Wednesday, May 29, 2024
5-Hour Energy

NWSL Semifinals Preview: NJ/NY Gotham FC (8-7-7) at Portland Thorns FC (10-7-5)

Players to watch:

The Thorns were the only team to have two players nominated for the 2023 NWSL MVP award in midfielder Sam Coffey and forward Sophia Smith. Coffey led the Thorns in assists (8), passes attempted (997), tackles attempted (67), and interceptions (32), among other categories as she marshalled the Portland midfield. Meanwhile, Smith scored 11 goals (one penalty), including five goals from outside the box, en route to a Golden Boot. In addition, Smith’s five assists were bested only by Coffey’s eight.
 
In Gotham’s win over North Carolina, forward Lynn Williams delivered her third career assist in the NWSL playoffs, tying her for most in league history with Lauren Holiday, Jess McDonald, and Heather O’Reilly. Williams also has three playoff goals and joins McDonald as the only players with at least three assists and goals in playoff games. 

Match facts: Portland Thorns FC hosts NJ/NY Gotham FC in the first of the NWSL semifinals as playoff action resumes following the international break. Portland in the 2-seed is facing the 6-seed Gotham after a bye week, with Gotham beating North Carolina in the first round to advance. The winner of this matchup will then face the winner of San Diego and OL Reign later on in the evening.
 
Portland enters the postseason having lost eight of its last 16 games in all competitions (W6 D2) since June 11. From the start of the 2022 season through June 10 this season, the Thorns lost seven of their 42 matches played in that stretch in all competitions (W21 D14).
 
Gotham earned its first NWSL playoff win in club history with a 2-0 victory over North Carolina. The match against Portland will be Gotham’s fourth playoff game, all of which have been on the road. That is the longest streak of true road games for any club in NWSL playoff history.
 
Since the beginning of the 2018 season, Portland has lost just once to Gotham (W7 D6 L1) in all competitions. One of those draws came in the only non-regular season meeting between the teams when the Thorns beat Gotham in a penalty kick shootout, 6-5, in the 2021 Challenge Cup Final. 
 
Sunday will be the sixth home playoff game in Thorns team history, tying them with the Reign for most home playoff games in NWSL history. Portland has allowed at least one goal in all five of its previous home playoff games as all three of its playoff clean sheets have been in NWSL Championship games (two at neutral sites, one on the road).

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