Portland Thorns

Return of Michelle Betos to make Thorns even better

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Return of Michelle Betos to make Thorns even better

Posted by John Stupak 

On Sunday against the Seattle Reign, the Portland Thorns were without a plethora of players due to international commitments. Going up against an archrival wasn’t great timing for a slew of quality players to be missing, but the Thorns did get back one key component to their roster: Michelle Betos. Wait, that’s 2015 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year Michelle Betos to you.

Betos’ return from a right shoulder nerve injury came at just the right time and will only make the Thorns that much better for the rest of the season, assuming her shoulder holds up the rest of the year. And, if the Thorns offense can’t always find a way to produce goals, as it failed to do in a 0-0 draw against the Reign, they can always call upon Betos to step up in that department as well.

Betos was greeted with the loudest cheers from the 18,000-plus in attendance when her name was announced during the starting lineups and she instantly reminded fans of why she won the coveted goalkeeper award. On her first game back since week two, she was everywhere around the box, making a host of saves while playing through some obvious discomfort at times in her right shoulder, her two prolonged pauses during the game as she tended to her shoulder was enough to give fans a reason to squirm in their seats. She played thought it, however, and was a big reason why the Thorns were still able to gain a point despite the offense being nearly non-existent without the likes of assist leader Tobin Heath and leading goal scorer Lindsey Horan. Betos showcased everything that has made her successful in every level of the game she has been a part of while flying completely under the radar for most of her career.

The road has not been a short one for Betos, however, to finally land where she is today. Born in Queens, New York, she attended the University of Georgia (2006-2009) where she ranks third all-time in saves and second all-time in shutouts and wins. Not being a NWSL before 2013, she traveled frequently through the years since 2009. From playing in her home state of New York for a semi-professional team, to Cyprus for a Champions League squad, to Seattle when the NWSL formed and finally to Portland (and Sydney, Australia); Betos has traveled a great many miles, literally and figuratively, to get where she is today.

Before 2015, Betos was just good enough to be a backup to some of the best goalkeepers in the game, playing behind Hope Solo when she was with the Seattle Reign and then former Thorns keeper Nadine Angerer. Last year, the first season after Angerer retired, she proved she was good enough to deserve her own backup, earning her keep as a starter while setting career highs in minutes, wins, saves, shutouts, and SportsCenter top ten plays. Hopefully, she has found a home of sorts here in the Rose City. She has put her stamp on this organization after just one, albeit really good, year.

The Thorns will need Betos to be in top form for their next game against the Chicago Red Stars, the top team in the league, on the road. Portland also needs to show they can win consistently away from home. While a 1-0-3 start away from Providence Park is a measurable improvement from last year, they still need to be better in order to be seen as an elite team in the NWSL. They can take a huge step in gunning for that top spot in the standings with a win or draw against the Red Stars on June 12. With Betos back protecting the goal and with Heath, Horan, and the rest of the team scheduled to be back as well (hopefully), we should finally see this Thorns team at full strength.

Thrilling stoppage time goal propels Thorns over Orlando while Christine Sinclair makes history

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Portland Thorns Twitter

Thrilling stoppage time goal propels Thorns over Orlando while Christine Sinclair makes history

It looked as though the Portland Thorns were going to let one slip away when Orlando scored the equalizer in the 90th minute at Providence Park on Sunday. 

Tyler Lussi would have none of that. The Thorns forward knocked in the go-ahead goal for the win in the fourth minute of stoppage time for a thrilling win in front the nearly 19,000 fans in attendance. 

Not to be overlooked following the amazing comeback win, Christine Sinclair became just the fourth player in the history of the NWSL to log 10,000 minutes for the same team. Sinclair has played for the Thorns since 2013!

More to come on the Portland Thorns throughout the summer as their season continues and their World Cup teammates rejoin them!

 

It took 9 days for Marissa Everett to make her mark in Portland Thorns history

It took 9 days for Marissa Everett to make her mark in Portland Thorns history

While the USWNT is abroad eating macaroons, escargot, visiting the Eiffel Tower, oh and dominating on the world’s biggest soccer stage at the World Cup in France, the NWSL moves along in the regular season. 

