the first game of the season, Ashlyn Harris was excellent with six saves but Caitlin Foord and Tobin Heath each had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 result.
Less than a month later, Toni Pressley opened the scoring off a Pride corner. The Thorns responded with three unanswered goals, coming away with the 3-1 win. The final game came on July 14, 2019. The Thorns took the lead just three minutes in and went on to take a commanding 3-0 lead. The Pride fought back valiantly, equalizing on Erin Greening’s 90th-minute goal. However, Tyler Lussi was left open in injury time for the late winner as the Thorns won 4-3.
In 2018, the two teams met in the season’s third game. Chioma Ubogagu gave the Pride the lead in Portland but the Thorns struck back just eight minutes later with an equalizer by Lindsey Horan. Christine Sinclair scored the winner 11 minutes later as the Thorns won 2-1.
On May 12, 2018, the Pride beat the Thorns for the first time. Morgan started the scoring in the 11th minute and Christine Nairn doubled the lead in the 21st minute. The Thorns pulled one back in the 23rd minute through Sinclair but it wasn’t enough as the Pride won 2-1.
The final game between the two teams that season went to Portland. Horan and Hayley Raso recorded the scoring as the Thorns won 2-0.
The two teams started the 2017 season against each other in Orlando. Nadia Nadim and Sinclair led the visitors to a 2-0 win. The second meeting didn’t come until late September and resulted in the Pride getting their first point against the west-coast side in a scoreless draw. Two weeks later they met again in the Pride’s first and only playoff game. The Thorns scored twice in the first 20 minutes before Alanna Kennedy pulled one back in the 23rd minute. However, two late goals by Raso and Sinclair lifted the Thorns to the 4-1 win.
The Pride launched their inaugural season in Portland on April 17, 2016. Steph Catley gave the expansion side the surprising lead in the 12th minute. Dagny Brynjarsdottir equalized in the 25th minute and Horan won it in the 82nd. Later in the year, the Pride hosted the Thorns for the first time. Jasmyne Spencer opened the scoring in the 67th minute but Portland scored twice in the final 11 minutes, returning home with a 2-1 win.
The Pride got off to a flying start in 2021, going unbeaten in their first seven games. With the Olympians leaving one by one, the Pride have dropped points in their last three straight matches. It started with a 2-1 loss in Houston and continued on July 4 with a 2-0 loss to North Carolina.
It looked as though the Pride would lose their third straight game last weekend to Racing Louisville. Fortunately for the home team, Leroux scored a late equalizer as the Pride pulled out the 1-1 draw.
The Thorns come into this game having claimed points in five of their last six games, dating back to their game in Orlando. After winning three of four, the Thorns ended in a scoreless draw with Gotham FC last week.
The major storyline for this game will be the players absent. Ali Riley has left the Pride to join New Zealand ahead of the upcoming Olympics, meaning that all Pride Olympians are now gone. Morgan (United States), Marta (Brazil), and Erin McLeod (Canada) are the other three players missing.
The Thorns will be missing even more than the Pride during the Olympics, as Crystal Dunn, Adrianna Franch, Horan, and Becky Sauerbrunn are with the USWNT and Sinclair is with Canada.
Despite the missing players, Portland has a strong team and plays its home games in front of the largest crowds in the NWSL.
“Phenomenal threats,” Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said about tonight’s opponent. “They have so much quality and they play slightly different when they’re in front of their home fans. We’re going to have to be very disciplined when we’re away from the ball and then, when we get it, we have to express ourselves like they do.
“We feel really good. It’s been a while since we went to Portland. It’s a beautiful place to be. It’s a real footballing challenge because they have a great fan base over there as we do here. We’re really looking forward to going over there because we’re a different team than when we first approached that [May 26] game. I think there’s an excitement, there’s a verve, there’s an energy. We want to go out there and show who we are now.”
In addition to the Olympians, the Pride will be without Jade Moore (knee) and Carrie Lawrence (ankle). Additionally, Phoebe McClernon and Marisa Viggiano are listed as questionable with foot injuries.
Portland will only be missing Tyler Lussi, who is out with a left hip injury.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Amy Turner, Ali Krieger, Kylie Strom.
Midfielders: Erika Tymrak, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Gunny Jonsdottir.
Forwards: Taylor Kornieck, Sydney Leroux, Crystal Thomas.
Bench: Brittany Wilson, Konya Plummer, Toni Pressley, Ally Haran, Phoebe McClernon, Marisa Viggiano, Chelsee Washington, Abi Kim.
Portland Thorns (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Bella Bixby.
Defenders: Meghan Klingenberg, Kelli Hubly, Emily Menges, Natalia Kuikka.
Midfielder: Celeste Boureille, Angela Salem, Rocky Rodriguez.
Forwards: Morgan Weaver, Marissa Everett, Sophia Smith.
Bench: Shelby Hogan, Madison Pogarch, Meaghan Nally, Christen Westphal, Yazmeen Ryan, Olivia Moultrie, Simone Charley, Raisa Strom-Okimoto, Hannah Betfort.
REF: Laura Rodriguez.
AR1: Salma Perez.
AR2: Katarzyna Wasiak.
4TH: Dion Coxe.
How to Watch
Match Time: 10:30 p.m.
Venue: Providence Park — Portland, OR.
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!