After a memorable and historic NWSL season, it all comes to a close Sunday with a huge final match up between the Portland Thorns and the Kansas City Current. Both squads had pretty remarkable seasons and from what they’ve shown us, this is going to be a pretty tight final in D.C. on Sunday Night. Before we can pick a winner let’s take a look at how both teams are shaping up for their final match up.
Before we can even get started on how we think Kansas City is going to perform, we need to recognize the total transformation the club has made since last season. After finishing at the bottom of the table last season, Kansas City made a remarkable turnaround for a truly historic season for the club. Throughout the offseason and transfer deadline Kansas City put in the work to grab major players that would turn their season around.
Now let’s get to the nitty gritty of this final match up for Kansas City. If there is one player that is lighting up the pitch for the Current this season, it’s goalkeeper A.D. Franch. In their semi-final win against the OL Reign, Franch came up big with some pretty show stopping saves. Stopping Huitema from equalizing the match in the first half, Franch provided her heroics that would send them onto the final.
While Kansas City’s defense has quickly shaped up to be one of the best in the league, it’s their prolific turn around on offense that has propelled them to the finish line this season. After acquiring Kristen Hamilton last season, the Current have experienced a huge turn around in goal scoring and offensive power. Not only has Hamilton made a difference, but the acquisition of Kansas City native Cece Kizer has sent the Current to the next level on the offensive half.
So what do the Current need to do to take home their first title in franchise history? Slow down the Thorns attack. With huge power players up top and on the wings, the Current will need to play smart defensively. If the Current can strike early and hold down the fort, the title could most definitely be theirs.
Making their way back to the championship, Portland is really looking to seal the deal this time around. The club only faced three losses this season, the best of any club this season, yet they still came in second. One thing that Portland was able to do this season was overcome being down and ensuring that they do not drop points both at home and on the road. Portland’s biggest threat is not their slurry of USWNT players, but their tenacity to make sure they get points could be what sets them over the top.
One thing that we definitely can’t skip is Portland’s multitude of players that have reached and played on some of the biggest stages of the game. A veteran anchor in the back line with Becky Sauerbrunn makes goal scoring a real nightmare even for the best offenses in the league. What’s even more remarkable is the return of Crystal Dunn after nearly 180 days off the pitch after the birth of her first child. Her goal in their semifinal match would prove to be the game-winner for the Thorns against a very good San Diego side.
We can’t forget that Portland is full of extremely talented attacking players that are earning call-ups from national teams far and wide. With Sophia Smith as the anchor up top, even young players like Olivia Moultree are scoring goals and dishing out assists all season. There is no denying that Portland is an all-around squad with players in every position with generally more experience on both the club and international level.
If the Thorns want to take home yet another NWSL title, they’ll need to make sure they slow down the Kansas City attack. With young stars looking to make a major impact in the offense for the Current, Portland will need to slow their attack and break down their possession early. The Thorns best chances of a win also come from breaking down the back line of the Current early and often. Playing with just three in the back, they can pounce on the Current pretty quickly if played right.
Shaping up to be one of the most interesting NWSL Finals in quite a few years, picking a winner is nearly impossible. Who do you think is taking home the title? Let us know in the comments!