Spirit travel to west coast to face first-place Thorns

Washington Spirit  |   August 16, 2019
Spirit travel to west coast to face first-place Thorns Featured Image

Boyds, MD. – Saturday, May 18, 2019: The Washington Spirit defeated the Portland Thorns 3-1 in a NWSL match at Maryland SoccerPlex.

Owen Krucoff

Boyds, Md. (8/16/2019)The Washington Spirit will make their second west coast trip of the season this weekend as they take on the league-leading Portland Thorns. As the race for the NWSL playoffs intensifies, the Spirit will go hunting for three points in one of the toughest environments the league has to offer.

The Opposition

The Thorns currently sit atop the NWSL standings with 30 points and an 8-2-6 record. They come into this match fresh off a 2-1 victory against the North Carolina Courage in front of a league-record crowd of 25,218 at Providence Park.

Forward Christine Sinclair leads the league’s highest-scoring offense with seven of the team’s 33 goals. She has reached that total in just 10 appearances this season due to representing Canada in the Women’s World Cup. 

Defender Meghan Klingenberg, who is tied for second in the NWSL with four assists, can be a force on both sides of the ball.

The Thorns’ roster also includes four members of the U.S. women’s national team’s World Cup squad. Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, defender Emily Sonnett and midfielders Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan have all been lineup regulars since returning from France.

Portland has a 4-1-2 record at Providence Park this year, including a current four-game home unbeaten run. They have yet to lose a home match to the Spirit in eight all-time meetings.

The Spirit

With a 6-6-3 record, the Spirit are looking to jumpstart the second half of its NWSL campaign and push back toward the playoff picture. 

With at least one game in hand over each of the top six clubs and a five-point gap separating them from fourth place, the Spirit can hang in contention with a good run of form.

Washington earned a win in this season’s first meeting with the Thorns, a 3-1 victory on May 18 at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Ashley Hatch put the Spirit up 1-0 in the 16th minute and an own goal doubled the lead early in the second half.

After the Thorns pulled one back, midfielder Jordan DiBiasi sealed the three points with an Olimpico goal that was voted NWSL Goal of the Week.

With a win on Saturday, the Spirit can clinch a season series victory over Portland for what would be the first time since 2015. Depending on other results around the league, Washington could also climb to as high as fifth in the NWSL standings.

Kickoff in Portland is set for 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Fans in the D.C. area can watch the match on Monumental Sports Network and NBC Sports Washington.

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