Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (5-4-5, 20 points) welcome the Portland Thorns (9-3-1, 28 points) to Exploria Stadium. This is the third and final meeting between the teams this season. The Pride are coming off their first win in seven games and the Thorns are currently atop the NWSL.
The Pride are 2-9-1 all-time against the Thorns and 1-4-1 at home. While the Pride have struggled against tonight’s opponent since joining the NWSL in 2016, the teams have split the two meetings so far this season.
The first game between the two teams this year was on May 26 at Exploria Stadium. In the 22nd minute, Alex Morgan opened the scoring with a far post strike off an over-the-top assist from Taylor Kornieck. However, the Thorns equalized just before the half when Simone Charley met a Natalia Kuikka cross for the equalizer. Just 17 seconds into the second half, a misplay by Kelli Hubly allowed Sydney Leroux to get in on goal, lifting the Pride to a 2-1 win.
The second and most recent meeting occurred on July 18 in Portland. Despite the scoreline, this game was all Thorns. A Pride turnover allowed Sophia Smith to make a long run and beat Ashlyn Harris from just outside the box for the opener. The Thorns doubled their lead in the 58th minute through a Marissa Everett header. Marisa Viggiano pulled one back in the final moments but it wasn’t enough as the Thorns took the second meeting 2-1.
The Pride’s withdrawal from the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup meant that the two teams didn’t play last year. In 2019, the Thorns took all three games played between the two teams, outscoring the Pride 9-4. Despite a strong, six-save performance by Harris, the first game of 2019 went to the Thorns. Caitlin Foord and Tobin Heath both had a goal and an assist in the 2-0 result.
The two teams met again on May 11, 2019, again in Orlando. Toni Pressley scored the game’s first goal just 10 minutes in. However, the Thorns responded with three unanswered goals, defeating the Pride 3-1. The final game between the teams that year came on July 14, 2019. Hayley Raso gave the Thorns the lead in the third minute and the lead grew to 3-0 with a pair of early second-half goals. The Pride made a valiant comeback, ending with Erin Greening’s equalizer in the 90th minute. Unfortunately, Tyler Lussi scored four minutes later, allowing the Thorns to escape with the 4-3 win.
While the Pride and Thorns have a history of starting seasons against each other, their first meeting in 2018 didn’t occur until the third game. The Pride took the lead through Chioma Ubogagu, but Lindsey Horan equalized eight minutes later. Christine Sinclair went on to score the winner as the Thorns won 2-1.
The second meeting came on May 12, 2018, which saw the Pride’s first-ever win over their Oregon-based opponent. Morgan opened the scoring in the 11th minute and Christine Nairn doubled the lead in the 21st minute. Sinclair was able to cut the deficit in half in the 23rd minute, but that was the end of the scoring as the Pride won 2-1.
The final meeting that season came on Aug. 11 in Orlando. Horan and Raso each scored in the game as the Thorns won 2-0.
The Pride opened the 2017 season in Portland. Nadia Nadim and Sinclair both scored as the Thorns took the first meeting that year 2-0. Late September saw the second meeting between the two in Orlando, but this one ended in a scoreless draw. Two weeks later, the teams met in the Pride’s only playoff appearance. The Thorns took a 2-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes, before Alanna Kennedy cut the deficit in half in the 23rd minute. However, Raso and Sinclair both scored in the second half, leading the Thorns to 4-1 win.
The 2016 season was the Pride’s first in the NWSL and started out west on April 17, 2016. Steph Catley scored the first goal in Pride history in the 12th minute, giving the team the early lead. Dagny Brynjarsdottir equalized in the 25th minute and Horan won it for the hosts in the 82nd. The second meeting came on June 26 in Orlando. Jasmyne Spencer gave the Pride the lead again in the 67th minute, but the Thorns scored two late goals to walk away with a 2-1 win.
After starting the season on a seven-game unbeaten run, the Pride slid down the NWSL standings, starting just before the departure of the team’s Olympians. After a six-game winless stretch, which included four losses, the Pride got back in the win column last week with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars. It was the first win in two games under interim head coach Becky Burleigh, who is 1-0-1 since taking over.
Last week’s game saw the return of starting left back Ali Riley and midfielder Marta, despite only rejoining training last Friday. This week, the Pride will return home to face the top team in the NWSL with nearly a full squad.
The Thorns come into this game on a four-game winning streak and are unbeaten in their last six. The last time the Thorns ended a game without any points was their 2-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage on June 26.
“Portland is in first place for a reason,” Burleigh said about tonight’s game. “They’re a really good team and really talented. I think, for us, it’s about finding a way to assert our identity but also recognizing the strengths that they have and trying to take those away,”
The Pride come into this game the strongest they’ve been in weeks. The only international absence will be Morgan, who represented the U.S. in the Olympics and picked up a knock in stoppage time of the bronze medal game. Carrie Lawrence (right ankle), Jade Moore (left knee), and Viviana Villacorta (ACL) are joined by Kylie Strom (excused absence) as players who won’t be available. Additionally, Ali Krieger (right knee) is listed as questionable for this game.
The Thorns have even more absences tonight, as none of their Olympians traveled. That includes Crystal Dunn (United States), Adrianna Franch (United States), Horan (United States), Becky Sauerbrunn (United States), and Sinclair (Canada). Additionally, the Thorns will be without midfielders Celeste Boueille (wrist) and Yazmeen Ryan (ankle).
Tyler Lussi (hip) and Morgan Weaver (ankle) are questionable for this game, but are expected to dress. However, it’s unknown how much they’ll be involved.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Phoebe McClernon, Amy Turner, Ali Krieger, Ali Riley.
Midfielders: Courtney Petersen, Marisa Viggiano, Gunny Jonsdottir.
Forwards: Marta, Jodie Taylor, Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Brittany Wilson, Ally Haran, Toni Pressley, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Erika Tymrak, Chelsee Washington, Abi Kim, Taylor Kornieck, Crystal Thomas.
Portland Thorns (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Bella Bixby.
Defenders: Meghan Klingenberg, Kelli Hubly, Emily Menges, Natalia Kuikka.
Midfielders: Rocky Rodriguez, Angela Salem, Olivia Moultrie.
Forwards: Simone Charley, Marissa Everett, Sophia Smith.
Bench: Shelby Hogan, Meaghan Nally, Madison Pogarch, Hannah Betfort, Christen Westphal, Taylor Porter, Tyler Lussi, Morgan Weaver, Raisa Strom-Okimoto.
Ref: Matthew Franz.
AR1: Jennifer Garner.
AR2: Melissa Gonzalez.
4th: Alejo Calume.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Streaming: Paramount+ (USA), Twitch (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!