In this edition of Oppo Research, Hudson River Blue spoke with Taylor Vincent of The Equalizer to learn more about Portland Thorns, Gotham FC‘s opponent in the semifinals of the 2023 NWSL Playoffs this Sunday. Here is your Gotham FC vs Portland Thorns preview.
1. Frustration with inconsistency
Hudson River Blue: The Portland Thorns were one of the best teams in the league all year, but they won just two of their last five games (one of which was a 1-0 win over Gotham). Portland’s 5-1 loss to Angel City on Decision Day delivered the NWSL Shield to San Diego. What’s the vibe at Providence Park these days?
Taylor Vincent: Coming off of the loss to Angel City, the vibes were frustration about the consistency of play. The players spoke about feeling the pain, coming together and focusing on the upcoming semifinal. Like all semifinal teams, they’ll have players coming back from the FIFA break and trying to seamlessly fit back into the squad, who won’t have played a match in three weeks.
2. Commitment to a high-powered offense
HRB: Portland scored a league-leading 42 goals this season. What’s the been the key to the team’s strong offense?
TV: Honestly, the fact that they 100% commit to the attack. This unfortunately also means that they often find themselves out of shape on the defensive side which is one of the reasons why they have conceded the third most goals this regular season.
3. Morgan Weaver is a threat
HRB: USWNT forward Sophia Smith won the NWSL Golden Boot with 11 goals this season. Midfielder Samantha Coffey provided a NWSL-best eight assists. Who else should Gotham be worried about on Sunday?
TV: Morgan Weaver. She has seven goals and four assists for the Thorns this year and is an absolute workhorse in the wide areas for the Thorns sending in the third most crosses for the Portland-side. Otherwise, worry about Sam Coffey’s ability to find people in the right spaces, Coffey leads the NWSL in assists and the Thorns in crosses into the box.
4. The X-Factor: Sophia Smith and the battle in the midfield
HRB: What’s the X-factor that could decide Sunday’s match?
TV: The big one is Sophia Smith, we’ve seen time and time again that when she’s in the groove she’s a force to be reckoned with. Otherwise, the match will really come down to which team can successfully control the midfield.
5. Predicted Starting XI
HRB: Prediction time: Starting XI? Final score?
TV: For Portland either they are going to come out in the semi’s with a fire lit under their asses or the consistency problem that the Thorns have had throughout the season will be present once again. Score – 1-0 Portland or 2-1 Gotham (depending on which Portland shows up)