The Pride are on the front-end of a Saturday double-header at Orlando City Stadium with OCB this weekend against the Portland Thorns. In a pivotal late-season match, Orlando (10-6-6, 36 points) looks to continue its unbeaten streak and pick up three playoff-clinching points against second-place Portland.
Read below for in-depth analysis of the Pride’s next opponent.
The Thorns (13-5-4, 43 points) secured home-field advantage for the NWSL Semifinal round after beating the Boston Breakers, 1-0, last time out. Portland and the North Carolina Courage will enter the postseason having clinched the top two seeds. Portland has won four consecutive and owns a 5-1-0 record in its last six matches.
Like Orlando, Thorns FC is bolstered by experienced players all over the field. Christine Sinclair is perhaps the most seasoned Thorns player with over 300 combined international and NWSL appearances, but players such as Nadia Nadim, Allie Long and Meghan Klingenberg all have a wealth of elite-level experience.
Sinclair scored her team’s only goal in the recent 1-0 win over Boston and leads Portland with eight goals and 24 shots on target this season. Nadia Nadim and Hayley Raso have each netted five goals in 2017 for Thorns FC; U.S. international Lindsey Horan has four goals and two assists this season.
Portland Thorns midfielder and U.S. international Tobin Heath has yet to make an NWSL appearance this season. Heath has been rehabbing a back injury suffered while playing with the U.S. Women’s National Team back in March.
Heath’s quality on the ball and her ability to assist from deep areas has been missed this season as she continues to recover and regain match fitness. The midfielder recently returned to Thorns FC training, and featured in the second of two friendlies with New Zealand subbing on in the 72nd minute. Heath is taking it one day at a time - whether she will be fit enough to start Saturday against the Pride still remains to be seen.
Orlando has failed to beat Portland since entering the NWSL in 2016 - losing all three previous meetings each by a close margin. The stakes have never been higher for the Pride than this Saturday, though, as they welcome Thorns FC to Orlando City Stadium with a spot in the NWSL Playoffs on the line.