Preview: Washington Spirit clashes with Portland Thorns FC in Highly Anticipated Friday Night Match

Washington Spirit  |   June 22, 2023
Preview: Washington Spirit clashes with Portland Thorns FC in Highly Anticipated Friday Night Match Featured Image

Portland, Ore. (06/22/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face Portland Thorns FC on Friday evening in both sides’ 13th regular season match of 2023. The match kicks off at 10:30 p.m. EDT at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon and will broadcast nationally on Paramount+ for fans across the United States. International viewers can stream the match on 


The Spirit 

The Spirit enters the match with a surge of energy following a record-setting 3-2 comeback victory over the Kansas City Current on Sunday night. After conceding the fastest goal in NWSL history only 23 seconds into the match, the Spirit went down 0-2 after surrendering another goal nearly 20 minutes later off a penalty kick netted by Debinha. 


Ashley Sanchez cut the deficit in half just before halftime with a goal from outside the box – her 10th career regular season goal, good for 10th all-time in Spirit history. In the second half, only five minutes apart, the Spirit scored the game-tying and game-winning goals from Paige Metayer and Tara McKeown, respectively. All three of Metayer’s goals have come off of corners, the most in the NWSL, while McKeown has now scored in back-to-back games (all competitions) for the second time in her career. McKeown was also recognized by the NWSL as the Bud Light Player of the Week for her key defensive efforts and game-winning goal. 


The come-from-behind victory marked the first time in club history the Spirit has come back and won after trailing by multiple goals. In the previous 56 occurrences, the Spirit was 0-53-3. 


In the last meeting against Portland, the Spirit suffered a heart-breaking defeat. Largely a defensive battle, the Spirit was awarded the opening goal of the game in the 76th minute thanks to a Portland own goal. However, Portland answered in the 84th and again in the second minute of stoppage time to leave the Spirit empty-handed. 


In Sunday’s match, midfielder Andi Sullivan made her 100th career start (all competitions) for the Spirit and became only the fourth player in club history to reach 7,500 career minutes in the regular season. Additionally, Head Coach Mark Parsons is set to coach his 183rd NWSL regular season match on Friday, the second-most in league history – OL Reign’s Laura Harvey has coached the most. 


Notably, the Spirit leads the NWSL with 146 fouls conceded this season which comes in contrast to Thorns FC’s league-low 87 fouls conceded. The Spirit also leads the league with 282 clearances, 85 more than Portland. Finally, thanks to Sanchez’s goal against the Current, the Spirit has scored six goals from outside the box (all competitions), the most in the NWSL. The Spirit has already doubled its total number of goals from outside the box from last season (3). 


Following Friday’s match, the Spirit will return home, defending Audi Field on Saturday, July 1 at 7 p.m. EDT against the Orlando Pride. Tickets can be purchased here.   


The Opposition 

Portland picked up a crucial three points last weekend in a 3-2 victory against the Chicago Red Stars after a puzzling 1-3 defeat to the Orlando Pride a week earlier. In the match, Thorns FC racked up 17 shots in the first half of play. Thorns FC superstar forward Sophia Smith opened up the scoring in the 43rd, her third straight game with a goal. This is Smith’s third separate streak of that length since the beginning of last season – no other NWSL player has recorded more than one such streak in that time. 


Hina Sugita and Christine Sinclair also added goals in the game, including Sinclair’s 62nd career score (third in NWSL history). The goals extended Thorns FC’s active road-scoring record to 19 straight road matches. 


This Portland Thorns FC team is among the greatest scoring threats in recent NWSL history. Portland’s 29 goals are ten greater than the next-closest team (OL Reign – 19) while its 241 shots are 72 greater than second-place Racing Louisville FC (169). For context, the 72-shot gap between Thorns FC and Louisville equates to over 62% of the total shots of the 12th-ranked Chicago Red Stars (115 shots). Thorns FC has also assisted on 23 of its 29 goals (79%), the best assist-to-goal ratio in the NWSL this season. 


Portland has five players with three or more goals this season (Smith – 7, Dunn – 5, Sinclair – 3, Weaver – 3, Sugita – 3), more than any other team in the league. It is also the only team in the NWSL to score in all of its regular season matches this year and leads the league with 16 first-half goals on 12 matches played.  


Providence Park, home of Thorns FC, is also one of the most dangerous venues in the NWSL. Dating back to last season, Portland is unbeaten in its last nine home games in all competitions (W7 D2), outscoring opponents, 25 – 7, in that span. The longest home unbeaten streak in team history (all competitions) is a streak of ten games spanning the 2017 and 2018 seasons. 


Earlier this week, Sophia Smith and Crystal Dunn received call-ups to the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) to represent the United States in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer. 


Next up, Thorns FC has a quick turnaround, playing Wednesday night in a Challenge Cup match against OL Reign at 10:30 p.m. EDT. 



  • The Spirit owns a 3-13-8 all-time record versus Portland Thorns FC. It is the worst winning percentage (12.5%) the Spirit has against any team in the history of the club. Thorns FC is unbeaten all-time at home against the Spirit (W7, D5, including a forfeit win). That is the most home games without a loss in a single fixture in NWSL history (including playoffs) with the next most being eight by FC Kansas City against then-named Seattle Reign FC.
  • The Spirit had four players called up to the USWNT to compete in this Summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup: goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury, forward Trinity Rodman, midfielder Ashley Sanchez, and midfielder Andi Sullivan. It is all four players’ first World Cup appearance.
  • Former Spirit players reunite with team:
    • Portland Thorns FC defender Crystal Dunn reunites with the Spirit and head coach Mark Parsons after playing for the Spirit from 2014-16. She appeared in 54 games for the Spirit and is tied for the most assists (11) as well as the third most goals (17) in club history.
    • Portland Thorns FC defender Tegan McGrady also reunites with the Spirit after making 19 regular season appearances with the club. She was a notable feature on the Spirit’s 2021 NWSL Championship team. 
  • Former college teammates meet again: 
    • Spirit defender Amber Brooks played with Thorns FC defenders Crystal Dunn (2010-12) and Meghan Klingenberg (2009-10) at North Carolina.
    • Spirit midfielder Bayley Feist played with Thorns FC forward Hannah Betfort at Wake Forest (2017-18). 
    • Spirit defender Gabrielle Carle played with Thorns FC defender Natalia Kuikka at Florida State (2017-18).
    • Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan (2015-17) and forward Civana Kuhlmann (2017-18) played with Thorns FC defender Tegan McGrady at Stanford. Kuhlmann also played with Thorns FC forward Sophia Smith (2018-19).
    • Spirit midfielder Riley Tanner played with Thorns FC defender Reyna Reyes at Alabama (2021-22). 
    • Spirit midfielder Marissa Sheva played with Thorns FC midfielder Raquel Rodriguez at Penn State (2015).
    • Spirit forward Ashley Hatch played with Thorns FC forward Michele Vasconcelos at BYU (2013-16).  
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