PORTLAND, Or. (August 29, 2015) — The Washington Spirit (8-5-5, 29 points) wrap up their three game road series in Portland against Portland Thorns FC (6-8-4, 22 points) Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. The Spirit clinched a playoff berth on Thursday with a draw against FC Kansas City. Now the Spirit have two games left to try to earn a home playoff match.
The Spirit’s draw on Thursday ensured the Thorns were eliminated from playoff contention. There is no doubt both Portland fans and players will be motivated to end the season on a positive note after missing out on the post season for the first time in club history.
The Thorns will be without forward Christine Sinclair on Sunday night as she suffered a left ankle sprain in Portland’s 1-0 loss against Sky Blue FC last weekend. The Thorns will likely look to one of other myriad strikers on the roster including Alex Morgan, Jodie Taylor, and Lianne Sanderson. Notably all three players were absent the last time the two teams faced off at the end of May when the Spirit secured three points in a 2-1 win at the Maryland Soccerplex. The two sides also played earlier that month as well, but during that encounter at Providence Park the Thorns executed a phenomenal comeback after going down two goals early in the first half to finish the game with a 2-2 draw.
The Spirit are hoping that Sunday’s appearance at Providence Park will be the first of two as the final will also be held in Portland. The Spirit have two games remaining to pull ahead of FC Kansas City and the Chicago Red Stars to claim 2nd place and earn home field advantage for the semifinals.
Unsurprisingly, the player to watch for the Spirit will be forward Crystal Dunn. Dunn has scored twice in two games against the Thorns. Her intense pressure on the Thorns backline has provided her several opportunities on goal and she will be looking for a similar performance tomorrow. Christine Nairn will also be a player to keep an eye on. Though the midfielder hasn’t found the back of the net lately, her long range strikes could prove to be lethal against a Thorns defense that likes to play high.
The Spirit return to the Maryland Soccerplex for their final game of the regular season to face 2015 NWSL Shield winnners, Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, September 5th at 7 p.m. EST.