Quick Recap: Portland Thorns Bring Home the Bacon

Brett Carlsen

In a tough road game, the Thorns defeat the Flash 2-0 to claim the first ever NWSL title.

The commentators were hitting you with the stats right from the get-go: the Western New York Flash hadn't lost at home since April. They hadn't lost since July. They'd been at home their last five games and were well rested. The Flash were basically so awesome that surely the Portland Thorns had little chance of winning, right? The Thorns had missed that memo.

Contrary to the commentators' prediction that the game would be decided in the midfield, the first half was a very open, end-to-end 45 minutes of soccer. Set pieces looked like they could play an important role for either team.

It just so happened that a set piece was where the Thorns found their opener, with a direct free kick by Tobin Heath that made angels sing. Even a pretty impressive flying leap across the goal by Adrianna Franch couldn't keep Heath's shot from slipping in right under the cross bar. They went into the half happily, though precariously, in the lead.

In the 49th and 56th minutes, Kat Williamson earned a pair of yellows, at least one of which almost certainly would not have been a yellow if the contact had been made on anyone other than Abby Wambach.

It would be nice to be able to point to that elliptical number on the Flash's side of the scoreboard and say that we dominated, but in truth, the Thorns had to weather one heck of a storm for much of the second half. The Flash created many chances and won a number of free kicks. They were held scoreless only by some incredible saves by Karina LeBlanc and fierce defending by the back line, especially Tina Ellertson, who came on for Heath following the red card to Williamson.

The Thorns finally let their fans breathe a collective sigh of relief in stoppage time, when 71st-minute sub Alex Morgan got the ball off a throw-in and found Christine Sinclair flying up the middle of the pitch. With tons of space, Sinclair calmly dribbled the ball into the box and slotted in past Franch.

That would do it for the Thorns. The final whistle blew just moments later and the Thorns received their medals and a trophy that, now that you think about it, doesn't really seem so ugly anymore.

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