For the Portland Thorns, that means losing Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Adrianna Franch and Emily Sonnett to the big stage. But in their absence, there is opportunity for others to step up. One of those players chomping at the bit, working hard and paying her dues is former Oregon Ducks soccer stud Marissa Everett.

It took just nine days for Everett to make her mark in Thorns history.

“It was unbelievable. I literally didn’t know what to do,” says Everett after watching the ball hit the back of the net. “I didn’t think the opportunity was going to come. I knew I was going to try my best when I came in but just took the opportunity… and celebrate with my team.”

Everett has always been a west coast girl. From growing up in California, to playing for her dream school the University of Oregon, and when the time came for her professional career, she couldn’t be happier playing in Portland, Oregon. 

“I’ve always watched the Thorns growing up and I knew they were a team with such a passion for the game,” says Everett. “I wanted to be apart of something like that. To have the opportunity to do that straight out of college is unbelievable.”

There is no denying that Portland is one of the premier soccer cities in the country. Rowdy fanbase, beautiful new stadium expansion, and a city that supports women’s sports to the fullest. 17,000+ fans showed up to the Thorns’ home opener in the newly renovated Providence Park. 

On Sunday, June 2 and in front of a near sellout crowd, Everett made her name known. 

Scoring goals is one thing. Scoring 13 in one match is uncanny. 13-0 isn’t your typical soccer score. In the case of the USWNT at the World Cup, it was a statement, an utter dominance, and resulted in the U.S. getting some flack both in running the score up and continuing to celebrate. 

But the people who are saying this act is disrespectful aren’t wearing cleats or wearing red, white, and blue.

“I think in a tournament this big, you have to compete to your greatest level. If that’s scoring 13 goals, be happy about it,” says Everett. 

Just imagine running through warm up lines, shooting drills, playing keep away, and someone yells in your direction “Yes, ball!” and that person is Tobin Heath. If you think players, like Everett, who are just coming into the league don’t get starstruck, think again. 

Everett has the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the game.

“Their presence on the ball is just super calming,” easy Everett. “I’m envious of that. I could freak out a bit sometimes when I’m out there.”

The Portland Thorns (4-4-1) currently stand in third in the NWSL rankings and next face Houston on Saturday, June 29.

World Cup breakdown: USWNT scored A LOT. (including one from Thorns' Lindsey Horan)

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World Cup breakdown: USWNT scored A LOT. (including one from Thorns' Lindsey Horan)

Lindsey Horan continues to make history wherever she goes. 

The 25-year-old midfielder from Golden, Colorado scored her first goal of her USWNT career in the team’s first game of the 2019 Women’s World Cup. 

This isn’t the first time Horan has made history: she became the first female soccer player to skip college and turn professional (Paris Saint-Germain in Paris, France).  

According to her bio on the U.S. Women’s National Team website, Horan explains, “One of the main reasons I made the choice I did was to be uncomfortable—I thought I’d get to my goal quicker that alternate route. I wanted to risk everything to make the National Team.”

Language barriers, missing her mom, you name it. The four years abroad were tough, but it made Horan tougher. 

[WATCH this video of her "23 Stories" on the USWNT website]

She joined the Thorns in 2016 and started all 15 games in her first season.

In 2015, Horan missed the USWNT roster. An absolute heart-breaker. But watching from the stands fueled a fire insider her and an undeniable urge to make the team.

And now, in 2019 and back in the country where her professional career kicked off, Horan finds herself representing the United States in the women’s World Cup and scoring her first goal in red, white, and blue. 

And it may just be a tad sweeter that the assist came from her Thorns teammate Tobin Heath.

Thorns demolish Red Stars for first win in new Providence Park

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Chris Burkhardt

Thorns demolish Red Stars for first win in new Providence Park

For the second day in a row, the newly renovated Providence Park held a home opener. On Saturday night it was the Portland Timbers, and on Sunday it was time for the Portland Thorns to take center stage. 

