The North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns FC faced off twice in the 2017 NWSL regular season, with each team winning at home by the score of 1-0.
They’re set to meet for the third and final time this season with everything at stake in the 2017 NWSL Championship. They’ll meet on a neutral field, Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, Lifetime).
Both the Courage and Thorns ended up at the top of the table in not just points (Courage — 49, Thorns 47), but also home wins (Thorns — 10, Courage — 9) and goals allowed (Thorns — 20, Courage — 22)
It’s not surprising that both of their meetings this season were close games that went in favor of the home side each time.
April 22: Courage get first home win
The Courage hosted the Thorns in the second game of the season for both sides. The game was considered a rematch of last year’s semifinal between the Thorns and Western New York Flash, won 4-3 in thrilling fashion by Western New York, an upset of the 2016 NWSL Shield winners. The Flash went on to win the 2016 NWSL Championship.
But the Flash relocated to North Carolina in the offseason, as a new franchise in the Courage, so the April game was a fresh start and their first ever home game at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The match featured just five total shots on target and needed a late goal to decide the winner.
With the score still 0-0 in the 75th minute, Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch stopped Sam Mewis’ penalty kick, but the Courage scored the game-winner just six minutes later. Debinha headed in a cross from Jess McDonald for her first career NWSL goal and the Courage won for the first time in North Carolina.
It was the second of an NWSL record 12 clean sheets produced by the Courage defense in 2017.
July 15: Thorns come out on top at Providence Park
Portland earned one of their record-setting ten wins at home in July, 1-0 over the Courage.
Thorns forward Hayley Raso scored one of her eventual six goals in 2017, the game-winner in the 70th minute. Like the first game, the only goal came on a header, this time off an assist from Meghan Klingenberg.
Portland was able to take seven shots on goal against the North Carolina defense. The Courage, meanwhile, only took two shots on target.
The Courage had a chance to tie the game in the 90th minute, but Taylor Smith’s shot went off the crossbar and the Thorns held on to the win.
The game was the seventh of Franch’s record-setting 11 shutouts in the 2017 season.
The North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns FC will meet Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET on Lifetime in the 2017 NWSL Championship.