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Seattle Reign v. Portland Thorns: Rivalry Week Preview

The Seattle Reign face the Portland Thorns twice this week. The first match is in Portland tomorrow and will air on Fox Sports Go. Get to know both teams and get pumped for #RivalryWeek.

MikeRussellFOTO

Tomorrow, Fox Sports will air the first NWSL match in its post-World Cup broadcast plan. That match, which kicks off at 7:00 p.m. PT and will stream on Fox Sports Go, happens to be between our beloved Seattle Reign and their neighbors to the south, the Portland Thorns.

At this time, the Reign and Thorns are the most heated rivals in the NWSL. That's not saying much, as this matchup doesn't yet have the flavor of a true Cascadia Cup throwdown. Could Wednesday's sold-out match at Providence Park be the tipping point in this relationship?

This match is an important one for both teams: With a win, Seattle could once again reclaim the top spot in the NWSL, while Portland is hoping the full return of its eight World Cup players will help turn around a team that has struggled the last few months—and put them back in playoff contention.

WORLD CUP STARS
Name, Position, Team (Country) NWSL Stats World Cup Stats
Hope Solo, GK, Seattle Reign (USA) 11 saves | 3.7 PG 15 saves | 2.1 PG
Golden Glove winner
Megan Rapinoe, M, Seattle Reign (USA) 3 goals | 2 assists 2 goals | 2 assists
Golden Ball nominee
Alex Morgan, F, Portland Thorns (USA) 0 goals | 0 assists 1 goal | 0 assists
Christine Sinclair, F, Portland Thorns (CAN) 1 goal | 0 assists 2 goals | 1 assist
Jodie Taylor, F, Portland Thorns (ENG) 0 goals | 0 assists 1 goal | 1 assist
Kayln Kyle, M, Portland Thorns (CAN) 0 goals | 0 assists 0 goals | 0 assists
Nadine Angerer, GK, Portland Thorns (GER) 10 saves | 3.3 PG 15 saves | 2.1 PG
Golden Glove nominee
Rhian Wilkinson, D, Portland Thorns (CAN) 0 goals | 0 assists 0 goals | 0 assists
Steph Catley, D, Portland Thorns (AUS) 0 goals | 0 assists 0 goals | 0 assists
Tobin Heath, M, Portland Thorns (USA) 0 goals | 0 assists 1 goal | 0 assists

After starting the season hot, the Thorns has struggled mightily without their eight World Cup stars, going 2-4-2 after losing their teammates to World Cup preparation. Midfielders Allie Long and Meleana Shim have tried to fill the gap with their combined eight goals and six assists. But, aside from Long and Shim, Portland has had a hard time finding the back of the net. A solid defensive line has kept them afloat during this stretch.

The Reign, on the other hand, were well prepared for the World Cup break and have gone 5-1-3 since Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo joined the USWNT. However, while they still sit in second, the Reign continue to struggle on the road and have lacked consistency over the last few months.

Hope Solo is still out, but Megan Rapinoe has returned to the Reign and could feature in Wednesday's match. Perhaps more importantly, Pinoe could play a big role in the Reign's home battle against the Thorns on Sunday, July 26 (limited tickets are still available). The creativity of Rapinoe could be a big boost for Seattle.

It's #RivalryWeek. We'll have a gamethread tomorrow and hope you'll watch and join the conversation. I feel a Kim Little brace coming on, but would be happiest with a win. Who scores doesn't matter.

In the meantime, to help you prepare, check out our graphic and get to know the players who held down the fort for both teams during the World Cup stretch.