The Portland Thorns return to action at Providence Park on Saturday against the new look Western NY Flash. The match starts at 4pm PST and will of course be streamed online via the NWSL Youtube Channel.
The two teams are coming off polar opposite performances during the NWSL's opening weekend. The Thorns throttled the lowly Boston Breakers 4-1 in a match that saw the Thorns control the game from start to finish. The Flash, on the other hand, were on the receiving end of a 5-1 beatdown from the Seattle Reign.
What To Watch: Portland
The special thing about this weekends match up for the Thorns is that they will be fully loaded (the one exception being Steph Caltey) with their compliment of NT stars. The interesting thing will be seeing how coach Paul Riley chooses to use them.
This very well could be the first and last week that we have all the national team stars in town before the World Cup. Against Boston Riley was conservative with the freshly travelled NT players, and the Canadians (Sincalir, Wilkinsen, and Kyle) only arrived in Portland today. So I think it is safe to say they will probably not start, that said, we very well could see them subbed in at some point depending on how the match goes.
The stars who returned last week: Nadine Angerer and Jodie Taylor, have been in town all week, so I would not be surprised to see them in the starting 11. Though, last week's lineup worked so well, I also wouldn't be surprised to see Riley stick with what worked.
What To Watch: Western NY
The flash are in their first couple of games together after completely blowing up the roster over the off-season. So the interesting thing with this team will be to see what - if any - changes coach Lines makes to his squad.
Coach Riley spoke about WNY after Tuesday's practice, saying that they are a young team, and most of them have never played in front of a crowd like they will see at Providence Park on Saturday. They could go two ways, be intimidated by the crowd, or fueled by it.
I feel like the Thorns are in a really good place right now, and Western NY still has a lot to figure out about their new personnel. Due to this, and the additional NT reinforcements the Thorns have this week, feel like they are going to be too much for the young WNY Flash to handle.
However, I don't think it will be quite the massacre that they had at the hands of the Reign last week. I am thinking a comfortable 3-0 or 3-1 win for the Thorns is a likely outcome.
See you all at PP on Saturday evening!