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Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns: Preview, time, team news, how to watch

A tough test comes to town

NWSL: Washington Spirit at Portland Thorns FC Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Spirit’s final game at Segra Field this season will be against the league leading Portland Thorns. While Portland’s performances have placed them firmly at the top of the table — level on points with San Diego Wave but with a game in hand — the Spirit, for a multitude of reasons, have struggled to find their stride all season.

Portland have scored the most goals in the league (34) and allowed the second fewest (13), and golden boot leader Sophia Smith has scored in her last five NWSL starts, including a brace in three of her last four. Finding any semblance of a stride versus this opposition is a daunting task.

However a few things are working in the Spirit’s favor. Portland played Friday, as did Washington, but had a cross country flight and multiple time zones to contend with. Also, since the Spirit’s players on USWNT duty returned they have scored four goals in two matches. Most impressively has been the connection between Ashley Sanchez and Trinity Rodman, who appear to be back to their thrilling and unpredictable best.

Unfortunately, center back Emily Sonnett will miss the match with the foot injury that has kept her out of every match since returning from Mexico. Portland will be without teenage sensation Olivia Moultrie, who is in Costa Rica for the U-20 World Cup. While the Thorns are the deepest team in the league, Spirit coach Kris Ward will have to figure out a central defensive pairing and/or system to stabilize a back line that has recorded just three clean sheets this season.

Perhaps working in Washington’s favor is their fairly good record versus the Pacific Northwest this season. In the Challenge Cup and regular season they haven’t lost, beating OL Reign twice and drawing with both once. Maybe another matchup with a PNW opponent is just what’s needed to get a second notch in the win column (I know I’m reaching leave me alone).

Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm ET
Referee: Jeremy Scheer
Available TV: None
Available streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.) & Twitch (int’l)

Spirit team news: OUT - Tori Huster (SEI- left lower leg), Julia Roddar (knee), Emily Sonnett (foot); QUESTIONABLE - None; INTERNATIONAL DUTY - None

Thorns team news: OUT - Crystal Dunn (maternity leave), Emily Menges (right foot); QUESTIONABLE - None; INTERNATIONAL DUTY - Olivia Moultrie (USA U-20)

Previously: 1-1; An early season meeting in Portland in which Ashley Hatch only needed six minutes to equalize after Sophia Smith opened the scoring.