Portland Thorns, Washington Spirit prepare to rumble in D.C.
Tobin Heath has assisted in all four goals the Portland Thorns FC have scored thus far. Photo provided by Craig Mitchelldyer.

Portland Thorns, Washington Spirit prepare to rumble in D.C.

NWSL: The Spirit will be looking to extend their perfect record. The Thorns can take over first place with a victory at Washington on Saturday.

JorgeBelon
Jorge Belon

The Portland Thorns FC are heading to the nation’s capitol to face the Washington Spirit on Saturday at the Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex.

Heavy weight matchup

It’s a battle between first and second in the National Women’s Soccer League. This is also a match between the two clubs that have yet to lose a game in the season. The Spirit is in first place with a perfect (W-D-L) 3-0-0 record. The Thorns are in second with seven points in three matches played.

The Washington Spirit will be hoping that Crystal Dunn (Left) scores her first goal of the season on Saturday against Portland Thorns FC. Photo provided by Chris Colvin.
The Washington Spirit will be hoping that Crystal Dunn (Left) scores her first goal of the season on Saturday against Portland Thorns FC. Photo provided by Chris Colvin.

Portland and Washington have a combined seven U.S. National Team players between them. The Thorns have five of them in their starting lineup. Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan and Allie Long control the midfield of Portland. Meghan Klingenberg and Emily Sonnett are the rocks in the defense for the Thorns.

The Spirit may only have two USWNT’s players but they make an impact. The World Cup veteran and Washington captain Ali Krieger shores up the defense with her presence. Krieger also adds to the attack with her runs down the flanks.

Then, upfront for the Spirit is Crystal Dunn. The 23-year-old speedster is a handful for any defense that comes across her path. She has yet to score a goal this season but she has dished out three assists. Dunn is currently second in the league in the assist department, only Heath is ahead of her with four.

The battle in the midfield

Washington has created six goals and four of them have been assisted. All of the Thorns goals have been set up by Heath. These two midfields are slick with their movement of the ball. They can switch from defense to offense in the blink of an eye which causes havoc for many clubs, hence their dominance.

Lindsey Horan (Center) will be looking to score her third goal of the season on Saturday against the Washington Spirit. Photo provided by Craig Mitchelldyer.
Lindsey Horan (Center) will be looking to score her third goal of the season on Saturday against the Washington Spirit. Photo provided by Craig Mitchelldyer.

The Boston Breakers at times found away to slow down Portland last Sunday. It was a simple approach play physical with them. However, in the second half their game plan fell apart as the Breakers attempted to score. In result, Portland was able to run at them and eventually they broke through and pulled off the 1-0 victory.

Even the Breakers physical approach bothered the Spirit in week one. Boston slowed Washington down by committing 12 fouls in the match. However, an early goal from midfielder Joanna Lohman proved to be the game winner in the third minute. The Spirit barely squeaked by Boston 1-0 at home in their season opener on April 16th.

However, it is safe to say that these two clubs will produce a fast pace and entertaining game.

Spirit's captain Ali Krieger has been the leader of the back line that has only allowed one goal in three games this season. Photo provided by Chris Colvin
Spirit's captain Ali Krieger has been the leader of the back line that has only allowed one goal in three games this season. Photo provided by Chris Colvin

The stars need to step up

In this big match up players like Heath, Horan, Long and Dunn have to step up. Washington will need Dunn to score her first goal of the season if they want to continue their perfect record. The Thorns carry a bigger punch and will most likely find a way to win the game.  

Prediction: Washington 2-3 Portland

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