The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) returns to action after a week off due to a FIFA international break. The Portland Thorns (7-4-4) and the Houston Dash (6-7-2) meet for the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime. Kickoff at Providence Park is scheduled for 2 pm ET, earlier than originally scheduled due to the unusual excessive heat forecast in the Pacific Northwest. With the move, the league hopes the earlier time will not put players and fans in danger with expected lower temperatures earlier in the day than the mid-afternoon heat.
Hoping the heat expected does not impact the game, here's what to look for in a matchup between two teams coming into the game with two unbeaten streaks.
The last time both of these teams met was on July 9th after a 90-minute weather delay halted the start of the game. The Dash took an early lead after a Janine Beckie goal. With minutes left to play into stoppage time, the Thorns were awarded a free kick after a foul near the Houston goal box. Lindsey Horan took the free kick, aiming right for the goal, which Jane Campbell was unable to reach to stop. Portland escaped with a draw and ruined Houston's celebration for the three points.
In that matchup in stoppage time, Carli Lloyd was ejected from the game after her challenge on Mallory Weber was deemed too reckless.
With eight meetings now, Portland holds a bit of the edge on the Dash with a 4-2-2 record.
Two Unbeaten Streaks Collide
The story for Saturday's matchup is the two unbeaten streaks of both clubs. Once a team hanging on at the bottom of the table, the Houston Dash have not lost since June 17 when they lost 4-2 to Orlando. Since then, they have enjoyed a 6-game unbeaten streak, sit at #6 in the NWSL standings with 20 points, and have won their last two roads games. In their last six games, the Dash have compiled a 4-0-2 record. Brazilian international Poliana leads the team with four goals. At this point, they are serious playoff contenders, inching closer to the top four. A win against the Thorns would certainly put them closer. Houston is four points away from the number four spot.
The Portland Thorns are on a 3-game unbeaten streak with their last matchup resulting in a 2-1 comeback victory against the Washington Spirit. They are the #3 team in the league with 25 points and hold a 6-1-1 record at home with their only loss to Sky Blue FC on June 17 in a thriller. Providence Park is a fortress to the Thorns, winning their last three home games, and they look to defend it again. Adrianna Franch has 60 saves on the season, and the Thorns defense led by Emily Sonnett and Emily Menges is stingy. Franch and the Thorns defense have only allowed one goal in three games.
OUT: Tobin Heath (D45 – back sprain), Savannah Jordan (D45 – left foot stress reaction), Meg Morris (D45 – left hip inflammation), Mana Shim (concussion)
OUT: Morgan Brian (right groin tendinitis), Kealia Ohai (SEI – left knee ACL tear), Lydia Williams (grade 1 right quadriceps strain)
PROBABLE: Caity Heap (right ankle sprain)