Portland Thorns vs. FC Kansas City: Preview

Vying to reclaim the top spot, Portland will need to rely on Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair to push past the FCKC defense.

Portland and Kansas are entering week nine after suffering defeats in their previous games against Chicago and Sky Blue. FCKC may be at a greater disadvantage on Thursday after losing Lauren Sesselmann. She received a red card in week 7 against Sky Blue which results in a one game suspension. She is one of their strongest defensive players and replacing her will be difficult. Andonovski may opt to start Katie Kelly as she is regularly subbed in the closing minutes of the second half in place of Sesselmann or Kristie Mewis.

Portland regains their top strikers this week after the national team players returned from an eventful Sunday game in Toronto. Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair's influence from the offense was sorely missed by Portland, who fell 2-0 to Chicago on Saturday. For the first time in the clubs history they conceded more than a goal. Danielle Foxhoven and Mana Shim were the forwards and on a regular night would be phenomenal in those roles as long as they had support from Sinclair and Morgan. The squad was missing a player that could make a dash down the field into the box like Morgan or a player that could spot pockets inside the box like Sinclair.

For Portland to pull a win on Thursday they must control the midfield because FCKC's Desiree Scott and Mewis are great at both defending and setting up attacks down the center. Mewis has developed a promising partnership with Renae Cuellar. Together they string passes that lead into the box.

Morgan and Sinclair have eight goals between them and outnumber FCKC with seven goals this season split between three players. Cuellar leads with four goals and remains their leading goal scorer but on Thursday she will need to work around Portland's strongest defender, Rachel Buehler. This task requires Lauren Cheney as she already has three assists and two goals to her name. She will be instrumental in seeding the ball towards the goal for a running Cuellar.

Portland Thorns FC Injuries

OUT: N/A

FC Kansas City Injuries

OUT: N/A

Match Date/Time: Thursday June 6 2013 at 7:30 pm PST

Venue: JELD-WEN Field, Portland, ORE

Online: NWSL Soccer YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/nwslsoccer

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