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.