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Match Preview: Seattle Reign vs. Portland Thorns

It's another Cascadia derby. The Reign are desperate for points.

Last Updated
5 min read
Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s any game Seattle Reign players should get up for, it’s a derby. The Reign will be looking to get some revenge for an earlier loss as they host their Cascadia rivals on Sunday, June 16, at 1 PM PT. The second matchup this year between the Reign and the Portland Thorns will air on CBS.

"I think this rivalry hasn't been held in the levels that it should have been, both internally and externally," Reign head coach Laura Harvey said, noting her and the Reign's history against Portland dating back to the league's first year. "I think it's the biggest rivalry in women's football."

The two teams sit in much different places right now. After a rough start to the season, the Thorns have found their rhythm and sat in fourth place heading into the weekend. Their rivals to the north continue to struggle defensively and are in 13th.

There is some good news for the Reign. While the full availability report won't come out until Saturday evening, Harvey noted that everyone should be available for the match. Both Quinn and Claudia Dickey were in full training, and some of the scares from last week's match in Kansas City that caused players to leave the game early were not big knocks.

Recent Results

After going up twice in the first half, the Reign fell 5-2 on the road against the Kansas City Current last Sunday. The Portland Thorns needed a penalty kick to earn a 1-0 home win against the North Carolina Courage. Sophia Smith picked up a second yellow card from the bench in second-half stoppage time.


This is the second matchup between the two teams in 2024. The Reign are 15-15-9 against Portland, including an 8-5-5 home record.

  • The Thorns beat the Reign 4-0 in Portland a month ago. The match was fairly even until a penalty kick in the 80th minute.
  • This marks the 40th meeting between the Reign and Thorns in all competitions, a league record.

Quick Stats

  • The Portland Thorns (7-4-1) have scored 25 goals and conceded 16.
  • Seattle Reign (2-9-1) has scored 13 goals and conceded 25.
  • The Reign are 2-2-1 at home this season. Portland is 3-3-0 on the road.

What to Watch

Portland without Sophia Smith

The Thorns' six-game winning streak was broken three weeks ago against the Orlando Pride. They were without Smith that match, and thanks to a hilarious time-wasting second yellow card last week, they'll be asked to get a result again without her this weekend. The forward currently leads the NWSL with nine goals – and six of those have been scored on the road. Smith also has six assists, second most in the league. She's responsible for 15 of Portland's 25 goals.

The Thorns have other offensive weapons, but they won't have Smith's speed and skill. Instead, they will have to rely on someone who really, really likes to score against the Reign: Christine Sinclair. She only has two goals this season, but Sinclair tends to find her most lethal performances against Seattle. She scored last year in the Reign's 2-0 doubleheader loss to Portland.

This is what Harvey said ahead of the Reign's first match-up against Portland when asked about containing Smith.

"I think being pragmatic on the ball, make sure we keep it in the moments that we need to, defensively - not give them spaces. I think Sinc (Sinclair) has been very good for them in the 9 and honestly sets the [Sophia Smith's] of the world to find spaces because Sinc is going to come in spaces, as defenders, you don't really want to come into, so I think solving that early is going to be really important."

Regardless of whether she's starting or coming off the bench, Sinclair will look to set up players like Hina Sugita (1 goal), Janine Beckie (3 goals), and rookie Payton Linnehan (2 goals).

Without Smith, however, the Reign could find some momentum if they set the tone early in the match (we might sound like a broken record about this by now). The Thorns are winless (0-3-1) when losing at halftime. The Reign have only led twice this year at halftime, a factor contributing to their winless streak.

Handle the transition moments

The Reign are again facing a dangerous team in transition, albeit without their most dangerous transitional player. The Thorns like to press high and force turnovers, and they are lethal when they do. Portland has a league-leading six goals from high turnovers this season, compared to two for the Reign and the Current. They also lead the league in progressive passes.

Remember the goals that the Reign gave up last week against the Current? They look rather similar to the goals they conceded against Portland a month ago. The first goal was a long ball that went over the top, and the Reign were unable to stay with their marks in the box. We'll ignore the penalty call, but those final two goals also come in similar transition moments.

Don't be fooled into thinking the Thorns are just a transitional side. Portland likes to have possession. The Thorns have completed the second-most passes in the league, behind the Courage, and have the most passes into the final third. They use this possession to pull teams out of shape – and then look to go vertical to spark an attack. They don't use their width in the same way as the Reign either. According to FotMob, Portland has the fewest crosses in the league. Instead, they look for cutback passes or through balls in the box (or, when she's in the game, for Smith to create a moment of magic on the ball).

When asked how she thinks she can help exploit her new rivals, forward Emeri Adames noted that they can be vulnerable themselves behind. "Obviously, they're a very good team. I'm looking forward to getting in behind more. I hope that we can exploit them that way, and I think we'll be able to do that."

It's a rivalry match

At the end of the day, sometimes tactics fail in a rivalry match. Instead, the team that wins its duels, gets its tackles right, and is first to second balls will come out on top.

The Reign didn't win those duels as the last match against Portland progressed, and they were punished for it late in the game. They better all be up for it on Sunday, when they are desperate for points and want to put on an entertaining performance in front of their home fans.

"[Training] was definitely intense this week in a good way," Adames said. "Everybody's fighting on the field during practice. You can feel the intensity showing through practice and the competitiveness – we're all competing. Everybody's really excited for this game."

Injury / Availability Report

Seattle Reign

QUESTIONABLE: Claudia Dickey (knee)

Portland Thorns

OUT: Belly Bixby (maternity leave), Gabby Provenzano (SEI - ankle), Morgan Weaver (D45 - knee), Isabella Obaze (lower leg), Sam Coffey (ankle), Olivia Moultrie (knee), Sophia Smith (suspension)

How to Watch

Seattle Reign host the Portland Thorns on Sunday, June 16, at 1 PM PT. The match will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+.

Note: The Mariners are also at home and expecting a sellout crowd, with their game starting at 1:10 PM PT on Sunday. Reign fans should plan to arrive early.