Portland vs San Diego Match Preview w/ Abraham Zepeda of Everything San Diego Sports
We are thankful to have Abe Zepeda of Everything San Diego Sports to help us preview this incredibly important match for both clubs.
The Portland Thorns head up to Snapdragon Stadium to face the San Diego Wave on Friday night (kickoff at 7pm, streaming Paramount +). In order to preview this game, I collaborated with an expert in all things San Diego sports, Abe Zepeda.
After dropping 2 straight matches to Orlando and Washington, San Diego has responded with 2 consecutive wins. What has been the difference for the Wave the past two weeks?
Abe Zepeda of Everything San Diego Sports:
Wave Head Coach Casey Stoney and multiple players on the team said that they set a goal to get clean sheets after their consecutive losses. They did that just that twice on the road in less than ideal weather conditions. How? They have simply been better on defense. The team gave the ball up less and were strong in the face of good attacking players. Center backs Kaleigh Riehl and Naomi Girma have been crucial to the Wave’s success helping to put them back in the win column.
Jaedyn Shaw and Olivia Moultrie represent two of the best young players in the NWSL, what are your thoughts on Shaw's play so far this season?
Had Jaedyn Shaw played a full season last year she may have beaten out her teammate, Naomi Girma, for rookie of the year. Shaw is already the Wave’s number two striker behind Alex Morgan and not counting penalties their goal total is very similar. That kind of skill on the attack out of an 18-year-old is a sight to see. She didn’t play great off the bench in San Diego’s last match against Houston Dash, but she comes out of the gate strong in most matches and has been especially good at home.
What matchup are you most looking forward to see?
Providence Park erupted when Crystal Dunn ended the Wave’s season with an amazing game winner to advance to the NWSL championship last year, so I look forward to seeing how San Diego handles her. Dunn had a great game against the Chicago Red Stars, creating opportunities and scoring herself. On the other side, San Diego’s midfield has been a lot different this season with the addition of Danielle Colaprico who has played exceptionally in the six role. It will be very interesting to see if her defensive presence is enough to contain Dunn.
Is Naomi Girma the Sophia Smith Stopper? Why do you think she has been so successful against the reigning league MVP?
So far, yes. They have been around each other for a long time dating back to training sessions at Stanford and must be very familiar with each other's game. On top of that the Wave have played the Thorns more than any other team in their existence thus far including the challenge cup and the playoff match they played. Girma knows tendencies and has been unintimidated in the face of Smith’s skills. Great talent elevates each other and we will likely see another great battle between the two again on Friday.
Score prediction and why?
2-0 San Diego Wave FC Win
The Wave only scored via an own goal in their last meeting, but their attack has been playing much better in the past two weeks. I predict Jaedyn Shaw scores the first goal during a counterattack, and at some point San Diego will draw a penalty in the box for an Alex Morgan penalty kick.
Questions by AZ
“We can go out there everyday and play soccer, but at the end of the day we have these values that we decided we wanted and we weren’t living up to them,” Sheridan said. “Sometimes you just have to go back to basics and clean some things up, and I’m really proud of the group for what they did and for how we’ve bounced back from two tough weeks.”
What were those values the team wanted to get back to?
“I think our biggest one is our work ethic and we want to go out there everytime and be the hardest working team out there. If we can walk off the field knowing that we worked harder than the other team, we know that we can be proud of that and that’s the biggest thing for us,” Sheridan said. “The first thing that we said last year when we walked in was, ‘we’re going to be the hardest working team,’ and we know that everytime we are, we win. That was the biggest thing we got back down to and Casey (Stoney), obviously is an incredible leader and she made sure that we came back to our roots to get there as a team.“
Stumptown Footy’s Preview and Prediction
Both teams have rebounded from subpar form. However, they have not been challenged in recent weeks and still are not playing near their best football.
San Diego has played very direct against Portland in previous games. This does not allow either team to get into a rhythm and creates a defensive matchup most of the time. They have a stellar backline which happens to be anchored by the best goalkeeper in NWSL, Kailen Sheridan.
Naomi Girma will be tasked with defending Sophia Smith, something she has been able to do very successfully. Unfortunately for San Diego, Smith has more help this year than previous years. She has improved her passing immensely this season, evidenced by her league leading five assists. Dunn is the leading scorer for Portland and has been the recipient of many passes from the reigning MVP. Olivia Moultrie and Sam Coffey complete the midfield trio and could help Portland dominate the possession and chances. Those three will determine whether or not Portland comes home with a result.
Portland will have three games in eight days, so expect head coach Mike Norris to play players in shorter minutes.
Portland Expected Starting XI:
Weaver - Smith - Sugita
Moultrie - Coffey - Dunn
Klingenberg - Menges - Hubly - Natu
San Diego Expected Starting XI:
Jakobsson - Shaw - Hill
Colaprico - Enge
McNabb - Girma - Riehl - Westphal
Coffey vs Colaprico - who is going to control this game?
Players to Watch:
Jaedyn Shaw - One of the best young players in the league. She has the perfect skillset and brilliance to frustrate Portland’s backline.
Olivia Moultrie - She is playing the best soccer of her career and is going to make a difference in this game.
Final Prediction: 1-1
Goals: Shaw, Dunn
Assists: Jakobsson, Moultrie
What are your predictions for the game? Where will you be watching the game?