thorns fc

Thorns fall in Challenge Cup opener

North Carolina's late goal turns into 2-1 victory
Staff Report

A stoppage-time goal by North Carolina boosted the two-time defending league champions to a 2-1 win over the Portland Thorns in the opening match of the NWSL Challenge Cup being played in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lucy Williams headed home a cross from Samantha Mewis in the fourth minute of stoppage time to break a 1-a tie.

Portland scored in the 80th minute when Simone Charley put home short volley after a wild scramble in front of the North Carolina goal moved to ball to her just one foot from the goal.

North Carolina scored the tournament opener in the 75th minute when Debinha headed home a cross by Hallie Mace, taking advantage of a defensive lapse by the Thorns.

The match was the first by a pro league in the U.S. since all pro leagues stopped regular play March 12. The match was also the first to be broadcast on a major network in the eight years of matches.

The tournament continues to July 26, with the final being broadcast on CBS.

Portland's second match is Wednesday against the Chicago Red Stars, at 9:30 a.m. The match will be streamed by CBS All-Access. 



June 26, 2020

The National Women's Soccer League is headed for uncharted waters Saturday with the opening match of the Challenge Cup - namely its media partnership with CBS.

The opening match pitting Portland Thorns FC and the North Carolina Courage is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on CBS, the first time a women's professional soccer match will be broadcast on one of the four major networks.

CBS signed onto a three-year exclusive partnership with the NWSL on March 11, when the league was set to open play on April 11. Later that day, Rudy Gobert of the NBA's Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19 and all major sports leagues as well as NCAA sports began cancelling events. The NWSL is the first league to begin play.

Twitch, the media app owned by Amazon, also agreed to a partnership to be the exclusive international media partner - on March 11. 

CBS will also cover the Challenge Cup final, July 26. All other matches will be streamed on CBS All-Access, a service available for $5.99 monthly. Twitch will provide streaming service for free to fans outside of the U.S. and Canada.

All Cup matches will be played at Zions Bank Stadium in suburban Salt Lake City, with the semifinals and final being played at Rio Tinto Stadium - the home field of the NWSL's Utah Royals FC and MLS side Real Salt Lake - in Sandy, Utah. Since the league began in 2013, it has had media partnerships with Fox Sports, ESPN and Lifetime, but none of those resulted in a regular broadcast match.

CBS is one of a number of partnerships the NWSL signed in the months following the U.S. win in the World Cup beginning with Budweiser in July.

COVID-19 has not diminished partnership interest in the league, which announced Google as one today. Google plans to use its app Google Meet to provide virtual cheering sections for Challenge Cup matches. Verizon signed on in late May, and Procter and Gamble agreed to a partnership for its Secret brand in winter as well.

Nutritional supplement company Thorne continues to be a partner as does Nike.

Nike extended its partnership through 2022. 



May 24

The Portland Thorns FC announced their 26-player roster Tuesday in advance of the NWSL Challenge Cup that begins Saturday, and most of the regular names were on the list.

Christine Sinclair, Lindsey Horan, Adrianna Franch, Becky Sauerbrunn - all members of the US National Team - are set to play, as is international star Rocky Rodriguez of Costa Ria.

One name not on the list is US National Team star Tobin Heath, who decided not to play.

The team's top two draft picks: forwards Sophia Smith and Morgan Weaver, will play their first matches when the Thorns take on North Carolina at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the opening match of the month-long tournament.

Saturday's match is set to be televised by CBS, one of two matches the network is scheduled to broadcast. The other is the final, July 26.

All matches will be played at Zions Bank Stadium in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah, or Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The semifinals and final are the matches set for Rio Tinto, the home of both NWSL side Utah Royals and Major League Soccer side Real Salt Lake.

Eight of the nine NWSL teams have entered into the tournament. Orlando withdrew Monday citing at least 10 players or staffers who've tested positive for COVID-19. The NWSL announced one player or staff member had tested positive for the virus last week at the practice facility where teams were practicing next to Zions Bank Stadium, but no more information was available from the league, and preparations were not affected.

Portland has not announced any positive tests among its players or staff.

