Match Preview: Portland Thorns vs Gotham FC
Time to bounce back - the stakes are high.
With only two games left, Portland squares off against Gotham at Providence Park on Saturday night!
After the Thorns lost to San Diego in their last game, the destiny of the Shield is out of Portland’s hands. They will need all the points they can gather, and for the Wave to drop points.
In their previous match against Gotham back in July, they lost 1-2. In that game, Sophia Smith was unavailable for Portland, and she may not available for this match either (listed as questionable in the availability report). Nonetheless, the Thorns’ attack in a Sophia-less team wasn’t all that figured out back in July. Nowadays things are different, though. Portland has found a way to score without her in the team —although their attack was lukewarm against San Diego and therefore, they lacked bite.
The hosts will have to be pretty careful in defense and more so now that Gotham has a new weapon in the form of the Spanish world champion Esther González, who scored a brace in her first start since she got into the team, which was pretty recently.
If Gotham would beat the Thorns in Providence Park, this would be the first time they won at home and away against Portland in the same season. And if Gotham beats Portland at home, it would be the second time in their history since 2013 that a team beats them in their regular season home finale.
Lots of shots, no goals
It is a funny coincidence that both clubs will come to this match after a 0-2 loss at home. Another interesting thing is the amount of shots Gotham had in their loss to Houston: 23. That’s the most a team had ever attempted in an NWSL match while also getting shutout, according to Opta.
In the case of Portland, they had five shots on target in their last game and, that was their 17th match when they registered at least five shots on goal. What is more, no other team in the league has more than 11 such games this season, according to Opta.
Which team will be able to make those shots count in this upcoming match?
What to expect
So, what can we expect from this game? It’s definitely going to be electric. Gotham has evolved a lot this year under coach Juan Carlos Amorós and they are going to bring it on Saturday. They have enough good players to give Portland a run for their money.
In the case of the hosts, they didn’t take the loss against the Wave so well. For each one of the Thorns, losing is something personal. Emily Menges put it pretty well when she said “[The] expectation of ourselves is to win. We’re not a losing team, so we tend to take it quite hard. Some would call us dramatic. It does help us kind of bounce back in a positive way.”
So the expectation is for them to turn things their way and more so in their closing season finale at home.
Possible starting XI
It is true that Rocky didn’t have the best of games against the Wave, but let’s blame jetlag and her being tired after playing with her national team. That said, we need her presence in the midfield for this upcoming game because it’s going to be a tough one.
About Olivia Moultrie replacing Hina Sugita: it’s the logical thing to do after all Moultrie did against San Diego in the 30 minutes she got.