A battle of two teams near the top of the NWSL table is on tap for Wednesday night in San Diego. The Portland Thorns travel to face San Diego Wave FC in a game that features plenty of high-profile players and high stakes early in the 2022 regular season.
The Oregonian/OregonLive has Three Points to watch for Portland (2-1-3, 9 points) vs. San Diego (4-2-1, 13 points):
1. SHOOTING STARS
It doesn’t get much bigger in women’s soccer than Alex Morgan vs. Christine Sinclair. The two all-time greats would bring fanfare and intrigue regardless of their current form, but both come into Wednesday’s contests coming off two-goal games.
Sinclair secured a brace in a 3-0 win over Angel City FC on Friday. Morgan, meanwhile, scored both of her team’s goals in a 2-2 draw against the Kansas City Current.
If current form continues, Wednesday could be a night of fireworks sparked by both teams’ veteran stars.
2. JUST WIN, BABY
The Thorns beat San Diego in both of their matchups in the Challenge Cup. The first was a 1-0 win on the road in San Diego, and the other was a 3-2 win for the Thorns at home that had the makings of a potential second half collapse.
Given San Diego’s recent run of play, which has them sitting atop the NWSL table, it will take a complete 90-minute performance for the Thorns to make their record 3-0 against the Wave this season. Portland likely can’t afford to have a bad half, as it did in the second half of the second matchup these teams had.
Put as many shots on goal as they did against Angel City, and the Thorns should have no problem dispatching another expansion side in San Diego.
3. NATIONAL STAGE
For one of just a handful of times this season, the Thorns will be on a national broadcast. Portland vs. San Diego kicks off at 7 p.m. Wednesday on CBS Sports Network.
A national stage provides an opportunity for the Thorns to show their mettle to casual and hardcore fans alike, and for stars like Sophia Smith to assert themselves to a larger audience and potentially put themselves in the running for league-wide awards.
With added pressure comes added excitement, and although Portland is likely putting on blinders ahead of a matchup with higher exposure, it’s hard to fully ignore the bright lights. The Thorns have the kind of stars proven capable of embracing them, too.
— Ryan Clarke, firstname.lastname@example.org
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