Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars: 2016 NWSL Semifinalist square off for the first time in 2017

The Thorns will be taking on the Red Stars in Portland at Providence Park this Saturday. This is the Game of the Week and will be airing on Lifetime at 3:00 PM Central Time.

Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars: 2016 NWSL Semifinalist square off for the first time in 2017
Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars: 2016 NWSL Semifinalist square off for the first time in 2017

Both teams made it to the semifinals of the 2016 NWSL Championship, but both lost against their opponents.

This is the first time that the two teams face each other this season and the first time since the preseason. During the Portland Thorns preseason invitational, the Chicago Red Stars lost 1-0. Both teams were missing valuable players. The Thorns were missing Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan due to injury. While the Red Stars were missing Julie Ertz, Christen Press, and Alyssa Naeher due to Julie Ertz's wedding.

Amandine Henry against NC Courage/ Photo: Portland Thorn's twitter @ThornsFC
Amandine Henry against NC Courage/ Photo: Portland Thorn's twitter @ThornsFC

The Thorns will not see the return of, FIFA Player of the Year, Tobin Heath. She has been out with a back injury. The Thorns will also be missing Katherine Reynolds, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, and Mana Shim.

The Red Stars has listed Summer Green as ‘doubtful’ with a right Achilles strain.

In week one of the 2017 NWSL season, the Red Stars fell to the Houston Dash with a score of 2-0. While the Thorns beat Orlando Pride 2-0.  Then in week two, the Red Stars won 1-0 against FC Kansas City. On the other hand, the Thorns lost 1-0 against the North Carolina Courage. Therefore, both teams have 1-1-0 thus far.

Interestingly, in the Red Stars game against FC Kansas City, the winning goal was scored by Julie Ertz. Ertz had been placed out of the backline and into an attacking midfield position, allowing her to be in a position to score.

Julie Ertz celebrating her goal against FCKC/ Photo: Chicago Red Stars twitter @chicagoredstars
Julie Ertz celebrating her goal against FCKC/ Photo: Chicago Red Stars twitter @chicagoredstars

On Ertz, head coach Rory Dames said, “She could end up in the backline tomorrow, she could end up as a 6, she could end up as a 10.” Ertz had actually played as a 10 at Santa Clara University."

Portland Thorns head coach Mark Parsons said, “It’s two teams that know each other well, it’s two coaches that know each other well. There’s no doubt there’s gotta be a couple of surprises from each side...You gotta adapt quick and try and get as much control.” via ThornsFC.com interview.

Christine Sinclair celebrates after scoring against Red Stars/ Photo: Portland Thorn's twitter @ThornsFC
Christine Sinclair celebrates after scoring against Red Stars/ Photo: Portland Thorn's twitter @ThornsFC

If the Red Stars were to win against the Thorns tomorrow, it would only be for the second time ever.

Player to Watch: Christen Press

Last week was not the best game Christen Press has played. However, she had some good chances at goals. She has proved that she can be a very competent player. After the Red Stars win against FCKC she should be ready to net some goals. The desire to prove oneself seems to be a common occurrence in the NWSL. If she is played in a forward position again it will give her the opportunity to take down the Thorns defense.

Player to Watch: Amandine Henry

Amandine Henry had a few chances at goal last week. She was unmarked a few times by NC Courage players which left their defense open. The Thorn’s midfield did struggle a bit. Henry pulled back for a bit to help with defense. It will be interesting to see how she will affect the game against the Red Stars tomorrow. 

Keep up with the game live on VAVEL for updates and commentary on Saturday starting at 4:00 PM Eastern Time.

NWSL