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Match Preview: Portland Thorns @ Gotham FC - Time to Bounce Back
After two consecutive losses, Portland will travel to New Jersey to face Gotham, a team that has seen a huge improvement compared to last year.
Red Bull Arena will be the scenario when Gotham and the Thorns clash this Sunday at 2:30 PM Pacific time.
After losing by a narrow margin both against OL Reign in the Challenge Cup and Kansas City in the league, it’s time for Portland to bounce back. True, they will be without their national team stars — except for Natu Kuikka — but so will Gotham.
The home team has undergone significant development under coach Juan Carlos Amorós and is not the same Gotham we saw last season. What is more, they have installed themselves in a playoff position and it doesn’t seem they’re moving from there anytime soon.
The Thorns surpass Gotham in shots by 59.45%. That’s right — while Gotham has only managed to shoot 66 times in the entire season, Portland has done it 111 times. The problem is the conversion rate since the home team has a 10.70% and the visitors 15.50%, which translated means that Gotham has 15 goals so far this year and the Thorns 33.
As numbers show, they duplicate the amount of goals but — without Sophia Smith and Crystal Dunn, it has been hard for the team to find a way to put the ball in the back of the net. So the job is up for grabs. Who will step up and get Portland some goals in their absences?
If there’s something we can count on is Portland not lacking chances to score since three of our Thorns are the main creators of the league.
True, Gotham has some very good creators but their main player in this department, Kristie Mewis, won’t be available due to her national team duties.
If the Thorns can’t score in this game, they will need to rely on their defense to get at least a point in New Jersey. It’s interesting that in the clearances department, the top ten is full of Portland and Gotham players.
Kelli Hubly leads the league with 57 in 14 appearances, second is Kuikka with 36, and Emily Menges is third with 31 in nine appearances. Special mention to Meghan Klingenberg who’s no.10 with 18 clearances in 12 games.
And speaking of Hubly, she’s just one yellow card away from being suspended for one game, so hopefully she won’t get any.
Projected starting XIs
None of the teams have players on the Out or Questionable lists so that’s positive. Nobody wants to watch these teams playing with an even more decimated squad.
N. Kuikka - K. Hubly - E. Menges - R. Reyes
O. Moultrie - T. Porter - S. Coffey
I. D’Aquila - H. Betfort - M. Weaver
Gotham FC: 4-2-3-1
M. Freeman - E. Jean - A. Krieger - J. Nighswonger
N. Martin - A. Long
S.R. Guðmundsdóttir - M. Zerboni - Y. Ryan
It would be easy to shield in the fact that Portland is unbeaten in its last 12 meetings with Gotham in all competitions, cite the eight goals scored in only two games last season, and say the Thorns will get the three points. But this is a very different Gotham and we’re in a special part of the year where the teams are just starting to get used to the absence of their national team players.
Nonetheless, this squad has proved in the past that they can score goals. That, given the chance and the circumstances, there’s always someone who will step up to help the team to get points. Therefore, our score prediction is a 2-1 Thorns win.
Goals: Morgan Weaver and Izzy D’Aquila for the Thorns. Yazmeen Ryan for Gotham.
Assists: Olivia Moultrie and Sam Coffey for the Thorns. Nighswonger for Gotham.