Despite missing nine players to the FIFA Women's World Cup, the Thorns still managed to put on a show. 

In her first start of the season, Midge Purce did not disappoint. Just three minutes into action Purce had a wide open shot at the net but nailed the crossbar. Despite the miss, you could tell she was in great form and she showed it the rest of way.

Purce would score twice in the first half, and if not for an offsides call, she would have easily scored a third. Both of Purce's goals came via great assists from Simone Charley. The dynamic Thorns duo was a sight to behold on Sunday, leading the home town team to an impressive victory over the red stars. 

Final Score: Portland Thorns 3 - Chicago Red Stars 0

No Place Like Home: 

After starting the season with six straight road matches, the Thorns finally returned to Portland to the roar of 19,461 fans - A new attendance record for a Thorns' home opener.

Said head coach Mark Parsons, "I didn’t dream about this because I didn’t think it was possible when I got into coaching. I’m proud of what this city, club, community does to continue to set the standard to support female athletes, the best players in the world."

Added Purce, "It was one of the most wonderful experiences I think that a soccer player can have and it was beautiful to see all that support."

"It was just a surreal moment, honestly, just being out here on the field and just having so many supporters out there, like words can't describe like how much that means," said Simon Charley. "To just be on the field and having them just give us energy and pick us up when we're down."

The Thorns are good anywhere they play, but put nearly 20,000 supporters behind them and they can be unstoppable.  
 
The New Dynamic Duo:

Speaking of Purce and Charley - they don't often play together, but you wouldn't know that by watching Sunday's match. The two looked like they had a decade of chemistry together, it was truly fun to watch.

Purce said of the connection with Charley, "that was honestly the first time I've played major minutes with Simone ever. And it was, I think the both of us were like 'oh this thing, this is working.' And I think when you have, you know, 11 people working really, really hard, it makes it easier on any partnership."

Talking to the media, Charley gave a lot of credit for the connection to Purce. "We talked about it this week in practice, just working on working off of each other and just building that relationship. Midge is a phenomenal communicator and [has been] telling me where I need to go and just working together and so yeah, shout out to her"

Some Love for the Ducks:
Former Oregon Duck Marissa Everett subbed in for Charley in the 78th minute. Seven minutes later she scored the first goal of her professional career.

Parsons said of Everett, "I thought the goal summed up what she’s about. She’s got great movement and she reads the game. You give her a chance to put the ball in the back of the net and she showed it against Sky Blue, first movement to drop the shoulder and then burst and almost apart from a great save. It’s great and you look at the undrafted players that come into this environment and look for an opportunity to develop and put their heads down."

She nearly had a brace to rival Purce's, but he put a shot just a little wide right in stoppage time. She looked great off the bench, and it was a great showing for the former Oregon star.

Next Up:

The Thorns return to action on the road on Saturday, June 15 against the North Carolina Courage. Kickoff is set for 4:45 p.m.
 

The Thorns are 2017 NWSL Champions

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Portland Thorns FC

The Thorns are 2017 NWSL Champions

The Portland Thorns FC have brought another championship back to Rose City.

With their 1-0 victory over the North Carolina Courage, the Thorns have reclaimed their title as National Women’s Soccer League champions. The winning goal by midfielder Lindsey Horan in the 50th minute sealed the deal for the Thorns, taking home their second NWSL title in five years.

Orlando City Stadium saw an ugly and physically brutal 90 minutes this Saturday. Early hard fouls on both teams set the tone for a scrappy and choppy match. The Thorns were given two yellow cards in the first half and their overall aggressive play led to the Courage calling for two substitutions in the first 39 minutes due to injuries. 

Despite this setback, North Carolina offensively dominated the match with 16 shots on goal, including a crossbar shot from Courage midfielder Sam Mewis in the 14th minute. Portland lost the numbers game with only four shots on goal, but luckily one got in. Off a free kick at about midfield, Horan used her powerful right foot from just outside the the six yard box to get the ball in the back of the net. She was later named the match’s MVP.

