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Match Preview: Portland Thorns vs Racing Louisville w/ Michael Shaw of Fleur-De-Lis-FC
We are joined by Michael Shaw to help preview the matchup and give us closer look at Racing Louisville.
The Portland Thorns are back home on Saturday night, as they take on racing Louisville (kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. PT, streaming on Paramount+). Michael Shaw of Fleur-de-lis FC gives us a preview for the match from a Racing Louisville perspective.
Stumptown Footy: What has impressed you about Racing this year?
Michael Shaw: The eye test says that they look like a better, more professional team. There was so little NWSL experience on the team last year, that sometimes the games got away from them. I don’t think there is as much of a risk of that happening this season. They will go into most matches thinking they have a shot at three points — except maybe for this one.
STF: How have they improved since last season?
MS: Experience and talent. It’s always the answer. Specifically, DeMelo and Howell should be better in year two. DeMelo had a great first season, so she won’t have to improve as much and should have to carry less of the burden. All the new players look the part. Kanu appears to be an NWSL-level center forward. Ary Borges is even better than advertised. Pikkujämsä stepped up in Howell’s absence and again when Howell shifted into Borges spot vs. Angel City. Once she settles in a center back I think she will be even better.
STF: What have the additions of Abby Erceg and Carson Pickett meant to the team?
MS: I have joked that I’m the only Louisville fan who wasn’t distraught to see Emily Fox go. Fox is a great player, but this team needed experience on the back line and that is what Erceg and Pickett provide. Pickett/Erceg/Pikkujämsä/Milliet is a definite back line upgrade. Additionally, Pickett creates more offensively than Fox does and Erceg is good in the air, so they will add some in attack as well.
STF: What matchup between Portland and Racing are you most paying attention to?
MS: I will go a little bit out there and say that I will be watching the Milliet/Weaver LW v RB battle. Milliet struggled against Thompson in the last match, and since she isn’t a natural right back, I wonder if teams are going to start to overload the attack more down the left side. If Milliet feels the need to cheat a little inside and help on Sophia Smith, Weaver could get loads of space.
STF: Match Prediction and Why?
MS: As a policy I no longer make scoreline predictions. Instead, I will say that Portland is almost impossible to keep a clean sheet against, so Louisville will have to stay within a goal into the 75th minute to have a shot at any points at the end of the match. Louisville was also one of the worst teams in the league last year at protecting a lead, and we saw that trend pop up again against Angel City last Saturday. If Louisville comes away with any points it will be the first time they have ever done so against Portland. I always say expect trends to continue until there is contradictory evidence, so I wouldn’t advise any Racing fans get their hopes up.
Stumptown Footy’s Prediction
Racing Louisville have started the year with three straight draws. They have one of the best young midfield cores in the league with Savannah DeMelo and Jaelin Howell. Their new and improved backline is going to make it difficult to score especially with Lund in goal.
In preseason, Portland won 1-0, but both teams were not playing full starting XIs. However, both teams played excellent defensively. Portland had the better chances and more possession, but Racing Louisville looked good on the counter.
This is going to be a tough game against a rapidly improving team that looks ready to take that big leap. One key difference in this game is Sophia Smith, expect her to go away from Erceg and Pickett and go after the right side of their backline. Katie Lund will keep them in the game with key saves.
Portland is coming off a disappointing draw against Houston Dash and will push even harder to get back to their winning ways.
Final Prediction: Portland 2 - Louisville 1
Goals: Sophia Smith (POR), Crystal Dunn (POR), Kanu (LOU)
Assists: Morgan Weaver, Hina Sugita, McDonald
Projecting Starting XI:
Weaver - Smith - Hina
Sinclair - Coffey - Dunn
Klingenberg - Sauerbrunn - Hubly - Kuikka
McDonald - Kanu - Davis/Wang
DeMelo - Howell - Borges
Pickett - Erceg -Pikkujämsä - Milliet
How to Watch
Portland Thorns vs Racing Louisville
Saturday, April 22 at 7:30PM PST
Join us for a pregame Twitter Space!, , and I will be joined by a few of our Racing Louisville colleagues on Twitter Space for a fun pregame show.
Who are honored to have Michael Shaw, Kaitlyn Whiteside (Butchertown Rundown Co-Host), and possibly more to join us for our first show!
For those unfamiliar, Twitter Space is similar to a live podcast.
It’ll be lots of fun! If you have questions, feel free to leave them below.
Start Time: 3:30pm PST
Where? Stumptown Footy Twitter
Be sure to give Michael Shaw some thanks in the comments! If you’d like to see more of his work, check out https://fleur-de-lis-fc.com/
Who are your players to watch for this game?