Portland Thorns

Christine Sinclair scores the goal of the week, or month, or season, but Portland Thorns, Utah Royals play to 2-2 draw

Christine Sinclair scores the goal of the week, or month, or season, but Portland Thorns, Utah Royals play to 2-2 draw

What. A. Game.

Adrianna Franch made incredible saves. Christine Sinclair had a sweet volley from 20 yards out. Lindsey Horan’s go-ahead goal almost locked in three points for the road team.

But Friday’s meeting between the Portland Thorns and Utah Royals was spoiled with a 90th minute equalizer from Rachel Corsie, who gave Utah its second goal of the night and a 2-2 tie at the final whistle.

The old adage holds true: it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Let’s take a look back at the best moments from Friday’s matchup, which fell nothing short of the thrills and spills we could have hoped for.

It all started in the 9th minute when Thorns captain Christine Sinclair found a rebounded ball and took one hit from outside the 18-yard box to give Portland a 1-0 lead. This piece of beauty has to be the goal of the week, or month…or season. Take a look:

Meanwhile, Christen Press had other plans for the Royals. The Utah forward caught NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, Adrianna Franch, and the Thorns defense sleeping, firing off a shot from the far post to level the match 1-1 during the 43rd minute. The internet was shook.

The second half was physical, and tough. Katie Stengel and Kelly O’Hara fueled the Royals, but Adrianna Franch was full of saves.

Just when the match looked over, Thorns defender Meghan Klingenburg found Lindsey Horan in the box, who took a spike to the ankle while scoring in the 86th minute.

When it looked like Horan’s goal had locked in three points on the road for the Thorns, Rachel Corsie had other plans. In the opening minute of stoppage, Utah came back with a thrilling goal from the Royals centerback. 

The match ended in a 2-2 draw and both teams walked away with one point. Up next, the Thorns take on the Houston Dash on Wednesday at Providence Park. 

Portland Thorns draft first teenager in NWSL history

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USA Today Images

Portland Thorns draft first teenager in NWSL history

At 19, Sophia Smith has already accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime.

The forward out of Stanford has scored 24 goals and 11 assists across two seasons with the Cardinal. She has also spent time with the U.S. women’s national team, where she took part in training camp this month in Tampa, Florida. 

On Thursday, Smith accomplished another feat when she was selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Portland Thorns in the 2020 NWSL College Draft. She is the first teenager to be drafted in league history.

Moments after she was selected, Smith discussed her decision to go pro.

“I just felt like this was the best time for me to take the next chapter of my life and my career, and I think there’s no better time to do it than now,” Smith said in a video on the Thorns Twitter account. “I went for it and followed my heart.”

Smith will be joined by a familiar face, forward Morgan Weaver out of Washington State, who was taken with the No. 2 pick. Portland traded the No. 15 and 16 picks, plus allocation money to the Chicago Red Stars to pick Weaver.

The 22-year-old had 43 goals and 12 assists in 85 games for the Cougars and helped lead WSU to the semifinals of the 2019 College Cup.

“It was a tremendous opportunity to be in a position to acquire a player of Morgan’s quality,” head coach Mark Parsons said in a press release. “She’s had an incredible six to 12 months, showing the physical, technical and tactical qualities of someone that has an extremely bright future. We are getting someone who has no ceiling and brings an incredible mentality to how she plays the game.”

Defender Meaghan Nally was selected in the third round, No. 25 overall, out of Georgetown University. In four seasons, Nally made 88 appearances, scored eight goals and had six assists. She is considered one of the elite defenders in the Big East conference.

Another trade was announced in the final moments between the Thorns and Reign F.C. The deal will reportedly bring a Reign player to Portland in exchange for the 34th overall pick. Parsons teased the move on Twitter Thursday.

It is rumored that the Thorns have acquired defender Christen Westphal.

While it's still too early to determine how the latest draft class will impact the Thorns success this season, one thing is obvious: the additions are likely to improve Portland's attack. 