This win also poses as the end of an era for Thorns players Amandine Henry and Nadia Nadim as they are leaving the NWSL to compete in Europe. Henry will join Olympique Lyon in the D1 Feminine League in France, while Nadim will compete in the FA Women’s Super League in England with Manchester City. Both players have been with Portland for two seasons and have cited financial reasons for their departure. 

There will be a NWSL Championship rally this Sunday, Oct. 15, at Providence Park around 7 pm after the Timbers game. 

The Thorns seek revenge in this weekend's NWSL Championship

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The Thorns seek revenge in this weekend's NWSL Championship

By JOHN STUPAK
The Portland Thorns are playing for the NWSL Championship tomorrow.

For the first time since 2013, the Thorns will be playing for all the marbles against this year’s regular season Shield winners, the North Carolina Courage.

Portland dispatched the Orlando Pride on October 7, 4-1, to move on to the final test of the season in what has been a four-year mission to get back to the mountain top.

The Thorns will be facing a team that, minus the name, is almost exactly the same team that ousted Portland in last year’s playoffs. The North Carolina Courage were the Western New York Flash in 2016 before changing ownership and location.

It was Lynn Williams who broke Portland’s heart last year, scoring two goals in overtime that ousted the Thorns. The Flash eventually won the title and now seek to become repeat champions.

Williams will back on the field for the Courage and the Thorns will have to find some way to contain her, not an easy task given how explosive a scorer she has proven to be. Portland, however, has a top-notch defense behind defender Meghan Klingenberg and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

The Thorns should have every body and weapon available to them, sporting one of the deepest teams in the league. During last week’s semi-final game, Allie Long, Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Nadia Nadim all came off the bench for Portland, something that would seem unfathomable for other teams in a playoff game, given the kind of talent those players possess.

The key to victory for the Thorns is to get out to a solid start and jump ahead. The Thorns are at their best when they are aggressive and smell blood. However, they have been known for the occasional slow starts and lapses in play that have cost them victories in the past. If Portland jumps ahead early and keeps the pressure on, it will be awfully difficult for the Courage to counter an equal attack.

The Thorns couldn’t have asked for a better matchup to wipe away the disappointment of last October. What better way to exercise the ghosts of 2016 than to cast out the very demons responsible for haunting you since the end of last year.

On a more downbeat note, this will also be the last game for both Nadia Nadim and Amandine Henry, both of whom will be playing in Europe next year. What a fitting farewell a NWSL title would be for those two players who have played like champions during their time in Portland.

So get out your Thorns scarves, your good luck charms, and all the good vibes you can send towards Orlando. Take a break from all the politics and downer news in the world and settle in for what should be a fantastic match on Saturday afternoon. If the Thorns compete at the level they are capable of playing, then expect another championship in Soccer City, USA this weekend.

NWSL Championship Game

Portland Thorns vs. North Carolina Courage
1:30pm on the Lifetime channel.

Thorns headed back to NWSL Championship

Thorns headed back to NWSL Championship

The Portland Thorns FC will face the North Carolina Courage in the National Women’s Soccer League Championship this Saturday, Oct. 14, at Orlando City Stadium.

The Thorns earned a spot in the finals after defeating the Orlando Pride over the weekend. Goals by Amadine Henry, Emily Sonnett, Hayley Raso, and Christine Sinclair helped the Thorns reach a 4-1 victory over the Alex Morgan and Marta led Orlando team.

This is the Thorns’ fourth time in the NWSL postseason, making their second finals appearance. They won the inaugural NWSL Championship back in 2013.

What is bound to be an exciting game is also one full of history. Prior to relocating and rebranding, the Courage competed in the NWSL as the Western New York Flash for four seasons. The Thorns defeated the Flash in the inaugural championship in 2013 and lost to them in the semi-finals last season. The Thorns and the Courage have a 1-1-0 record this season.

This is also the fifth season of the NWSL, marking it as the longest running professional women’s soccer league in the US.

