Date: April 23, 2016
Location: Swope Soccer Village, Kansas City, Missouri
Time: 7:30 p.m. central
How to Watch: YouTube
FC Kansas City
More than new kits with a second star on top of the crest, FC Kansas City showed off a totally new look in their opening match against Western New York Flash. With so many retirements and a couple of pregnancies, the Blues had quite a few lineup changes in 2016, in addition to a new formation. They went with a 3-5-2 against Western New York, with new addition Brittany Taylor joining Yael Averbuch and Becky Sauerbrunn in the back. Shea Groom and Erica Tyrak took over the front lines, and the midfield was controlled by Heather O'Reilly and Jen Buczkowski.
In their first match, the Blues were a little overwhelmed by the Flash. The only goal they gave up was on a controversial penalty, but the away side controlled the majority of the match. The Blues did have a chance to equalize on a penalty of their own, but O'Reilly clanged it off the post to allow the Flash to win 1-0.
In order to defeat the Thorns, FCKC will need to put together a strong defensive performance. The Thorns have too good of an attack for FCKC to try and outscore them. The Blues will need some time to adjust after a tumultuous offseason, but they have now lost all four of their opening matches in franchise history. Considering they've made the playoffs every year and won two championships, however, that's a tradition they may be happy to keep.
Portland Thorns FC
The Thorns put together a solid performance in their 2016 opener, knocking off expansion side the Orlando Pride 2-1. Tobin Heath was in fine form with two assists while Lindsey Horan and Icelandic international Dagny Brynjarsdottir each had a goal.
The Thorns are trying to recover from a 2015 that saw them finish sixth in the league and miss the playoffs for the first time in their three-season history. They no longer have Alex Morgan as she was traded to Orlando City, but the Thorns made a serious bounty with the trade, netting World Cup veteran defender Megan Klingenberg in the expansion draft, as well as hyped-up defender Emily Sonnett in the college draft.
To win, the Thorns need to take advantage of FC Kansas City in the back. While the Blues do have one of the best defenders in the world in Becky Sauerbrunn, a 3-5-2 can leave the wings exposed if the Blues are caught too far forward.
Not to mention, the Thorns have f****** Tobin Heath.