PORTLAND — The Portland Thorns FC hopes to leave Jeld-Wen Field for the last time as the first-place team in the National Women’s Soccer League.
That is the scenario if Portland can beat FC Kansas City in a Sunday showdown between the top two clubs in the NWSL standings.
Kansas City (10 wins, five ties, four losses) leads Portland (10-4-4) by one point. After Sunday’s 5:30 p.m. match, which will be live on Fox Soccer Channel (Comcast Cable channel 401/800), the Thorns will have three games left in the regular season, Kansas City will have two.
Adding to the stakes for the Thorns is that this is their final regular-season home match. To appear again in Portland this season, they must finish first or second in the standings to be able to host a playoff semifinal match.
This is the fourth meeting between the teams. Each has one win and there has been one tie between Portland and Kansas City.
Both teams have plenty of firepower, as was evident on June 6 when Portland won 4-3 at Jeld-Wen Field. Lauren (Cheney) Holiday had two goals that day, and also scored in a 2-0 win over Portland in Kansas City in late June.
Kansas City is on a nine-game unbeaten run, including three consecutive wins, to surge into first place. Holiday’s 10 goals and nine assists lead the league’s best offense. Rookie Erika Tymrak has scored six goals and was the NWSL player of the month for July.
Portland has its own rookie contributor. Mana Shim has goals in each of the last four games.
And after struggling for goals through in the middle of July, the Thorns have scored three goals in each of their last two matches — a 3-3 tie with Chicago a week ago and Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Sky Blue FC.
Alex Morgan leads Portland with seven goals and five assists, and had a strong outing on Wednesday. Christine Sinclair’s scoring drought ended with two goals against Chicago, giving the Canadian international six goals and two assists on the season. Shim now has five goals and two assists.
Traffic alert — Interstate 84 westbound is closed on Sunday. Fans traveling from east Vancouver will need to find an alternate route to the game.
Attendance numbers — The Thorns have averaged 12,890 fans per home game this season, by far most in the NWSL. That is also 4,000 more fans than Chivas USA of MLS draws to an average home match.
Doubleheader — Fans with tickets to Sunday’s Thorns match can also watch the MLS Reserve League match between the Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, which kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field. Reserve matches feature players who haven’t seen much playing time for their MLS teams, along with developmental players. Several Clark County players who are part of the Timbers’ youth academy have seen action this season in Reserve League matches.