Preview: Spirit aims to ride momentum of midweek victory and earn first win at Portland’s Providence Park

Washington Spirit  |   May 3, 2024
Preview: Spirit aims to ride momentum of midweek victory and earn first win at Portland’s Providence Park Featured Image

Portland, Ore. (05/03/2024) – The Washington Spirit will face Portland Thorns FC in both sides’ eighth match of the 2024 NWSL regular season. The match kicks off at 10 p.m. EDT at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon and will be broadcast nationally on ION. 


The Spirit 

The Spirit enters Saturday’s matchup in good form following a decisive 4-2 victory over the Chicago Red Stars, extending the Spirit’s club record of six consecutive matches with multiple goals. Forward Trinity Rodman got things going, logging her first goal of the season, and quickly followed with her third assist of the season, setting up an Ouleye Sarr goal. With the goal and assist, Rodman logged her 39th and 40th goal contributions (all NWSL competitions). At 21 years, 347 days old, Rodman became the youngest player to reach that milestone, surpassing Sophia Smith, who did so at 22 years, 297 days old last June. 


Midfielder Croix Bethune connected with Brittany Ratcliffe for the final two Spirit goals of the evening, marking Ratcliffe’s second and third of the season (a single season career high) and first-ever regular season brace. Bethune, similarly, had a historic night, becoming the first Spirit player ever to record three assists in one match. Additionally, she became the fifth player – and represents just the fifth such instance – in NWSL history to accomplish this feat.  


Traveling to Providence Park is always a precarious proposition for the Spirit as the club has yet to pick up a win at the venue. The last Spirit victory over the Thorns came in 2019, including a 0-3-2 record in the five most recent matches against Portland. Despite a 23-48 (-25) goal differential, the Spirit picked up one point against the Thorns in the most recent matchup between the two sides.  


The Spirit kept dynamic forward Mallory Swanson at bay for almost the entirety of Wednesday’s matchup and will look to do the same for Sophia Smith, who is arguably one of the most dangerous strikers in the world.  


The trip to Portland marks the second of three legs on the road for the Spirit, though, the road should offer little hesitation for the group. The Spirit has won its last two away matches, beating Houston, 3-1, on April 12 and the Red Stars, 4-2, on Wednesday. This is the first time the Spirit has won consecutive road games since October-November 2021 (four straight) and the first time the team has ever scored three or more goals in consecutive road games. 


Finally, the winning formula for the Spirit seems to be to score first and hold a lead. In the last 22 matches, the Spirit is unbeaten when leading at half-time (14-0-7), dating back to October 2017, and currently has five players with multiple goals – the most in the NWSL.  


Following the match, the Spirit will head to Kentucky to conclude its three-game road trip in a matchup with Racing Louisville FC. The match is slated for 8 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 10 and will be broadcast on Prime.  


The Opposition 

Portland Thorns FC couldn’t be hotter now, riding the momentum of a three-match win streak with its most recent victory coming Wednesday night against Bay FC. The 3-2 win came largely thanks to early contributions from rookie Payton Linnehan and Sophia Smith in the second and seventh minutes, respectively. 


Linnehan’s goal came in her first-ever professional start and marks her first goal contribution of any kind since being selected in the first round of the 2024 NWSL Draft. The hot starts are becoming a trend for the Thorns, something the Spirit should be very wary of after relinquishing multiple goals in the opening moments more than one match this season. The Thorns have scored twice in the opening seven minutes in four regular season matches this season, equaling the total for all other teams combined, with no other team doing so more than once. 


Bay FC leveled the match in the second half, but the heroics of Smith overcame any doubt. Her brace marked the 10th multi-goal regular season game of her career. Only Sam Kerr (14) and Megan Rapinoe (11) have more such games. Additionally, Smith has scored at least once against all 13 opponents she’s faced in her NWSL career.  


The Thorns have won three straight games after collecting just one point in the team’s first four matches this year. The Thorns are one of 21 teams to fail to win any of its first four matches of a season (D1, L3), but the only team to follow that with three consecutive wins. 


The Thorns’ hot streak will be challenged by a Spirit team that is winless in all 12 matches at Providence Park. This is the most home matches played by one team against another without ever losing. 


Next up, Portland engages in a rivalry matchup with Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, May 11 at 10 p.m. EDT.  



• The Washington Spirit owns a 3-14-8 regular season record against Portland Thorns FC. This marks the lowest winning percentage the Spirit has against a single club in the NWSL. Winless in 12 tries (0-7-5), the Spirit is searching for its first-ever victory at Providence Park.  

• With a start in Wednesday’s match, Andi Sullivan earned her 100th career NWSL regular season start, all coming with the Spirit. The former number one overall draft selection joins Spirit legend Tori Huster and teammates Aubrey Kingsbury and Ashley Hatch as the only players to hit 100 starts with the team.   

• In total, the Spirit has scored five goals in the last 15 minutes of the second half this season, more than any other team in the league.  

• Heather Stainbrook made her NWSL debut Wednesday, subbing in for Ouleye Sarr in the 87th minute. She becomes the first player in Utah Valley University history to appear in an NWSL match.   

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