Reign FC will look to sweep the field at the 2019 Thorns Spring Invitational with a win at Merlo Field against the Portland Thorns on Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Portland, Ore. Following wins against the U.S. Women’s National Team U23s March 24 and the Chicago Red Stars March 24, the Reign will look to bring a perfect preseason record back home.
Sweep stakes (or a Brief History of Sweeping)
The Reign swept its only other trip to the Thorns Spring Invitational back in the competition’s inaugural edition in 2016. That year, wins against the Thorns, Houston Dash and Oregon State Beavers saw the Reign emerge unscathed from three matches at Providence Park.
“It’s only preseason, but we’d certainly like to wrap up the week with a win Saturday,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “The bigger thing will be eliminating some of our mistakes and capitalizing on our opportunities, but if we do that we should have a good chance at being successful.”
Scouting the Thorns
The Reign were 2-0-1 against the Thorns in regular season play in 2018, including a tense 3-2 win on the road May 5. A loss on the final day of the season caused the Reign to finish just below the Thorns in the standings, giving Portland home field advantage for the NWSL semifinal that the hosts won 2-1 at Providence Park.
The Thorns are 1-0-1 in the competition so far, having beaten fellow NWSL side Chicago Red Stars 2-1 March 24, before dropping a 1-0 result to the U.S. U23s Wednesday night.
(International) duty calls
Both clubs will be absent some of their biggest names for Saturday’s contest. Reign FC’s Megan Rapinoe and Allie Long were called in to the U.S. Women’s National Team camp by head coach Jill Ellis, along with Portland’s Emily Sonnett, Tobin Heath, and Lindsey Horan. Ellis called up Adrianna Franch as well, but she was replaced in the U.S. camp due to injury.
Other federations have recently released their list of call-ups for upcoming friendlies, but many international players will still see the field for both teams prior to leaving for international duty on Sunday.
“We may have some of our international players out there Saturday,” Andonovski said. “We expect the Thorns will as well. The call-ups affect everyone, but we still expect the players who are here to step up to the challenge that we’re giving them.”