The Portland Thorns have become the first NWSL team to win three championship titles, after beating the Kansas City Current (KCC) 2-0 on October 29 in Washington D.C. The Thorns have led an amazing season, adding yet another win to the books. Thorns and NWSL fans alike are thrilled with the results, and excited to see the team play in the upcoming season.
Two days after winning the league’s MVP, 22 year old Sophia Smith became the youngest player to score in a NWSL Championship final, and was named MVP for the game. Many had questioned if Smith deserved league MVP until this game. Ruth Von Fortune (12), Franklin varsity soccer player, says, “I think that Sophia Smith had a great impact on the game and season because of her ability to score.” Smith’s opening goal at the 40 minute mark led the Thorns to victory. Smith caught KCC’s goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, former Thorns player, flat-footed in a 1v1, after a breakaway assisted by Sam Coffey. The Thorns’ persistent pressure on the KCC led to an own goal by KC Current’s Addisyn Merrick, shortly after halftime. Emerson Porter (10), Franklin soccer player, says, “The [T]horns have always been a consistently [good] team. I think they have strengthened their mental game which was a factor in their win.” Porter adds, “this season they have really grow[n] and improve[d] as a team and they definitely deserved it.”
On Monday, Oct. 3, a yearlong investigation into the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) on patterns of abuse by male coaches towards female athletes, commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation, was released. This report sent shockwaves throughout soccer communities around the world, especially in Portland. After the Yates Report was released, many questioned how the Thorns would react to the backlash before the finals. “[The] Thorns have had to cope with the trauma of the abuse scandal, winning the championship showed how strong the team is,” Porter says.
Following the Thorns return to Portland, Christine Sinclair announced that she will be staying with the Thorns for another season, although many in the soccer community expected her to retire. Sinclair is an Olympic gold medalist; two-time Olympic bronze medalist; The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football champion; and 14-time Canada Soccer Player of the Year award, along with having many other records and awards. Sinclair is a core facet of the Thorns team, so fans were overjoyed to hear the news. Along with Sinclair, Morgan Weaver and Sam Coffey also announced their contract extensions through the 2024 and 2025 seasons, respectively. “Sam Coffey [always] control[s] the midfield very well and always helps control the flow of the game,” Porter says. In addition to the returning seasoned veterans, the Thorns have lots of young talent to develop. Olivia Moultrie, at 17, has become the youngest player to ever appear in a NWSL Championship game.
With many records broken and awards won, the Thorns have proved their dominance in the NWSL, despite the Yates Report controversy. While the loss was disappointing for the KCC, in only their second season of existence the Current went from the bottom of the league to the top. The Current received many significant financial investments to upgrade their facilities and signed many skilled players. Overall both teams had an amazing season and fans, players, and coaching staff alike are excited for what’s to come.