OL Reign travels to Portland this evening to play their first road match of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup. The match against the Portland Thorns kicks off at 7 PM PT at Providence Park and will air on the CBS Sports Network. International fans can stream live on Twitch.
This game won’t be available live on Paramount+ — you’ll need some kind of Sling/Hulu TV/YouTube TV or cable subscription to view — but you can stream it on the app about 24 hours afterward.
It’s an important game for both sides. The Thorns come into the match with a perfect 2-0-0 record and a win could guarantee them a spot in the Challenge Cup championship game. The Reign, on the other hand, have just one game under their belt — and a win against their rivals could put them in a great position for their final two matches.
The state of Oregon allows games to be played at 25% capacity, so while it won’t be as loud as a pre-pandemic Thorns game, the atmosphere is going to feel a lot more like a normal Cascadia rivalry match than any game last season. And the players are certainly up for it.
“I always seem to come back for a Portland game... it’s just in my blood. I cannot wait to hear the fans, hear the boos... try to silence them and get back into a real football environment,” said midfielder Jess Fishlock, who just re-joined the Reign after a loan in England. Similarly, Bethany Balcer said she’s out for “blood and revenge” at a virtual season ticket holder event last week. Welcome back, Cascadia derby day.
What to Watch
- Long balls in behind: The Thorns found a 1-0 win last week thanks to pinpoint long balls behind the Chicago Red Stars defense. The first one found Tyler Lussi, whose shot went off the crossbar. The second resulted in Morgan Weaver scoring the lone goal in the match. OL Reign did well to keep the Dash in front of them in their home opener, but they also held a pretty deep line. They’ll want to both be more aggressive against the Thorns while also making sure they don’t let any speedy Portland forwards sneak between the centerbacks.
- Duels, duels, duels: I probably say this every time against Portland, but you’ll have a tough time beating them if you don’t out-duel the Thorns. They’re good at winning second balls and are especially good in the air. The Reign are going to have to fight for a win.
- Use the width: Chicago had some good chances against the Thorns in the first half because they would overload one side using the width of the field and pull Portland’s defenders wide. The Reign found a lot of their success against Houston through wing play. Can it all come together for them on a wider field in Portland?
Reign: OUT: Kelcie Hedge (ACL), Sam Hiatt (head), Ally Watt (ACL-SEI); QUESTIONABLE: Allie Long (lower leg)
Portland: QUESTIONABLE: Emily Menges (right foot), Rocky Rodriguez (right foot)
17’ - I don’t like this.
46’ - What a mess!!! Thorns go up 2-0
How to Watch
Join the Discussion
This is your Reign vs. Thorns gamethread. We’ll post highlights throughout the match. Join the discussion in the comments or by following @rovalks on Twitter.