The National Women's Soccer League will close out the 2021 Challenge Cup on Saturday as Portland Thorns FC and Gotham FC square off for the championship at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon.
A new Challenge Cup champion will be crowned after the inaugural 2020 Challenge Cup winning Houston Dash were eliminated from contention in group play. Portland, winners of the 2013 and 2017 NWSL championship and 2016 NWSL shield are no strangers to big games, while Gotham FC, 2020 Challenge Cup semifinalist, now find themselves in the 2021 final.
Here's how to watch and what to know about the big game this weekend:
- Date: Saturday, May 8
- Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
- Location: Providence Park -- Portland, Oregon
- TV: CBS
- Streaming: Paramount+
Portland Thorns host another final
Portland Thorns FC will host the Challenge Cup final after closing out their group play with 10 points out the West Division. After opening last year's NWSL Challenge Cup with a 2-1 loss to North Carolina, Portland have lost only one of their last 13 matches (W7 D5) in the Challenge Cup and Fall Series.
The Thorns have outscored opponents 18-7 in those 13 matches, never conceding more than one goal in any match. The club has a history of competing in big games, and have a roster with depth that have show they can compete at a high level. Nine different Thorns players have been involved in their six goals during this season's Challenge Cup. Six different players have scored their six goals, while three other players have registered an assist.
Eyes will be on big name players like Linsdey Horan and Crystal Dunn, but look for Rocky Rodriguez and Simone Charley to have an impact during the match.
Gotham FC step into bright lights
Formerly Sky Blue FC, Gotham FC rebranded ahead of the 2021 Challenge Cup as NY/NJ Gotham FC. The east coast metropolis club have built off their 2020 Challenge Cup semifinal appearance, winning their first two matches in the East Division during the 2021 group stage.
The team enters the Challenge Cup final off two consecutive scoreless draws, although Gotham kept clean sheets in three of their four NWSL Challenge Cup matches to reach the final. Those two shutouts were Gotham's first consecutive clean sheets in a single season since a pair of 1-0 wins to close out the 2014 regular season. The team will now try to get back to scoring on the big stage. Gotham recorded assists on all five of their goals in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup group stage, with Margaret Purce the only player to score twice and Ifeoma Onumonu the only player to record two assists. Look for striker Paige Monaghan to stay active on the top line for the club as well.