 

World Cup Champ and Portland Thorn Meghan Klingenberg joins The Bridge Podcast

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USATI

World Cup Champ and Portland Thorn Meghan Klingenberg joins The Bridge Podcast

Meghan Klingenberg came to the Portland Thorns in a very unique way. In what turned out to be a 'ping-pong' type adventure, Klingenberg was first traded from Houston to Seattle in 2015. Then in 2016 was traded to Orlando but then Orlando turned around and traded her to Portland (in the deal that involved Alex Morgan). She has appeared in 55 games as a defender for the Thorns and also logged seven years ('11-'17) on the US National Team with 74 appearances and three goals. 

Justin sits down with Klingenberg to talk about everything from the NWSL, to her time on the national team and one of Klingenberg's favorite moments while playing for Team USA. Klingenberg and Justin also talk their shared love for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the food network.

Klingenberg also has her own podcast, "Meghan Klingenberg is your BFF" where she talks about whatever is topical, "whatever that I would be shooting the sh** with my best friend about... that's what I want to talk about on my podcast." One of the many topics brought up as an example is the pay situation in the NWSL. 

Just recently, it got announced that the NWSL would be increasing player salaries and increase allocation money which is used to attract top players:

- Non-allocated player salaries will go up from $46,200 to $50,000 

- Minimum salaries will go up from $16,538 to $20,000

- Overall team salary caps were raised to $650,000 (a nearly 20% increase)

- $300,000 in additional allocation money was given to each team

According to an article by Anne Peterson, the allocation money is used for "...players with contracts larger than the league maximum who are not allocated. Other criteria must also be met, but it may help the league's teams attract high-profile international stars."

You can listen to the entire Bridge podcast below:

Thorns FC's struggles continue in postseason, fall in NWSL Semifinal

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Portland Thorns

Thorns FC's struggles continue in postseason, fall in NWSL Semifinal

 

The Red Stars hadn’t defeated the Thorns since 2013, until today.

The third seeded Portland Thorns FC traveled to the midwest to play the second seed Chicago Red Stars in the semifinals of the NWSL Playoffs. In the win-or-go-home match, the Red Stars scored early off a long run by forward and NSWL’s leading scorer Sam Kerr in the eighth minute. Kerr’s goal proved to be the difference as Thorns FC was shut out in a 1-0 loss.  

At halftime, Thorns FC coach Mark Parsons told the broadcast that his initial lineup “didn’t stretch” the Red Stars like he had anticipated so he substituted midfielder Elizabeth Ball for striker Haley Raso. 

The substitution made a difference since Portland created much better chances in the second half. In the 63rd minute Raso made a run in the box but her shot was saved to keep Thorns FC scoreless. Three minutes later, a Portland free kick was on goal but was also saved by Red Star goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Then, in the 67th minute Parsons substituted off midfielder Andressa Cavalari Machry for midfielder Margaret Purce. But it wasn’t enough as the Thorns could not put one in the net.

Only four points differentiated the teams in the standings, but head to head matchups have been dominated by Portland including two 3-0 victories over the Red Stars at home. But, this game was played on the road where the teams tied 4-4 early in the regular season. 

Portland Thorns FC entered the playoffs in a slump highlighted by a 6-0 demolishing from the hands of the North Carolina Courage in Providence Park. Their poor play ultimately cost them a home semifinal game. By the game's end, Portland had surpassed over 300 minutes of gametime since their last goal. 

The Red Stars will go on to play the NWSL Shield winners, the North Carolina Courage who defeated Seattle Reign FC 4-1 in extra time on Sunday. 

Thorns partner with Social CBD, a first for the NWSL

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Portland Thorns FC

Thorns partner with Social CBD, a first for the NWSL

Portland Thorns FC has partnered with Social CBD in a landmark sponsorship that will set a precedent for other teams to follow. They are the first team in the NWSL to be sponsored by a CBD company. 

Social CBD has a presence in over 10,000 locations nationwide. They aim to lead a global conversation on CBD and professional athletes with this partnership. The company promises product with 0.00% THC.