2020 Thorns FC NWSL Challenge Cup roster
Goalkeepers (3): Bella Bixby, Britt Eckerstrom, Adrianna Franch (FED-USA)

Defenders (9): Kelli Hubly, Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Menges, Meaghan Nally (CDP), Madison Pogarch, Katherine Reynolds, Becky Sauerbrunn (FED-USA), Autumn Smithers, Christen Westphal

Midfielders (6): Celeste Boureille, Lindsey Horan (FED-USA), Emily OgleRocky Rodríguez (INTL), Angela Salem, Gabby Seiler

Forwards (7): Simone Charley, Marissa Everett, Tyler Lussi, Anika Rodriguez, Christine Sinclair (FED-CAN), Sophia Smith (CDP), Morgan Weaver (CDP)

CDP – 2020 NWSL College Draft pick
FED – Federation Player
INTL – International Player


Thorns, NWSL set to boldly go where no league has gone before - this summer ... sort of

Mon, 06/22/2020 - 12:02pm
Cliff Pfenning
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It’s almost “go” time for the return of pro team sports in America with the National Women’s Soccer League set to kick off Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Fittingly, the Portland Thorns will be involved in the opening match, putting the league’s most successful franchise up against the North Carolina Courage - the league’s second-most successful franchise. And, it will be televised on CBS - the actual network and not a streaming service. It’s the only match of the month-long tournament scheduled for CBS until the final, July 26. All other matches will be streamed on CBS All-Access ($5.99/month) as well as Twitch - for fans outside the U.S. and Canada.

The NWSL is the first league to begin play, albeit in a tournament form, since all leagues stopped the evening of March 11 due to fears from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NBA and MLS are scheduled to return to some form of play in July, but the NWSL is the first to return to actual physical contact just as European soccer leagues have done in the past month. 

The return comes at a unique time as the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing in many states, including Utah. All the matches will be played at the 5,000-seat Zions Bank Stadium, located in suburban Salt Lake City, with the semifinals and final at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The tournament hit an unexpected snag when Orlando removed itself after more than a dozen players and staff members tested positive. The league, released a modified schedule for the remaining eight teams Tuesday.

The tournament has a number of unique elements such as there’s no extra time in any match and no draws. Each match will have a winner, decided on penalty kicks if it ends in a tie after 90 minutes

Significant testing, social distancing and no on-site fans are part of the plan for the tournament. I guess.

What’s puzzling about the upcoming tournament is the information available about it from the NWSL - there basically isn’t any other than what’s been published three weeks ago about it happening and the schedule and a tiny bit on social media. There’s more information available on regular media and social media about Major League Baseball not playing because they’re fighting about money than there is about the NWSL kicking off in five days.

There’s a lot of stress from other leagues - MLS and NBA - about what the reality of actual games is going to be with all the testing involved. And, with positive tests being reported regularly, the thought that the leagues might not actually get into gear is still out there. But not with the NWSL.

Women’s soccer is on the rise following the U.S. World Cup win last summer. The NWSL has a number of new sponsors, including Budweiser and CBS. There’s a new owner in Seattle (French club Olympique took on that role and renamed the team OL Reign), and a new club in Louisville, Ky., is set to join the league next year.

You have to dig across the Internet to get this info, though. For something of a trending league, this should be front and center to sports fans. 

Even the Thorns, the league’s standout franchise, have not presented any information about the team’s preparation for Saturday’s opener on its own website. How are the players preparing, as well as their thoughts on the dangers that might be involved? One player on one of the nine teams tested positive last week, but the league released no information other than that - no name or team, just that it happened. Did that change any thoughts among the other players on playing? These stories just aren’t anywhere to be read.

It’s almost as if the league were hedging its commitment to the tournament being played, especially with the coronavirus making a surge in the last two weeks.

This is a key moment for the league, its players and women’s soccer. The NWSL is a league of entertainers, as sports is entertainment. And, if it isn’t playing, it’s not entertaining, so the players aren’t working.  And with women’s soccer already starting in the hole of people just not caring other than hardcore soccer fans (it’s barely recogmnized by ESPN), the players are pretty much tied into making the league tournament happen regardless of whatever fear they might have from participating. 

The NWSL has to play this tournament sort of like folks working at Fred Meyer have to stock shelves - frontline workers for sports entertainment.

So. 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Hopefully, the league will make a big deal about it in the next few days, because it really is a big deal for team sports in America.





