NWSL Semifinals: Thorns will need to find new level in Cascadia rematch

The NWSL playoffs open Saturday when the defending champion Portland Thorns host the Seattle Reign.

The Thorns lost their first two meetings to Seattle, but a 3-1 win in the season finale before a sell-out crowd at Providence Park moved them into second place and gave them the home game for the semifinals.

Saturday's meeting will be the 20th between the Cascadia teams, but their first meeting in the playoffs.

2018 meetings:
May 5: Portland-Seattle 2-3
June 30: Seattle-Portland 1-0
Sept. 7: Portland-Seattle 3-1



PORTLAND. The Thorns finally have all their key players healthy, and that has made them awfully dangerous. Perhaps the most important addition has been center forward Caitlin Foord.

Last 10 games: 7-2-1.

The Australian, who was injured shortly after the Thorns acquired her NWSL rights from Seattle in January, has yet to score in six games but she has given more space for the big three behind her -- Christine Sinclair (9 goals, 6 assists), Lindsey Horan (13 goals, 2 assists) and Tobin Heath (9 goals, 6 assists).

Portland Thorns probable XI:
Goalkeepers
NO. PLAYER, AGE (COUNTRY, COLLEGE)
24 Adrianna Franch, 27 (USA, Oklahoma State Univ.)
Defenders
NO. PLAYER, AGE (COUNTRY, COLLEGE)
15 Ellie Carpenter, 18 (Australia)
25 Meghan Klingenberg, 30 (USA, Univ. of North Carolina)
4 Emily Menges, 24 (USA, Georgetown Univ.)
16 Emily Sonnett, 24 (USA, Univ. of Virginia)
Midfielders
NO. PLAYER, AGE (COUNTRY, COLLEGE)
30 Celeste Boureille, 23 (USA, Univ. of California)
10 Lindsey Horan, 24 (USA)
23 Midge Purce, 22 (USA, Harvard Univ.)
12 Christine Sinclair, 35 (Canada, Univ. of Portland)
17 Tobin Heath, 30 (USA, Univ. of North Carolina)
Forward
NO. PLAYER, AGE (COUNTRY, COLLEGE)
9 Caitlin Foord, 23 (Australia)

SEATTLE. Injuries have been a problem for the Reign. Allie Long (right knee sprain) hasn't played in a month, and Megan Rapinoe (rib soreness) sat out the last two games.

Last 10 games: 5-2-3.

Rapinoe at least and Danish defender Theresa Nielsen should be back on Saturday, making the Reign a much stronger team than the one the Thorns beat quite easily in the season finale.

“They will look different and we will look a little different as well,” Thorns head coach Mark Parsons says. “Friday night was a great performance from the group, a really, really good performance, but this will be a different game and we have to find a new level.”

Seattle Reign probable XI:
Goalkeeper
NO. PLAYER, AGE (COUNTRY, COLLEGE)
1 Lydia Williams, 30 (Australia)
Defenders
NO. PLAYER, AGE (COUNTRY, COLLEGE)
7 Stephanie Catley, 24 (Australia)
3 Lauren Barnes, 29 (USA, UCLA)
4 Megan Oyster, 26 (USA, Univ. of Virginia)
8 Theresa Nielsen, 32 (Denmark)
Midfielders
NO. PLAYER, AGE (COUNTRY, COLLEGE)
12 Morgan Andrews, 23 (USA, USC)
10 Jessica Fishlock, 31 (Wales)
20 Rumi Utsugi, 29 (Japan)
Forwards
NO. PLAYER, AGE (COUNTRY, COLLEGE)
22 Jasmyne Spencer, 28 (USA, Univ. of Maryland)
14 Jodie Taylor, 32 (England, Oregon State Univ.)
15 Megan Rapinoe, 33 (USA, Univ. of Portland)
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