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NWSL Challenge Cup Preview: San Diego @ Portland
Is it time for Mike Norris to rest the veterans and give opportunity to the young players who need the minutes?
The Portland Thorns are in the midst of a three-match losing streak (in all competitions). Although making the NWSL Challenge Cup semi-finals is almost impossible, they have the opportunity to give minutes to players who absolutely need it. With that being said, it’s time for the young talent on the team to get more minutes the rest of the challenge cup.
They host the San Diego Wave at Providence Park on Friday (7:30pm, Paramount +). In the World Cup window, they have two more matches left in their Challenge Cup group against San Diego and at Angel City.
Projected Thorns Starting XI
Reyes - Hubly - Natu - McGrady
Moultrie - Provenzano - Porter
Beckman - Betfort - D’Aquila
Players to Watch
Tegan McGrady - This is another opportunity for Mike Norris to give her more minutes. The team needs to see what they have in McGrady. The three fullback rotation the rest of the season is not enough and having her as part of the that would be huge.
Natalie Beckman - Absolutely needs the minutes and is one of the only pure wingers left on the team. Was played out of position as a defender last year, but was a highly rated attacker out of college. Her dribbling and service will give a huge boost to the offense. If the 4-3-3 must be played, it’s time to give Beckman big minutes the next two CC games.
Gabby Provenzano - In the limited minutes she received as a 6 and it was a good cameo. Can she become the backup six if given the opportunity?
Both teams are struggling without their stars. Goals have been hard to come by for both sides, but San Diego has the better team right now.
The home field boost should help the Portland Thorns, even if the timing is awfully close to the USWNT game.