Portland Thorns beat Kansas City Current at NWSL championship

After a goal by the Thorns’ Sophia Smith, The Current scored an own goal that turned out to be the final point of the game.

WASHINGTON — Sophia Smith, the MVP of the season, scored early and the Portland Thorns won their third National Women’s Soccer League championship with a 2-0 win over Kansas City Current on Saturday night.

The Thorns also won NWSL championships in 2013, the league’s inaugural season, and again in 2017. The three titles are the most for any team in the league.

The stream had a costly turnover before Smith went down the field, maneuvering around goalkeeper Adrianna Franch and deftly scoring in the fourth minute.

Smith almost scored another goal in the 27th minute, but her shot went just wide. Smith is the second MVP recipient to score in the championship game, joining Lynn Williams for North Carolina in 2016. At 22, she is also the youngest player to score in a league final.

RELATED: Thorns fans pack up Providence Park to watch team advance to championship game

Smith was honored as MVP earlier this week after scoring a club record 14 goals in the regular season.

An own goal by Kansas City’s Addisyn Merrick doubled Portland’s lead in the 56th minute. Moments later Morgan Weaver had a shot from long range but Franch was able to put his hands on it before it hit the bar and sped away.

Audi Field was almost sold out for the game, which was broadcast on network TV for the first time in prime time.

The NWSL was rocked this month by an investigation that revealed systematic abuse and wrongdoing that involved multiple teams, coaches and victims.

The investigation, led by former acting US Attorney General Sally Yates, was launched last year after two former players made allegations of harassment and sexual assault brought against former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley for a decade.

Riley, who was fired, denied the allegations. He was one of five coaches in the league to be fired or resigned over the past year following allegations of misconduct.

The Yates report details how the Thorns mishandled complaints about Riley when he coached the team in 2014-15. Following the report, the Thorns fired two team leaders. But some fans have urged owner Merritt Paulson to sell both Major League Soccer’s Thorns and Portland Timbers.

Some fans in Audi Field held a sign that read: “Support The Players”.

RELATED: Timbers CEO Thorns resigns amid investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct

The Thorns advanced to the championship game last Sunday with a 2-1 win over the San Diego Wave. Crystal Dunn scored the win in added time.

The Current earned their spot with a 2-0 win over top seed OL Reign, surprising this year’s supporters Shield winners.

The Current began playing as an expansion team in 2021, with many of its players coming from the defunct Utah Royals. Last season they finished last in the league.

The Washington Spirit won the NWSL Championship last year.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/soccer/thorns-win-beat-current-nwsl-championship/283-f50d9166-759e-403e-a969-a8f9ed115947 Portland Thorns beat Kansas City Current at NWSL championship

Emma Bowman

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