Game: San Diego Wave vs. Portland Thorns
Where: Providence Park, Portland, Oregon
When: Saturday, Sept. 30
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
TV: Paramount +
San Diego Wave FC will face off in their biggest match of the season in one of the best soccer atmospheres in the U.S. in the Rose City when they take on the first-place and reigning NWSL champions, Portland Thorns FC.
The Wave currently hold second place in the NWSL with 30 points, which would give them a first-round bye and home semi-final match, but the Thorns are first with 32 points, and six other teams are within seven points, leaving the overall playoff picture in a confusing state of uncertainty.
A win would put the Wave in the top spot, and a path to the NWSL Shield, but a loss could leave them in fourth place by the end of the weekend.
The Wave lost to the Thorns in an abysmal 1-4 performance in an NWSL Challenge Cup at Providence Park while their international players were away for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. During the regular season, the Wave played to a 1-1 draw at home in May to start their nine-game winless streak that has since been broken.
The Wave made the trip to Portland late Wednesday night to train the next two days, and Head Coach Casey Stoney and Defender Christen Westphal spoke on the upcoming matchup.
“They’ve got threats in attacking areas, so we need to make sure that we’re defensively better than we were last time. We have to start with intensity. We know going in there (that It’s a bit of a cauldron,” Stoney said. “The fans get right behind them. So, we gotta make sure that we start the game very fast.”
The slow start in the Wave’s last match against Kansas City Current put them at a 2-0 deficit early on, which made it very difficult to come back despite holding the opposing side to a few shots and played a strong second half.
“I think if we put too much pressure on ourselves that that’s not gonna help us show up how we want to show up,” said Westphal. “I think our mindset is we know the circumstances, but we’re just gonna treat it like any other game so that we can show up and be our best self.”
“It’s just gonna be a really good game in terms of what’s on the line, two great teams going at it. So, I think it’s just gonna be fun like it’s exciting, and these are the games that you want to be a part of, and this is why we play,” Westphal said.
Abraham Zepeda is a bilingual Chula Vista Native covering the Tijuana Xolos for EVT. He spent the summer of 2022 covering San Diego Loyal SC and San Diego Wave FC. He is also currently a student at the University of Oregon pursuing a degree in journalism.