Seattle rains on Thorns 5-0

Portland remains in a playoff spot with three matches left
July 27, 2014

SEATTLE - The Portland Thorns took a big league thumping from Northwest rival Seattle, but it didn't disrupt the team's regular-season mission of reaching the playoffs.

Portland conceeded three goals over the final 45 minutes in a 5-0 loss against Seattle Reign FC at Moda Health Pitch at Memorial Stadium in front of 5,597 fans on Sunday afternoon.

Portland (8-7-6, 30 pts) remains in third place in the National Women’s Soccer League standings with a two-point advantage on both the Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars (28pts) with three matches remaining on the 2014 regular-season schedule. The top four teams qualify for the NWSL playoffs.

Reign FC (14-1-4, 46 pts) scored the opening goal in the fourth minute of the match. Seattle quickly switched the point of attack to find forward Sydney Leroux making a run down the left side into the penalty box. Leroux dribbled to the end line before cutting it back with a shot to the near post that snuck under Thorns FC goalkeeper Nadine Angerer.

Portland pressed in search of an early equalizer and came close in the 19th minute when Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo mishandled the ball in the box with pressure coming from forward Alex Morgan. Forward Christine Sinclair was there to collect the loose ball in the box, cutting around the diving Solo, but was unable to convert as a Seattle defender stepped in front to clear Sinclair’s attempt away at the goal line.

Angerer kept the match close with a big save on forward Nahomi Kawasumi from point blank range in the 35th minute after an initial shot by Leroux hit the crossbar.

Seattle doubled its lead five minutes before halftime as midfielder Kim Little delivered a cross from the left for Kawasumi, who connected with the header near the penalty spot.

Trailing 2-0, Portland was unable to rally from the deficit as Reign FC increased its lead to 3-0 four minutes into the second half. Little picked out Kawasumi in the box as she hit the ball off the bounce with the inside of her foot back towards the left post for the finish. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe headed in Kawasumi’s cross from the right flank at the back post in the 57th minute, while Little tallied Seattle’s fifth goal in stoppage time, dribbling into the box and finishing from close range.

Thorns FC had two chances late in the match. Midfielder Verónica Boquete saw her header hit off the crossbar in the 75th minute, while defender Nikki Marshall’s header from close range missed just high in the 76th minute.

Portland returns to the Rose City to play host to the Houston Dash on Sunday at Providence Park. Sunday’s nationally televised match, sponsored by Providence Health & Services, will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (Pacific).


Thorns begin prep for playoffs

Defending NWSL champs are still battling to reach third place
July 30, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

With just three games left in the regular season, the Portland Thorns are anything but a playoff favorite as they were a season ago. The defending NWSL champions might not qualify for the playoffs to start, then will likely be a significant underdog to win two games and reclaim their championship trophy.

Sunday is a key date for the team's playoff hopes as the Thorns play host to Houston at Providence Park. The game is set for a 7 p.m. start and will be televised by ESPN2.

Portland enters the game at 8-7-6, 30 points, and is in fourth place in the nine-team league. With three weekends remaining in the season, they're in great shape to qualify for the four-team playoffs as they're two points ahead of Chicago, which has a tougher remaining schedule.

The Thorns will face the bottom two teams in the league, but close the season against Seattle, which has already clinched the top record in the league. Seattle obliterated Portland 5-0 in their most recent match Sunday, and won the first meeting 1-0, May 10.

Following Sunday's match with Houston (5-11-3, 18 points), Portland plays at Boston (4-13-2, 14 points), Aug. 10. The season closes at home against Seattle (15-1-4, 49 points), Aug. 17.

The league playoffs will be played the final two weekends of August, with the final on Aug. 31.

Currently, the Thorns are in fourth place, which would send them to Seattle for the semifinals, but they're just one point behind third-place Washington (9-8-4, 31 points). The Spirit have three games remaining, one of which is also against Seattle. Another is against Chicago, which is fighting to finish in the top four.

Last season, Portland tied for the top spot in the league with at 11-6-5, 38 points, in 22 games, then beat Kansas City and Western New York in the league playoffs. If it reaches the playoffs again, Portland would be the lone team to play in the playoff through the first two years of the league's history.



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