Thursday, July 18, 2024
World Elite Syndicate

NWSL Match Preview: Portland Thorns FC (4-1-4) at OL Reign (5-3-1)

Lumen Field | Seattle, Washington – Saturday, June 3 at 8:00 PM ET

Players to watch:

In OL Reign’s last league match, three different players attempted at least five shots – forwards Veronica LatskoMegan Rapinoe, and Elyse Bennett. It is the only time an NWSL team has done so this season and was the second time the Reign had three such players in a league match (also September 9 last season). The Reign are led in scoring by a quartet players that includes Latsko, but forwards Bethany Balcer and Jordyn Huitema as well as midfielder Jess Fishlock have all contributed three goals – though Latsko has done in it six games compared to nine for the other three.

Portland defender Reyna Reyes notched her first professional goal in Portland’s last league match, a 1-1 draw against the Wave. At 89:19, the goal was also the latest ever scored by a Thorns defender, though the team has had later goals scored by goalkeepers on two different occasions. In the regular season, the Thorns are led in scoring overall by attacker Crystal Dunn, who has scored a league-leading five goals.

Match facts: The first regular season edition of the Cascadia rivalry takes place on Saturday night as one of two of the first of four games across the evening. 3rd place OL Reign welcomes 2nd place Portland Thorns FC to Lumen Field, with the two clubs level on points (16) but separated by goal differential (POR +12, RGN +6). 

Over OL Reign’s last four home league games, the team has scored 12 goals while allowing seven. The 19 goals are the most combined goals in a span of four regular season home games in Reign history. Overall, the Reign have returned to a good vein of form with consecutive wins in all competitions, first defeating Angel City, 4-1, last weekend and then beating San Diego, 3-0, on the road in the Challenge Cup midweek. That, after losing two straight games against Gotham and North Carolina on May 14 and May 21.

Portland scored in the 90th minute at San Diego on Friday to earn a 1-1 draw. The Thorns have scored in 16 straight regular season matches on the road, one game shy of tying for the longest such streak in NWSL history, held by Orlando (17 straight from June 2019 to August 2021). Portland is now unbeaten in three straight games across all competitions after a sandwich of wins over Chicago (May 21) and Angel City in the Challenge Cup (May 31) were split by that draw with the Wave. 

The Reign and Thorns will be meeting for the 35th time in all NWSL competitions, breaking a tie with Washington vs. Gotham for the most matches in NWSL history. The 84 yellow cards handed out in games between the two clubs are 23 more than any other fixture in all NWSL competitions.

Noted (via Jen Cooper, The Keeper):

  • OL Reign Head Coach Laura Harvey will become first to coach 200 regular-season games this Saturday. She’s also the winningest coach in NWSL regular season (92-59-48 overall, 73-42-36 with the Reign). She is a 3-time NWSL Coach of the Year (2014, 2015, 2021) and has led the Reign to three NWSL Shields (2014, 2015, 2022) and four playoff appearances (2014, 2015, 2021, 2022), including two finals (2014, 2015).
  • If Reign defender Sofia Huerta starts, it will be her 50th start for the club. Next assist for Huerta will be the 30th of her regular-season career. Only Jess McDonald LOU (31) has recorded more assists.
  • Portland defender Kelly Hubly needs to play just 6 minutes to become the 10th Thorns FC player with 5,000 minutes for the club.
  • Next goal for Portland forward Sophia Smith moves her out of a tie with Lindsey Horan (currently on loan with Lyon) for 3rd most goals in Thorns regular season play. Both have 25.
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