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
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.”