The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

August 30, 2013

Wambach vs Morgan in NWSL championship game

(Continued)

The team shares Jeld-Wen Field with the Portland Timbers of MLS. Soccer great Mia Hamm attended a game and called it "an amazing atmosphere" full of cheering and singing. The Timbers, owned by Merritt Paulson, are the only MLS club to support a women's team in their new league.

The Thorns averaged 13,320 fans in 11 home games, ranking second all-time for a season in U.S. women's pro soccer. It trails only Hamm's former team, the Washington Freedom, which averaged 14,421 in 2001.

MATCHUPS: Portland coach Cindy Parlow Cone says Morgan has been practicing all week. "If there's no swelling in the knee and she's good to go, we'll play her."

Cone knows the Thorns will need to contain Wambach and midfielder Lloyd (8 goals). "Abby is world-class in the air. But she's great at laying the ball off and we need an accounting for her at all times."

Lloyd calls Morgan and Canadian star Christine Sinclair (8 goals) "very dangerous players," but likes Western New York's chances in the final at home.

"We're hungry and gritty, we have the blue-collar work mentality. Collectively, we all have a great time with one another and that translates to the field."

Flash coach Aaran Lines says their eight-game unbeaten streak "helped put us in a good spot. Players are peaking and playing confident at the right time."

The teams split their two meetings during the regular season (1-1 at Portland; 0-0 at New York).

Said Thorns goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc: "The biggest thing going into a championship game is belief. It's about paying attention to little things so we don't give them opportunities."

Portland boasts the best road record in the league at 6-2-3; the Flash are tops at home at 8-1-2.

LEAGUE MVP: Holiday of FC Kansas City was voted MVP of the league, followed in voting by Wambach and Lori Chalupny of the Chicago Red Stars. Holiday led the league in goals (12) and assists (9) and guided KC to second place behind New York. The U.S. national team player out of UCLA had at least a goal or an assist in 10 consecutive games and played every minute in 18 games. Lauren Cheney married NBA star Jrue Holiday last month.

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