Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (3-6-1, 10 points) welcome the Portland Thorns (5-1-4, 19 points) to Exploria Stadium. This is the second and final time the teams will meet during the 2023 NWSL regular season.
Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride have struggled historically against the Thorns, with a record of 2-13-2 in 17 games (2-12-2 in league play and 0-1-0 in the playoffs). They’re 1-5-2 in Orlando against tonight’s opponent, all in regular-season matchups.
The most recent meeting between the two teams came on March 26 at Providence Park. Morgan Weaver and Sophia Smith opened the scoring inside 22 minutes. Hina Sugita made it three, and Michele Vasconcelos wrapped up the scoring as the Thorns won 4-0.
The teams met twice last season, with the first coming on Sept. 9, 2022 at Exploria Stadium. Yazmeen Ryan gave the visitors the lead and Sugita doubled the advantage as the Thorns won 2-0. That was the second meeting of the season after the teams met on June 19 in Portland. In Seb Hines’ second game as interim head coach, the Thorns smashed the Pride, 6-0.
The teams met earlier in the year during the 2021 season, playing on May 26 in Orlando. The Pride won for only the second time against Portland since the team’s inception. The Pride won 2-1 and Orlando’s goals came from Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux.
The second meeting that year came on July 18 in Portland, and the home team won again. Smith gave the hosts the lead and Marissa Everett doubled the advantage. Marisa Vigginao got one back in second-half stoppage time, but it wasn’t enough as the Thorns won, 2-1.
They met a third time on Aug. 14. The Pride took an early lead when Courtney Petersen found Jodie Taylor for the opening goal. But Simone Charley equalized and the teams drew 1-1.
The Pride and Thorns didn’t play in 2020 after the season was canceled due to the global pandemic and they weren’t in the same group for the NWSL Fall Series. As a result, the most recent meeting prior to 2021 was in 2019.
The teams opened the 2019 season against each other in Orlando, but the Thorns got the better of the clash. The game was decided on either side of halftime as Caitlin Foord scored just before the break and Tobin Heath scored four minutes after the restart, lifting their team to a 2-0 win. They met again in Orlando on May 11 and the visitors won again. Toni Pressley gave the Pride an early lead, but it was all Portland after that. Dagny Brynjarsdottir equalized, Andressinha gave Portland the lead, and Foord finished it off.
The final meeting between the two in 2019 was a goal fest in Portland and another Thorns win. Hayley Raso gave the visitors the lead just three minutes into the game and Midge Purce’s goal made it look like it would be a dominant performance by the hosts. But Marta got one back to make it 2-1. Christine Sinclair made it 3-1, followed by a Thorns own goal by Emily Menges. It looked like the Pride would get a rare point through Erin Greening’s 90th-minute goal, but Tyler Lussi scored in second-half injury time, dooming the Pride to another loss in Oregon.
The teams faced off three times in 2018, which featured the Pride’s lone win in Portland. The Thorns won the first game, 2-1 on April 15. But on May 12, goals by Morgan and Christine Nairn gave the Pride a 2-0 lead. Sinclair got one back for the hosts, but the Pride held on for their only result at Providence Park. The third meeting went back to usual, with the Thorns winning 2-0 through Lindsey Horan and Raso.
The teams started the 2017 season against each other in Portland with the Thorns winning 2-0. They met again in the penultimate game of the season in Orlando, ending in a scoreless draw. The most important game between the two teams was the Pride’s only playoff appearance. Unfortunately, it was all Portland, as they beat the Pride 4-1.
The first meeting of 2016 was the Pride’s first-ever game. Steph Catley gave the visitors a surprising lead, but Brynjarsdottir equalized and Horan won it for Portland. They met again on June 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Two second-half goals by Brynjarsdottir and Horan lifted the Thorns to another 2-1 win.
The Pride entered their most recent road trip on a four-game unbeaten run, including three wins. Unfortunately, a lack of finishing haunted them in their two most recent games. They dominated the Chicago Red Stars over 90 minutes, but couldn’t finish and the hosts stole a 1-0 result. Defensive mistakes and poor finishing cost the Pride in their subsequent game in Houston as they fell 2-0.
Tonight, the Pride return to Exploria Stadium against one of the best teams in the NWSL. The defending NWSL champions have only dropped points in five games this season and lost just once. The last time these two teams met, the Thorns dominated in a 4-0 result. The Pride have been outscored 12-0 in their last three meetings.
The Thorns have been one of the best teams in the league on both ends of the field. Defensively, they’re tied for fourth in the league in goals conceded, with 11, two behind the league leaders. However, it’s the Thorns’ attack that really shines.
Led by Sophia Smith and Christine Sinclair, the Thorns have scored a league-leading 25 goals this season — seven goals more than the second-best team in that category. They’ve netted four goals on three occasions and three goals twice. Their vaunted attack could cause problems for a Pride back line that had trouble playing the ball out of the back last weekend.
“Obviously, there was probably some first game nerves going into a hostile environment (last game against Portland), but you remember those moments,” Pride Head Coach Seb Hines said about tonight’s opponent. “We always look at when do we play them next and obviously that comes on Sunday. We’re excited to really show what we can do against a top team. Performances and results haven’t gone our way the last couple of games, but you’re playing against the champions of last year and against some of the best players in the world and that’s why you play. We’re all looking forward to it and, again, to prove a point, because although the result didn’t go our away against Portland, I thought it was a decent performance. We’ve come a long way from that game and there’s a bit of fire to go out there and change people’s opinions and make another statement in the league.”
The only Pride player listed as out for tonight’s game is Carrie Lawrence (knee). Amanda Allen (calf) is also on the availability list as questionable. Janine Beckie (knee), Emily Menges (excused absence), and Rocky Rodriguez (knee) are listed as out for Portland. Becky Sauerbrunn (foot) is questionable for the visitors.
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.
Defenders: Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, Haley McCutcheon.
Defensive Midfielders: Mikayla Cluff, Viviana Villacorta.
Midfielders: Adriana, Marta, Julie Doyle.
Forwards: Ally Watt.
Bench: Carly Nelson, Caitlin Cosme, Messiah Bright, Jordyn Listro, Kerry Abello, Brianna Martinez, Celia, Thais Reiss, Erika Tymrak.
Portland Thorns (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Bella Bixby.
Defenders: Meghan Klingenberg, Meaghan Nally, Kelli Hubly, Natalia Kuikka.
Defensive Midfielders: Sam Coffey, Crystal Dunn.
MIdfielders: Morgan Weaver, Christine Sinclair, Hina Sugita.
Forwards: Sophia Smith.
Bench: Shelby Hogan, Tegan McGrady, Reyna Reyes, Taylor Porter, Olivia Moultrie, Hannah Betfort, Adriana Leon, Izza D’Aquila, Michele Vasconcelos.
REF: Danielle Chesky.
AR1: Chris Canales.
AR2: Noah Kenyawani.
4TH: Laura Chambers Waliski.
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez.
AVAR: Tony Obas.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Streaming: NWSLsoccer.com (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!