The President of Business for Thorns FC, Mike Golub had the following to say: 

"We are excited about the opportunity to be the first women's professional sports team to partner with a growing, Portland-based CBD brand, which has become a leader in the industry and look forward to collaborating on more elements in the near future,"

President of Social CBD, Angelo Lombardi also chimed in:

"We are excited to be the exclusive CBD partner of one of the most successful women's professional sports teams in the world. With a product promise of 0.0% THC and setting standards for testing and strength across the industry, Social CBD is honored to be the first and trusted CBD brand to partner with the Portland Thorns FC."

All kinds of intriguing storylines as the Portland Thorns enter the NWSL Playoffs as the #3 seed

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Portland Thorns

All kinds of intriguing storylines as the Portland Thorns enter the NWSL Playoffs as the #3 seed

Tonight's Portland Thorns game didn't mean anything for the playoff standings. With Seattle's draw earlier in the day, Portland locked into the #3 seed (four teams make the NWSL playoffs). 

The third seed means the Thorns play Chicago and avoid North Carolina. This is important for two reasons:

1) They avoid NC, a team that beat them 6-0 just a few weeks ago. It was the worst loss in Thorns history. 

2) If the Thorns win their semifinal game vs. Chicago, and NC beats Seattle, the two will meet in the championship game for the 3rd season in row. Portland won in 2017, NC won in 2018. Let's have the rubber match!

The Portland vs. Chicago match will take place at 12:30pm Pacific Time on October 20th. 

The NWSL Championship Match will be hosted in North Carolina, regardless of which teams advance to the finals, on 10/27 at 12:30pm Pacific Time. 

 

 

How the Portland Thorns' loss shapes up their playoff picture

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Portland Thorns twitter

How the Portland Thorns' loss shapes up their playoff picture

When the Thorns won their home game vs. the Houston Dash last week, it locked them into a spot in the NWSL playoffs. The two-time champions have high expectations for this postseason and securing a playoff berth was only the first step.

If Portland had won today, the #2 seed (and home field advantage in the semifinals) would have still been reachable. With the 2-0 loss, the Thorns have put themselves in a tough spot. The Reign now sit just two points behind the Thorns with one game each remaining. If Seattle wins their final game and Portland loses, the Thorns will drop the #4 seed and have to face the North Carolina Courage, who beat them badly just a few weeks ago by a score of 6-0, in the semifinals. 

The good news is Portland controls their own destiny. Win and they slot in as the #3 seed and take on #2 Chicago. 

A Portland draw opens up more possibilities depending on how Seattle’s final game plays out. Seattle could tie Portland with a win (but Portland loses that tie-breaker on head to head matchups) or Portland could hold on to the #3 seed if Seattle draws or loses. 

The NWSL playoff works as follows:

- It is a single elimination tournament. 

- Only four of the nine teams qualify.

- The top two teams host their first round (semifinal) games.

- If extra time is needed, two 15-minute extra periods are played followed by shootouts if needed. 

The 2019 NWSL Championship Game will be held in North Carolina (who is currently the #1 seeded team) and will be played on October 27th. 

Thorns rebound in a big way against Houston

Thorns rebound in a big way against Houston

How do you rebound from the worst loss in franchise history? By coming out and taking down a pesky Houston Dash team to lock in a trip the playoffs. It was a much-needed three points for Portland, and "much-needed" way be an understatement. After two straight losses, Portland found itself in search of its identity and in fear of falling out of the playoff race. A loss to Houston would have still left the door open for both Utah and Reign FC to jump the Thorns. Not anymore.

The win locks in the playoffs, and also keeps the Thorns in the hunt for a postseason home game. Portland (39pts) now sits just two points behind second-place Chicago (41pts). The Red Stars have just one game remaining, while the Thorns have two. All this means is that Portland controls its own destiny - Win out, and you're guaranteed to finish in second place (North Carolina has already locked in first place).

All of this is just a long way of saying this was a big, big win for the Thorns. 

Smaller score, bigger match:

Last match the Thorns and Courage combined to score six goals - too bad the Courage scored all six of them. On Saturday the Thorns wiped that bad taste out of their mouth and held Houston scoreless. Said Thorns' star Tobin Heath, who happened to score the only goal of the match, "the team came out with a lot of fire and character, and a good response from last week. That was really positive." 

