This week’s game of the week sees the ever so popular Portland Thorns facing the Orlando Pride at home.
Thorn’s Starting XI: Adrianna Franch, Celeste Boureille, Emily Sonnett, Emily Menges, Meghan Klingenberg, Amandine Henry, Allie Long, Lindsey Horan, Nadia Nadim, Christine Sinclair (Captain), and Mallory Weber
Pride Starting Starting XI: Ashlyn Harris (Captain), Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy, Ali Krieger, Jamia Fields, Monica Hickmann Alves, Kristen Edmonds, Dani Weatherholt, Jasmyne Spencer, Chioma Ubogagu, and Camila Pereira
After a devastating loss in last year’s semifinals against the WNY Flash (now NC Courage), the Thorns are poised to end the season with both the Shield and Championship. Their last year’s no. 2 offense looks hungry and ready for another dominant season, with the team featuring the same brilliant core of players as last year. The Thorns did add Australia’s Ashleigh Sykes from the Westfield W-League’s Canberra United. 25 year-old striker Sykes scored 12 goals for her club and led her team to a Premier trophy as the regular-season winners, along with a Julian Dolan medal and the Golden Boot. Sykes will add on to the already dangerous attacking front of Canadian Christine Sinclair, Mallory Weber, and Nadia Nadim.
Tom Sermanni’s Pride bring a slew of brilliant players into the season, with breakout star Kristen Edmonds and newly-signed five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta. Orlando fans will have to wait to see Marta in the Pride’s home opener against the Spirit (April 22nd), as Marta waits for her p-1 Visa. Star Orlando forward Alex Morgan will not play in today’s game, as her 6-month stint with French club Lyon continues, and she works to increase her ball awareness and elevate her game. Goalie Ashlyn Harris will wear the captain’s armband this season.
What to expect:
Although the Orlando Pride features a formidable defense with Ali Krieger, the Thorns (even with Heath out) have an attacking front that will most likely overwhelm the Pride’s backline. With Sinclair known for her headers, Ashlyn Harris will have to be aware of through balls. Harris has a tendency to make risky plays inside the box, so the match up will be interesting to watch. With home-field advantage, and the largest fan base in the NWSL, the Thorns should leave this game with a win.
PREDICTION: 2-1 (Thorns)
Tobin Heath will not play for today’s home opener due to a back injury. Earlier this month Heath (back) and midfielder Lindsey Horan (hip) were ruled out of the USWNT’s friendlies against Russia. According to Thorns Head Coach Mark Parsons, Horan seems set to play in today’s match.
Katherine Reynolds (left groin) and Dagny Brynjarsdottir (back) were ruled questionable in Portland’s injury report.
Orlando Pride defender Mckenzie Berryhill is out with a season-ending injury.