NWSL Semifinal Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs. Western New York Flash

ROCHESTER, NY - JULY 29: McCall Zerboni #77 of Portland Thorns FC controls the ball against the defense of Halimatu Ayinde #10 of the Western New York Flash during the first half at Sahlen's Stadium on July 29, 2015 in Rochester, New York. The Portland Thorns FC defeated the Western New York Flash 2-0. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

NWSL SEMIFINAL: PORTLAND THORNS VS. WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH

OCTOBER 2ND, 2016

PROVIDENCE PARK. PORTLAND, OREGON

5:00 pm ET

FOX SPORTS ONE

This is the Portland Thorns‘ first semifinal appearance since 2014. They won the championship in the NWSL’s inaugural season but haven’t been back since that year. Portland’s sixth place finish last season had the front office mastering the art of the offseason.

NWSL Semifinal Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs. Western New York Flash

Projected Lineup

The Thorns have seven internationals with big match experience starting for the team. The raucous Providence Park crowd won’t pressure the squad. They know how to stay calm when being heavily supported.

Portland is the right team to win the NWSL Shield. The Thorns have scored three of more goals in their last four games according to www.soccerpunter.com . In eleven games, Portland has scored at least two goals.

The Thorns’ defense is equally dominate averaging 0.75 goals a game. This is the team the NWSL front office wants to be in Houston and hoisted the trophy. Portland can be tough on defense and artists when attacking.

The Western New York Flash are artists out of necessity. Their key defensive signings in Alanna Kennedy and Abby Erceg haven’t done their jobs defending the attacking third so the Flash combated that issue by simply scoring the most goals in the league.

The Flash was defeated by Portland at Providence Park during the season, but the game was worth watching. Western New York’s attack was able to penetrate the Thorns defense enough to almost get a tie. They are capable of beating the Thorns in front in front over 22,000 Portland fans.

And will the Portland crowd be a factor at all for Western New York could feed off their energy. They may also become reckless like they sometimes can be.

In this match, no lead may be safe. Portland might have to withstand the Flash attack and the Flash will have to show steadiness when the Thorns are passing and pressing.

This semifinal won’t bore you. Goals will be scored. The Thorns and Flash can get physical. Portland has to keep scoring to defeat Western New York and the Flash can keep scoring to win.

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