For the second time this season, the Washington Spirit will face off against the Portland Thorns. Both teams have been without a win in their last five games. It's an important match-up for both teams as we're nearing in on the half-way mark of the season.
The last time the two teams met up was back in April. The game ended in a 1-1 draw after the Spirit opened the scoring up in the 37th minute. There was a mess in the box after a corner kick from Tori Huster and the Thorns weren't able to clear the ball. Francisca Ordega was able to convert for the Spirit. The Spirit's lead didn't last long. Two minutes after the 45 minute mark, Ifeoma Onumonu was tripped in the box. Christine Sinclair slotted the ball pass Audrey Bledsoe to tie the match.
Washington looks for second overall win
The Spirit will return home after a 1-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage on the road. They have been shutout in back to back games and haven't won a game on the road yet. As they head back to their home field they will look to earn their second win for the season. The only game they have won so far was their home opener against the Orlando Pride. Washington is second to last in the standings and is just above Sky Blue FC by four points. It is important for Washington to start getting some points and adding tallies into the win column if they want to have a shot at the playoffs.
The Spirit were predicted to be one of the most improved teams this season with the amount of talent they added during the off season. Although they have improved a bit, it hasn't really gotten them anywhere yet. Going against a Portland defense it will be important for their star scorers to get into the attack and create messes like they did in the previous match. Ordega leads the Spirit with three goals scored this season and has shown an ability to score against the Thorns. If they can get Mallory Pugh and even Ashley Hatch into this mix, the Spirit could create some trouble for the Thorns defense.
Down on the other end, Bledsoe leads the league with 37 saves. Bledsoe made five saves against the Thorns in the last game, one of them even being a blocked PK from Lindsay Horan. Estelle Johnson is second in the league with 45 clearances. The Spirit had 29 clearances against the Thorns. If the defense can hold strong they could shut Portland out.
Portland hungry for a win
As most know, Portland are the reigning NWSL Champions. Now, if you look at where they are in the standings and how they've been playing this year it might seem otherwise. At the moment, the Thorns have a record of 2-3-3 (9 points) which lands them in fifth place. They've scored 11 goals but have let 12 go against and haven't had one shut out. If you take these statistics and compare them to where they were last year it's a pretty big difference. By week 8, the Thorns had a record of 4-1-3 (15 points) which landed them in third place, 11 goals for, only five against, and five shut outs. The longest winless streak they had last season was three games and they were all ties. The Thorns are on their fifth consecutive game without a win and could be adding a sixth.
The Thorns suffered a loss of a lot of talented players but with this being said, they still gained a lot of these types of players back. The Thorns have also suffered greatly from injuries but a lot of these players are starting to return to the field and it's time to kick the gears into action. With the amount of talent and experience the Thorns have on their roster, they should be winning a lot more games. If they want to have a shot at getting back to where they were last year they've really got to start winning more games and earning more points.
Portland has had their shot at winning games but they haven't be able to seal the deal in multiple occasions. They can find the net just not in the times that they really need to. With league leading goal scorer Christine Sinclair on their frontline, they have got to get those goals scored. There has been multiple times this season, including the game against Washington where they could have taken all three points but weren't able to score the finishing goal. If the Thorns want to get out of their winless streak they have got to start putting the game away and taking the three points.
This game will be streamed live on May 19th at 7:00pm EST on the go90 app or at nwslsoccer.com.