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Pamplin Media Group – On Football: NWSL Expansion Teams Make a Strong Early Impression

Discussing Football News and Notes… Fitted, WICC Football Dates Announced, and Timbers Return to Action

PMG PHOTO: DIEGO J.  DIAS - Portland Thorns linebacker Hina Sugita looks on for Lauren Barnes of Seattle's OL Reign on May 13 in Providence Park.  Rivals NWSL tied.

After beating Houston 4-0, Portland

The spikes pick up steam on Sunday, June 19th.

visit from Orlando Pride. These are their thorns

last match before the international break. And a rare home visit until the calendar shifts to August. July 16 visit from New Jersey/New York Gotham FC is the only home game in July.

A hectic home schedule may not have been the best option this season of transition to coaching.

Ryan Wilkinson. On the one hand, the limited number of trips at the beginning of the schedule meant a little more preparation time. But battling for wins in this early stretch of six home games means there will be pressure away from home to be productive.

They certainly answered that challenge with their 4-0 victory in Houston on Sunday June 12th. Not only has Portland dealt with tough weather, after watching a 2-0 lead in San Diego fade away in a disappointing 2-2 draw four days ago, the Spikes quickly took the lead in Houston while maintaining control of the game with reassuring confidence and determination.

San Diego isn’t exactly a weak first year team. The way the 2-2 tie played out was disappointing, but for Wilkinson, a draw on the road against an early-tempo team in the NWSL was a positive move.

San Diego comes out on top this week in the standings, with freshman Angel City tied for third with Portland.

It’s good for the National Women’s Football League,

even as the NWSL continues to grapple with investigations into the behavior of coaches and management.

New teams have raised the competitive level by adding more jobs for talented

players.

“This is a testament to the quality of the players that we have, that we bring to the States, that we grow in the States, that we develop here. The expansion team has no problems,” Thorns quarterback and US women’s team captain Becky Sauerbrunn said after the draw in San Diego.

Naturally, the Sauerbrunn and Thorns would love to see new rivals struggle to get back on their feet—at least when they face Portland. Adding to the sting in the San

Diego, Kristen Westphal and rookie Amira Ali provided assists for two of Wave’s late goals. Both players moved to San Diego from Portland as part of the expansion process. Ali was selected by the Thornes in the 2021 draft but never played for Portland as she ended her college career at Rutgers.

But, in general, more competitive teams are good news for women’s football.

“It’s a testament to how much this league has evolved and how when you bring in a new team and infrastructure, you get the right people in the right places to make decisions.”

Sauerbrunn said. “And you’re bringing in the right players, which is a testament to how good they are.

Well.”

List of Sinclair ascensions – Christine Sinclair scored her 58th NWSL regular season goal in San Diego, finishing second on the league’s all-time goal list alone. It was a beautiful goal: Sam Coffey accurately placed the ball over the heads of the San Diego defenders, which was her first NWSL pass. The goal was scored by Sinclair in his 150th NWSL game, and he became only the fourth player to reach that number in the league a decade ago.

Sauerbrunn said she would love to see Sinclair chasing Sam Kerr’s league record of 76 career goals. Sinclair’s response: “That’s very kind of Becky. Maybe I’ll stay if she does. So let’s see how it works.”

WICC Dates Announced – Women’s Football League champions from France, England and Mexico will join the Portland Thorns on August 17 and 20 at Providence Park for the 2022 Women’s International Challenge Cup.

The Thorns are the reigning champions of the event organized by Relevent Sports Group and announced as a competition for the women’s football club world championship.

In the semi-finals on August 17, Olympique Lyon will play Chelsea, while Portland will play Monterrey of Mexico. Olympique Lyonnais won the French championship and the UEFA Women’s Champions League title. Lyon include Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan, who is on loan from the French club until 2023. Chelsea, the English champions, plays Australian Sam Kerr, the NWSL leader in career goals before moving to Chelsea.

Tickets will go on sale June 21st.

Timbers is back in action – Will the Portland Timbers be back in winning form when they visit the LA Galaxy at 2:00 pm on Saturday, June 18 (ESPN)? It doesn’t hurt that injured players Felipe Mora, Eric Williamson, Claudio Bravo and Jaroslav Nezhgoda have returned to training during this international break. Whether it’s this week or during upcoming home games, the Timbers must be able to field a roster that can turn this dying season around.

In the meantime, T2 will be aiming for their first MLS NEXT Pro league game win when the Houston Dynamo 2 visit Hillsborough Stadium at 6:00 pm on Sunday, June 19th.


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