The most interesting transaction for the Thorns might be one of a player who isn’t new, but could be returning on Friday evening. According to Portland Head Coach Rhian Wilkinson, U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Crystal Dunn will be on the bench and available for the Thorns against Orlando. Dunn, a member of the 2019 World Cup-winning team, has the potential to make her first appearance since giving birth to her first child, son Marcel, on May 20.
The Thorns have lost four straight matches across all competitions. The stretch started with two losses in the Women’s International Champions Cup to C.F. Monterrey and Chelsea FC Women. Those two were followed up by two consecutive losses in NWSL regular season play to the North Carolina Courage and the San Diego Wave. The Thorns have only scored two goals during that span. Prior to the four straight losses, the Thorns were on an 11-game unbeaten streak.
Forward Sophia Smith has scored 11 goals so far this regular season, which is tied for second-most across the entire league. During a five game span that went from June 8 through Aug. 5, Smith scored in five straight games and totaled eight goals during that run. Smith also just recently recorded a first half brace in a 4-0 victory for the United States Women’s National Team on Sept. 3.
The last matchup did not go the Pride’s way as they dropped a 6-0 to the Thorns at Providence Park back on June 19. The Thorns were backed by a brace from Smith and goals from Becky Sauerbrunn, Hina Sugita, Natalia Kuikka and Taylor Porter. In that match, Pride midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard made her first start of the season. The Pride used that match as a turning point, going seven-games unbeaten in the seven matches that followed.
Rasmussen University Fun Fact
Becky Sauerbrunn hit a major career benchmark when she appeared in the game against the San Diego Wave on August 27. With that appearance, she notched her 150th career NWSL appearance becoming the 14th player in league history to hit that mark. The 10-year NWSL veteran frequently dons the captain’s armband and is Portland’s leader from the back. In addition to club success, Sauerbrunn is a stalwart on the U.S. Women's National Team, with 207 international caps to her name.