The reigning NWSL champions, the Portland Thorns will welcome the Washington Spirit to Providence Park for the first meeting between the two teams this season. Portland will look to continue their two game winning streak where as Washington is looking to bounce back from a 4-2 loss to the undefeated North Carolina Courage.
The Thorns are very much in favor for this match-up. The record between these two teams at Providence Park is 5-0-2, Portland. Last season, the two teams met three times. The first time they saw each other they were in Maryland when Francisca Ordega scored an early goal in the 19th minute to give the Spirit a win over Portland. The next time, it would be in Portland. The Spirit didn't have much luck in this match as before. Havana Solaun had the first goal of the match in the 58th minute. It was just shortly after, Allie Long scored the equalizer in the 62nd minute. Mallory Weber then scored the winner in the 80th minute, sending Washington home with zero points.
The final match-up last season was not even close to as close as the others. The Spirit were unable to get pass the Portland defense but they were also unable to shut down the Portland offense. The Thorns scored three goals in the first half with Nadia Nadim scoring in the 22nd minute and then just three minutes afterwards Chrstine Sinclair doubled the lead. To close out the half, Emily Sonnett added another to make the lead three. The second half was scoreless until the 81st minute when Sinclair scored her second of the night for the brace and the win.
Players to Watch
The Thorns are coming off of a two game winning streak. The momentum for them is high especially as they get to play in front of their fans. The most important players for Washington to keep an eye on is Lindsay Horan and Christine Sinclair. As of now, Sinclair leads the league with three goals and one assist. Horan is right behind her with two goals and one assist. Lately, these two have formed a serious partnership. Washington also has to watch out for the return of Tobin Heath and the newest addition of Ana-Maria Crnogorčević. Heath was finally taken off the injury list after a very long time and has been reported to make her season debut against the Spirit. Crnogorčević made her NWSl debut against the Orlando Pride last week and just for the few minutes she played, she created many chances and challenged the Pride's defense. She should be an exciting player to watch and a tough one to play against.
The Spirit is filled with youth and those are the players Portland will have to look out for the most. Mallory Pugh has scored in her last two games. She leads the team with two goals and create chances for her team and causes trouble in any backline. Another player right behind Pugh would be reigning Rookie of the Year, Ashley Hatch. Hatch has one goal and one assist on the season so far. She has also worked well with Pugh to get the ball moving and create chances. Audrey Bledsoe has been key for the Spirit. She has a total of 21 saves and one clean sheet on the season. Although she has six goals allowed she has still be a big part of the Spirit's defense. Another player to watch will be Joanna Lohman. Lohman just returned from a torn ACL and is already creating trouble for other teams.
Injury Report for Both Teams
Portland Thorns FC
OUT: Emily Menges, Meg Morris, Angela Salem
QUESTIONABLE: Elizabeth Ball
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Andressinha (BRA), Ellie Carpenter (AUS), Caitlin Foord (AUS), Hayley Raso (AUS)
OUT: Rose Lavelle, Cheyna Matthews, Rebecca Quinn, Arielle Ship
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Yanara Aedo (CHI), Estefania Banini (ARG)
You can catch this game live Friday, April 20th at 10:30pm EST on the go90 app or stream it live on nwslsoccer.com.