Sophia Smith’s fairytale, “surreal” debut for the Portland Thorns


It took all of three touches for Sophia Smith to make her professional NWSL impact felt on the pitch.

On her third touch and in her third minute, Smith’s header off a beautiful pass from Meghan Klingenberg found the back of the net and the Portland Thorns took a 2-0 lead over visiting Utah Roylas FC.

After scoring a goal, it's so real. I’m still trying to kind of process it. But it's so exciting.

Sophia Smith after scoring her first professional goal

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Smith was selected No. 1 overall by the Thorns in the 2020 NWSL Draft. The Stanford prodigy helped lead the Cardinal to a 2019 National Championship, was a two-time Pac-12 Champion (2018,2019), and has been called up to the full United States National Team among several other accolades. In 2019, she scored 17 goals and nine assists. Smith is used to the big stage and has spent time with the United States U14, U15 U17, U18, U19, U20, and U23 national teams.

Smith was dealing with a looming knee injury throughout Portland’s run in the 2020 Challenge Cup in Utah in late July - the first NWSL action in 2020 due to the ongoing global pandemic. 

Her first step onto the pitch in a Thorns uniform was definitely memorable.

“Injuries are hard in so many ways,” Smith said, having endured a major injury during her time at Stanford. “I've had to learn to be patient when I'm super close to being able to play but I'm just not quite there yet…


I feel really good about where I am now, so I'm just excited to keep playing and keep growing, hopefully get more and more minutes in each game. The positive out of it besides a good team win is I feel good and I feel healthy.

Sophia Smith on her Thorns debut

A healthy Smith has a bright future ahead in Portland. 

Richard Farley of thinks so too:

“Smith is expected to be a special talent - somebody who can have a huge impact at both the club and international levels. With her back on the field, Portland fans can start thinking about what that means for the 2021 Thorns.”

Next up, the Thorns continue this Fall Series against the OL Reign on September 30.