Lindsey Horan Portland Thorns FC

For the third season in a row, the Portland Thorns—who have been more in sync than Justin Timberlake and Joey Fatone—are heading into another playoff scenario this month... but this time? WE GOT OURSELVES A HOMETOWN THROWDOWN! The Thorns are locked and loaded for a playoff match against Northwest rival the Seattle Reign in Portland on Saturday, September 15 at HIGH NOON. But all eyes are on the North Carolina Courage, who are currently sitting at the top of the table for playoff spots. North Carolina has been a force to be reckoned with this season—dominating the league with only one loss the entire year. And the Courage certainly have something to prove here in Portland—since the Thorns (ahem) defeated the Courage to win the 2017 NWSL Championship. HOLLA FOR YOUR LADIES IN RED!

WHO TO WATCH

If you want to see my face contort as if I were doing advanced trig, just ask me who my favorite Thorns player is. (Bzzzt! CANNOT COMPUTE! Bzzzt!) This team is deep with brand new players and experienced talent, but their individual strengths are only activated when they’re on the field together. They’re like the X-Men... only they’re women, there are 23 of them, and they aren’t fictitious. Nonetheless, here are three of my favs that you should keep an eye on during the coming playoffs AND BEYOND.

Lindsey Horan (AKA “The Great Horan”)

This lady is an unstoppable midfielder for the Thorns as well as the US Women’s National team. Keep an eye on her during corner and free kicks. Teams try their best to cover her, but during set pieces she still manages to get her head on the ball and into the back of the net.

Christine Sinclair (AKA Sinc, AKA the Canadian Sensation Rockin’ the PDX Nation, AKA THE FACE OF EXPERIENCE, PATIENCE, AND COMPETITIVE SMARTS)

Sinclair has showered this city with her talents since her college days at the University of Portland. Positioned as a forward, there’s a lot to love here: She’s (A) got an unmatchable talent to recognize opportunities that less experienced players don’t see coming; (B) creating opportunities and getting the ball where it needs to be—as in, scoring position; (C) the captain of both the Thorns and the Canadian National team; and most importantly (D) level-headed and patient, but watch out for those flashes of fiery competitiveness when she’s after a win. You old-timers know this as THE EYE OF THE TIGER!

Tobin Heath (AKA Tobes-Lerone, AKA Jedi Master)

This woman is a stone-faced killer and a MASTER when it comes to fast, furious footwork. Through exemplary ball control, Heath has the power to speed up and slow down the game. Her corner and free kicks bend and break in new ways during each match, and yet, no matter how badass her on-field performance may have been, you can hear her tell reporters that she can still improve and work harder.

If you’re a fan of great soccer, the playoffs (September 15) and the final (September 22) are going to be sure bets. Want to support women in the workplace? Then get your guts and butts down to Providence Park and start SCREAMCLAPPING for the women in red!