After that loss to North Carolina, Coach Parsons talked about how his squad needed to find its identity. They needed to remember what it meant to be a Thorn. It's something he says his team did on Saturday. "We can build and look to improve our quality and look to improve our strengths, and how we can play a little bit better while taking care of the most important thing, which was fight and work like Thorns. I thought we did that tonight."

Bigger than Soccer:

Prior to Saturday's match, the team sported special "I'm not done yet," t-shirts to support teammate Emily Menges. Menges and her family started the Bobby Menges "'I'm Not Done Yet" Foundation after her younger brother Bobby lost his battle with cancer. The foundation raises funds to help "adolescent patients with serious, long-term, and chronic illnesses transition from pediatrics to adulthood." The Thorns showed their support by wearing these specially designed shirts during warm-ups. Fans can purchase them as well, with 30% of all sales going to support the foundation. Unfortunately, the shirts are sold out right now but may be restocked in the near future. You can find where to purchase them HERE.

Next Up:

The Thorns return to the pitch on Sunday, on the road in Tacoma. This could be one of the tougher matches of the season, with Reign FC likely needing a victory to hold on to hopes of making the playoffs. You don't want to miss it. Kickoff is set for 11:00 am at Cheney Stadium. 

We've never seen the Portland Thorns dominated like this

We've never seen the Portland Thorns dominated like this

Five goals. That was the most goals the Thorns had ever lost by. It happened twice in the 2014 season: Once to the Western New York Flash and once to the Seattle Reign. 

But now those 5-0 losses are just footnotes to the debacle Portland had at Providence Park on Wednesday. The defending champion North Carolina Courage came to town and handed the Thorns a 6-0 smackdown. 

It was the worst loss in the history of the franchise, and for a team that has long been the torchbearer for the league, it was something no one in attendance was used to seeing. 

Coach Parsons simply put it, "we were probably at our worst."

Portland looked sluggish from the get-go. A step behind the Courage at every corner of the pitch. North Carolina outshot the Thorns 22-11, with 17 of those 22 shots coming from inside the box. Adrianna Franch, one of the best goalkeepers in the world, looked nothing like herself. 

No one wearing a Portland kit was playing with fire in their eyes, and Parsons said it all started with how the team approached the match. 

"It starts and ends with me. Tactical and game prep. Through physical, through mental, through emotional, it was probably down there at the very, very worst."

Portland started the week atop the standings but two straight losses saw them fall to second place in the NWSL, just a point above third-place Chicago. How does Parsons plan to get the Thorns back to form?

"Fortunately we have a bit of time before our next game to be able to first identify who we are," said Parsons. "Find that. Remind ourselves of that. We know who we are. Put that right at the top of the list and say this is who we are and this is what we're fighting for, this is what we're working for. On the good nights, and on the bad nights like this, that will guide us. That will be our shining light."

Hopefully, that light shines brighter than ever before. Because following a 6-0 loss, the Thorns are in a pretty dark place. But if you know Coach Parsons and you know the Thorns, this is just a minor bump in the road. 

NEXT UP:
Portland remains at home to host the Houston Dash. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm on Saturday, September 21st at Providence Park. 

Social media reacts to the Portland Thorns' loss to Utah

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Portland Thorns FC

Social media reacts to the Portland Thorns' loss to Utah

The Thorns came into Friday's match atop the NWSL table, with the Utah Royals in third place and looking to make up some ground. Unfortunately for Portland, Utah did just that. Utah's Becky Sauerbrunn scored the game's only goal in the 36', giving the Royals the 1-0 lead and the eventual victory. The loss stings, but the Thorns had enough of a cushion that they are still in first place in the NWSL. Utah's victory allowed them to leapfrog the North Carolina Courage in the standings. 

The Thorns return to action on Wednesday, September 11th to take on North Carolina. In the meantime, fans took to social media to react to tonight's tough loss:

https://twitter.com/hula5150/status/1170158944460972034 https://twitter.com/cmurphy_16/status/1170174742516699137 https://twitter.com/billnoesges/status/1170176131850485763