National Women's Soccer League

Preview: Portland Thorns at Washington Spirit

The Portland Thorns will visit the Washington Spirit this Saturday, and both teams are looking to rebound this week after disappointing performances last week.

Last week the Dash upset the Thorns as Portland fell, 1-0, the first time Portland lost to Houston in franchise history. It was the Thorns’ second straight loss While Portland outshot the Dash, player of the week Bianca Henninger managed to hold Houston to a clean sheet. For their part, the Thorns weren’t that efficient with their shots and wasted their opportunities.

The Spirit fell, 3-2, to the Western New York Flash, who started an amateur goalkeeper. While Washington was able to get three points with a mediocre performance against Sky Blue, the second straight week of a struggling performance led to a loss against the Flash. Crystal Dunn, despite numerous offside calls, was by far the best player for the Spirit and her goal and Christine Nairn’s converted penalty kick wasn’t enough to overcome the Spirit’s defensive woes. The winning goal was a header from the Flash’s Jasmyne Spencer, who stands at 5-foot-1.

Both the Thorns and the Spirit have struggled defensively this season. The Spirit have allowed 12 goals in seven games, posting one clean sheet. The Spirit backline has conceded an average of just over 15 shots per game. Last week the Spirit backline conceded a season-low 10 shots. But Washington will need to improve that in order to stay second place in the standings.

Portland’s defensive struggles are mainly in the first half and in being consistent. Five of the Thorns’ seven goals allowed have come in the first half.  The lowest amount of shots in a game the Portland side has let up is four, but the team also allowed 17 shots the last time they faced Washington.

When the Thorns and Spirit last met earlier this May, Portland came back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 2-2 draw. The Thorns conceded two goals in the first 15 minutes, but Allie Long and Mana Shim’s goals earned the Portland side a point at home. Dunn and Francisca Ordega each scored for the Spirit, but Ordega will not be available this week.

The Spirit waived Caroline Miller this week, leaving the Washington side thin on forwards. Estefania Banini is out for the season due to a knee surgery and Tiffany Weimer hasn’t played a minute this season after coming back from ACL surgery. Francisca Ordega is away for the World Cup. Despite being originally listed as defender and now listed as midfielder, Dunn usually plays up top for the Spirit and has recorded five goals and two assists in seven games. Laura del Rio has recorded one assist and two shots on goal in five appearances.

Injury Report:

Out: WASH: Estefania Banini (right knee cartilage surgery)

Doubtful: POR: Courtney Niemiec (right medial ankle inflammation)

Probable: WASH: Tori Huster (left ankle sprain)


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