The Thorns finished second overall in the 10-team league with a record of 14-5-5. Led by all-time leading scorer and Portland Pilots legend Sinclair, the Thorns hope to take the championship crown for the second time on Saturday in Orlando.

Kick-off is at 1:30 p.m. PT (4:30 ET) and can be watched live on Lifetime.

Sinclair’s brace helps put an end to Portland’s two-game skid

Sinclair’s brace helps put an end to Portland’s two-game skid

Portland, OR – The Portland Thorns came into Wednesday’s matchup in dire need of a victory. Portland had lost two matches in a row, including a 3-1 loss at home to Sky Blue FC on June 17. Losses in Providence Park just don’t happen. Including the loss to Sky Blue, the Thorns came in with am impressive home record of 13-2-3 since the start of the 2016 season and looked to add another on to the win column with FC Kansas City in town.

FC Kansas City came in winless in its previous three matches (0-1-2), and with an overall road record of 1-3-1. For a team that is struggling, and is poor on the road to boot, Providence Park is the last place you want to be.

Portland fed off the home crowd, as is usual, and dominated from the start. Any danger FCKC posed was because the Thorns made little mental errors, but nothing large enough to bite them. Portland had the occasional misplayed ball here, the occasional poor pass there, but largely looked to be playing a game of cat and mouse.

Before Kansas City could really get in any kind of groove they found themselves playing from behind.

Just fifteen minutes into the match Allie Long put a shot on goal from about 10-yards out. Her shot was blocked, but it bounced off the post and right to the feet of a wide-open Christine Sinclair. The Captain did what she does best, and put the Thorns up 1-0.

From that point on it never felt like much of a match. The question wasn’t if the Thorns would win, it was how many goals would they score before the final whistle?

The answer: Three

Hayley Raso added a goal in the in the 32’, and Sinclair added another goal in the 75’.

This was a great bounce back game for Portland, and much needed as their next two matches will be on the road.

FINAL SCORE: Portland Thorns 3 – FC Kansas City 0

Notes: Hayley Raso scored the first goal of her NWSL career. A beautiful shot from beyond the right side of the box that curled around the defense and just over the hand of the goalkeeper. She joked postgame, calling the shot “lucky” but it was one of the more impressive goals I have seen. Sinclair looked to score her second goal of the match in the 71', but a controversial handball call negated it. She got her revenge four minutes later when she scored the team's third goal of the game.

Next Up: Portland travels up north to take on rival Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, July 1. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM at Memorial Stadium.

Sky Blue ends Portland's six-game unbeaten streak

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Sky Blue ends Portland's six-game unbeaten streak

Generally speaking thirty seconds isn’t a lot of time, but on Saturday it was all Sky Blue FC needed to take control vs. Portland.  Sky Blue got the ball to start the match and went right down the field to score the opening goal less than a minute into play.

The goal happened so fast I was still in the middle of the obligatory “and we are underway” tweet. Even if you weren’t paying attention you knew a goal had been scored thanks to the collective gasp of thousands of Thorns fans that had just been punched in the gut.

But this is the Portland Thorns: A team unbeaten in its previous six matchups (3-0-3) and a team with a 13-1-3 record over its last 17 home games. Those two facts, coupled with the fact that this team is always a threat to score, made it feel like the equalizer was coming at any moment. Patient as the Thorns faithful were, that equalizer never came.

Finding that game-tying goal became even harder in the 70’ when Sky Blue’s Samantha Kerr broke away from the pack just past midfield and the only thing between her and the net was Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. Kerr shot the ball by a diving Franch and netted Sky Blue’s second goal of the match.

It looked like Portland had life, scoring a goal just seconds later, but an offside call would make sure the score remained 2-0 in favor of Sky Blue.

Portland tried as hard as it could as time ticked away, but as the old cliché goes, it was too little, too late.

Final Score: Portland Thorns1 – Sky Blue FC 3.

Next Up: Portland heads to the east coast to take on the Washington Spirit. Kickoff is set for 4:00 PM at Maryland Soccerplex.