A crowd of Portland Thorns supporters cheered the players at their home pitch Tuesday night after the team claimed victory Saturday in the National Women’s Soccer League championship – their third league title in 10 years.
At Providence Park, fans sat in the stands while the Thorns appeared on a stage. Over the weekend, the Thorns won 2-0 against the Kansas City Current. Portland is the first NWSL team to win three championships – their previous victories were in 2013 and 2017 – and the game was the first to be broadcast in primetime on network TV.
A big piece of news Tuesday night was that star forward Christine Sinclair will play another season, her 11th, with the Thorns next year. Sinclair is the captain of both the Thorns and the Canadian national team.
THE GOAT IS STAYING IN SOCCER CITY 🐐— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) November 2, 2022
Christine Sinclair will return to Portland for an 11th season in 2023 #BAONPDX pic.twitter.com/iQPc20YRPM
The Thorns’ historic third NWSL trophy came after the league was rocked a month ago by an investigation that showed systemic abuse and misconduct, spanning multiple teams, coaches and victims. The Thorns organization was specifically highlighted in the report.
While team management scrambled to address the controversy, the players said it brought them together.
“We’ve put in so much work this whole season. We’ve gone through a lot of stuff that isn’t in the job description,” Thorns forward Sophia Smith told the Associated Press Saturday. “So it just felt really rewarding. I felt so proud of our team because we’ve just gone through so much — and to be able to bring this back to our fans who have stuck with us through everything this year, it means so much to us.”
During Saturday’s win, Smith scored the first goal for the Thorns and earned the championship MVP award. Smith, 22, became the youngest player to score a goal in an NWSL Championship.
Other speakers at the Tuesday rally included the team’s general manager Karina LeBlanc, senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and head coach Rhian Wilkinson.
“The best part of it is just watching the players and the fans get to interact like this,” Wilkinson said. “This is what we’ve needed all season and it’s so great that they get to do this together.”
Wilkinson praised the way the team played on Saturday, saying their bond off the field makes all the difference.
“They’re legitimately very close and you saw that on the field, they fought for one another, they never quit on each other,” she said, “and that’s what makes this locker room so special.”
Four Thorns players will represent the United States Women’s National Team in an upcoming training camp ahead of two matches against Germany.
Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Sam Coffey and Smith were included in the 23-player roster announced by USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski on Sunday.