This NWSL Playoff Kansas City vs Portland Thorns most anticipated event. It’s the most important game of the season for both clubs. The Portland Thorns meet the Kansas City Current on Sunday, with the NWSL shield on the line.
In a crucial match against Kansas City and their former goalie Adrianna Franch, the Portland Thorns hope to reclaim sole ownership of first place in the NWSL standings.
When and How to Watch Kansas City vs Portland Thorns:
When: Tuesday, 2 p.m. PT Sunday, September 18
Where: Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas
TV: FOX 12 PLUS (KPDX)
Live Streaming: Paramount+
The game between Portland and Kansas City begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday (TV on Fox 12 Plus, streaming on Paramount+).
WHAT TO BEWARE OF Kansas City vs Portland Thorns:
Kansas City had gone 13 games unbeaten to ascend to the top of the National Women’s Soccer League before losing 4-0 in Chicago midweek – a result that narrowed the NWSL standings even more. The Current are 9-5-5 with 32 points in 19 games, while the Thorns are 8-3-7 with 31 points in 18 games. The top five clubs were separated by two points heading into the weekend.
Adrianna Franch, a former Thorns goalie, with a 1.35 goals-against average and four shutouts for KC. Lo’eau LaBonta, CeCe Kizer, and Kristen Hamilton are the current players with six goals.
This season, Kansas City is 4-1-4 at home. Portland is 4-1-4 on the road. The Thorns are healthy, with the exception of defender Emily Menges (foot)…. The Thorns are one goal away from tying the club record of 40 in a season. Their goal difference of plus-19 is definitely the greatest in the NWSL.
Three Points to Watch for Portland vs. Kansas City, according to the Oregonian/OregonLive:
1. UP SHIELDS Kansas City vs Portland Thorns
With a win in Kansas City on Sunday, the Thorns (8-3-7, 31 points, +19 goal differential) may recover first place in the NWSL shield race. The Current (9-5-5, 32 points, -2 goal differential) can solidify their lead with a win or hold it with a draw.
Portland has played one fewer game than KC, so a win gives the Thorns an even bigger advantage moving into their final run of games. After Sunday, Portland has games against Racing Louisville, the Chicago Red Stars, and Gotham FC where it can pick up points. The Current’s remaining games are against the Washington Spirit and Racing Louisville.
Surprisingly, the shield race isn’t simply between Portland and Kansas City. On points, San Diego is tied with Portland, Houston and Chicago are one point back, while the OL Reign are two points back. Nothing is certain in a crowded NWSL table, but a win Sunday will go a long way toward Portland’s hopes of finishing first.
2. MENGES EXIT Kansas City vs Portland Thorns
Emily Menges, a Thorns defender, will miss Sunday’s game due to injury. She’s been in and out of the Thorns team in recent weeks, but coach Rhian Wilkinson has ruled her out against the Current.
This increases the pressure on players like Natalia Kuikka and Tegan McGrady to step up and fill in, as well as Crystal Dunn if Wilkinson is sneaky with her newest squad addition. Dunn did play in an attacking position in her first game back, so Wilkinson could see the new mom contributing as a reserve there.
3. ON THE VERGE Kansas City vs Portland Thorns
Portland is about to set a season high in goals. The Thorns set a club record with 40 goals in a season in both 2018 and 2019. They have 39 goals on the season and have four games left, including Sunday, to break the record.
To all intents and purposes, the Thorns will almost certainly shatter the record on Sunday. It will be a watershed moment for a Portland side that has been prolific in scoring goals this season, but the only thing this club is going to worry about is winning and regaining the top spot in the NWSL.
The Kansas City Current (9-5-5, 32 points) host the Portland Thorns (8-3-7, 31 points) in a game that might determine the eventual Shield winners. Kansas City leads Portland by one point, but the Thorns have a game in hand this game.
The Current are coming off their first loss since May and their third game in a week, while the Thorns haven’t played since beating Orlando on the 9th to stop a brief losing slide.
The absence of Elizabeth Ball will be a significant problem for the Current in this match. The Current’s staple center-back is suspended for accumulating yellow cards, just in time for the team to face one of the most dangerous forwards in Sophie Smith.
Last Meeting: These teams met in their first regular-season game. After a difficult Challenge Cup group stage, the Current rested many of their players before meeting North Carolina in the semifinals four days later. The Thorns easily won 3-0 despite their inferior squad.
The current streak has ended – Kansas City’s thirteen-game unbeaten streak came to an end Wednesday with a 4-0 loss in Chicago. It was the Current’s first loss since May 25th. In an amazing run, the Current climbed from last to the first position by stringing together nine wins and four draws.
“I think any loss asks questions of oneself, and so to feel that sensation again clearly, maybe just puts things into perspective that we have to celebrate the good that we did achieve, but also understand that we still have work to do,” current head coach Matt Potter said after practice Friday. “So it’s those reminders sometimes, that it’s necessary to learn from a loss, to recover, and then to get ready to go again because that’s the nature of this league.” In that way, it’s an unforgiving league; it’s part of what we do. We must be bigger than any single game.”
Coach’s comments on the opposition for Kansas City vs Portland Thorns
When asked about Portland, current head coach Matt Potter responded, “They have an identity that’s clearly their own, they’ve been a perennial powerhouse in the league for years and that hasn’t altered whether they’ve had a coaching change or not.”
“There is no doubt about their experience within the organization,” Potter concluded. “When you have players like Becky Sauerbrunn and Christine Sinclair to guide you, you know they’re the greatest of the best.” Then you see the youthful ambition that truly achieves its potential, so there are threats everywhere. They have good quality throughout two-thirds of the field. They’re as good a squad as you’ll find in the league, but every team has its own strengths. Our role is to expose areas where we believe we can capitalize, and I’m sure they’re equally concerned about the KC Current.”
Availability Kansas City vs Portland Thorns
Current in KC
Williams, Lynn (SEI-right leg)
Weber, Mallory (SEI-right leg)
Mewis, Sam (SEI-right leg)
Ball, Elizabeth (suspension)
N/A INTERNATIONAL DUTY
Thorns of Portland
N/A INTERNATIONAL DUTY
WATCH OUT FOR Kansas City vs Portland Thorns
Kristen Hamilton of the Kansas City Current — The Current has three players with six goals each, but Hamilton is the one to watch in the early going. She has played the most minutes, only being replaced a handful of times but still running and giving it her all during stoppage time. If Kansas City requires a late goal, Hamilton is most likely to come through.
Thorns of Portland — Sophie Smith Smith has eleven goals and two assists to lead the Thorns. The 22-year-old attacker is lively and dangerous, and when he scores, Portland wins or draws. Smith recently played for the United States National Team against Nigeria at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. The United States triumphed 4-0, with Smith scoring two goals.