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NWSL Challenge Cup Preview: Portland Thorns @ Angel City
After a much needed win at Providence Park for the 2023 Challenge Cup, the Thorns are heading to California to face Angel City at BMO Stadium.
The three points Portland obtained against San Diego kept their hopes of qualifying for the knockout round alive and now they sit second in Group B, after OL Reign. Six points out of four games is not ideal but it has helped them to be among the teams that have chances to qualify for the next round. Of course, they need to win against Angel City (Saturday, 7 p.m. PT, Paramount+) and then against their rivals in the last match of the group to secure their chance to get through.
Hannah Betfort is on fire
If there’s someone who has stepped up in the goalscoring department, it’s been is the Charleston native. Hannah Belfort has been in the club for three years now but she got a real shot at showing her skills last year under coach Rhian Wilkinson. This season she didn’t have the chance to play much but she has gained minutes in the Challenge Cup and has been giving good reasons to coach Mike Norris to keep putting her on the field.
Betfort has only played seven games this year, between the Cup and the regular season, but she’s scored three goals and recorded one assist total in only two matches. Her first career brace against San Diego made her case to be nominated as NWSL Player of the Week.
The forward’s form is great news for Portland who’s currently missing its top two goalscorers due to the World Cup.
Remembering who they are
After the last game in Providence Park, where the Thorns got an emphatic win, Meghan Klingenberg said that the score was no product of chance but they just “Remembered who they are.” And her words couldn’t be more fitting.
After three consecutive losses, fans started to worry. But we have seen last year that this team has a deep bench and is more than capable of obtaining a result without their starters. And that’s what they showed in their last game. Let’s hope they can obtain another win away from home.
Angel City will not be messing around since after a terrible start of the season, it has been hard for them to recover in the table. Therefore, they’re going ‘all in’ in the Challenge Cup. True, under their interim coach they have been able to obtain good results, and some players that were overlooked are now being used and they haven’t disappointed.
One of those players is Scarlett Camberos. She has contributed with four assists so far — two in the regular season and two in the Cup — three of them led to three of the last five goals her club has scored.
Portland has a little tradition with Angel City now. They tend to spoil their party in the dying minutes of the game. Let’s hope the Thorns can get a result in the 90 minutes but if not, a goal by Hannah Betfort in the last seconds of the game will always be welcome (or scored by any other Thorn, to be honest).
The match will kick off on Saturday July 29 at 7 p.m. PT and will be on Paramount+. Fans abroad can watch on watchnwslsoccer.com