Match Preview: Portland Thorns vs Gotham FC
The Thorns square off against Gotham in the NWSL Playoffs semifinals!
Hop in, it’s playoffs time!
The playoffs quarter-finals are in the past and the international break is over. That only means that it is time for the Portland Thorns to put on their boots again and go back into action at Providence Park (kickoff set for 4 p.m. PT, broadcast on CBS Sports Network).
Given how the regular season finished it will be important for Portland to leave the past in the past and look ahead. The Rose City team enters this postseason having lost eight of its last 16 games in all competitions since June 11 and of course, that’s not good enough. They know it and will be ready for Sunday but so will Gotham.
Although Portland won the last game they played against each other this year at Providence Park at the beginning of October, Gotham will go against the Thorns with high spirits after having won their playoffs quarterfinal game against the North Carolina Courage. That 2-0 win marked their postseason first win in their history and they will want to go for another.
MVP and Coach of the Year nominees
It’s interesting to see how this Gotham doesn’t care who they go against, and that mentality is something they can thank their new coach Juan Carlos Amorós for. Under him, this team looks completely different from the one who competed in 2022, and since he got to the league he has led two different teams to the playoffs. It’s therefore no wonder he’s nominated for Coach of the Year after all he has done this season.
On the other hand, the Thorns have not one but two MVP nominees on its roster this year. One is the Queen of Assists, Sam Coffey. And what a year our midfielder has had! Not only for her nomination, but she has proved to be a worthy heir to Christine Sinclair’s captaincy, something that’s very hard to do.
And what can we say about Sophia Smith that hasn’t been said yet? The youngest player to score 30 goals in the NWSL and second youngest Golden Boot winner… her accolades are many but many more will come for sure. Hopefully, she will play another NWSL Championship final this year and win it back-to-back.
Will Coffey and Smith hold the key to the final?
Handling the pressure
It is true that Portland is used to playing in this kind of games where so much is at stake and that can give them an advantage over Gotham. But is also true that the NJ/NY team has nothing to fear or lose and everything to gain, and that can be a little dangerous for the opponent, knowing that the expectations are put on them. People in general expect Portland to win and it will be important to silence the rest of the world if necessary and just focus on the task they have on hand.
A good thing is that the Thorns have all their roster available for this important game, something that cannot be said about Gotham. As a matter of fact, Yazmeen Ryan, Kristie Mewis and Kelley O’Hara are all in questionable condition.
Possible lineup for the Thorns:
The fireworks kick off at 4 p.m. PT. Do not miss it.