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Match Preview: Portland Thorns @ Chicago Red Stars - Must Win Game?
After coming off their worst performance on the 2023 season, Portland Thorns have a chance to get back on track against the team on the bottom of the NWSL table.
The Portland Thorns travel to SeatGeek stadium to face off against the Chicago Red Stars (Sunday at 3pm PST, Paramount +). This is the third straight road game for Portland before heading back home.
The 3-1 loss at Orlando could serve as a wakeup call, and playing Chicago comes at a perfect time. The Red Stars have lost their last two games (including Challenge Cup) by 4 and 5 goals.
After losing their first game to Houston, Portland responded by beating Chicago 4-0. This time, they’ll need to do it on the road.
Portland has a chance to earn 6 points from their three game road trip with a win.
With this being their last game of the season against Chicago, it is a must win game.
Projected Starting XIs
Weaver - Smith - Sugita
Dunn - Coffey - Moultrie (Sincy and her have been rotating every game)
Kling - Menges - Hubly - Natu
Chicago: 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3
St. Georges - Starke - Cook
Julia - Rocarro
Krueger - Davidson - Milazzo - Gilliland
Portland is going to come into this game with a sense of urgency after the tough loss at Orlando. The Red Stars are struggling and at the bottom of the table for a reason. Chicago’s defense has big names like Krueger, Davidson, and Naeher, but that’s not enough. The Thorns will have the majority of the possession and dominate the chances. Although both teams aren’t 100% healthy, the home team will be missing a ton of players that are crucial to their attack.
Sophia Smith and Morgan Weaver are going to have a lot of fun in this game. If Chicago tries to stop one of them, the other will have a huge game.
The substitutions that Portland has off the bench will also give them a huge advantage.
This is a must win game and they’ll get it done.
Final Score: 3-0
Goals: Sophia Smith, Crystal Dunn, Izzy D’Aquila
Assists: Morgan Weaver, Hina Sugita, Olivia Moultrie
Coach’s Corner: Mike Norris Preview
On the team bouncing back from last game…
Mike Norris: “I hope we bounce high. Yeah, listen, I think we walked away from that game and we knew not just the result, just performance wise wasn't, wasn't good enough. We went towards that and we need to bounce back quick and just get back to some basics. Yeah, being better like as simple as that, we need to bounce and produce a better thorns performance.”
On Chicago’s season, and what he sees from them…
Mike Norris: "… Yeah, I think that would be the two things that are sort of [at] the top of the list for us. We know, we’re going to have to be defensively solid because they are good on the ball - how they progress the ball and get into the attack.”
On coaching through a long road trip as a head coach…
Mike Norris: “It’s not unfamiliar to me, obviously coming from national team environment. 10 to 12 day camps was my life, in terms of work. So I think being on the road and then in this type of setting, I find pretty standard as a head coach. As a head coach, how is it different? Support network is probably the piece. Obviously, when you're on the road, being away from the family, away from my wife, but yeah, it's probably that part in terms of just being able to come home at night and just chat about the day. Get the disconnect easier as well when you're at home because I can come home with the kids and they're a good distraction. Well, on the road your mind probably sticks with it bit longer, positive or negative. I'm not sure what that looks like. But, yeah, that's probably the biggest difference from I’d say what is something that is familiar to me.”
What are your game predictions?