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Portland Thorns to host San Diego Wave FC in NWSL Semifinal

A portion of ticket sales will be donated to local charities selected by Thorns players.

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NWSL: Chicago Red Stars at Portland Thorns FC Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

After waiting through an international break and a bye week, the Portland Thorns finally know their opponent for the next round of the NWSL playoffs. Portland will host San Diego Wave FC at Providence Park on October 23 at 2 p.m. PT in the first semifinal match of the NWSL playoffs. The winner will advance to the NWSL Championship game, set for Saturday October 29 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.

The Wave hosted the Chicago Red Stars in their opening match, and after falling behind in the opening ten minutes fought back to equalize late and grab a winner from Alex Morgan in extra time. It was a game in which the Wave broke the all-time NWSL playoff attendance record— which had ironically been set just a few hours earlier by the Houston Dash in their home playoff game against the Kansas City Current.

A portion of the ticket sales for Sunday’s match will be donated to local charities which have been selected by Portland Thorns players. The move comes after it was announced that Thorns and Timbers CEO & owner Merritt Paulson was stepping down from his role as chief executive officer — but not selling either team, as of this now.

The move came in the wake of the explosive Sally Yates report into alleged abuse within women’s soccer and the NWSL, which heavily implicated the decisions made by the executive team of the Thorns. The fallout from the report has already led to Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson and Timbers and Thorns President of Business Mike Golub being fired.

Due to the fact that Paulson still owns the Thorns and would therefore benefit financially from ticket sales, some fans have been questioning whether to purchase tickets to the game.

In their comments over the past two weeks Thorns players have made note of the above dynamic, and have shared their desire in various forms for fans to still show up to the game. Thorns star forward Sophia Smith, in a press conference with the U.S. Women’s National Team, shared that, “[W]e would still really like people to show up and support us because at the end of the day, even through all of this, we still have to step on the field and perform and play soccer.”

Smith went on to share, “[W]e want to do that in front of our fans because that’s one of the positive things we have left in Portland and something that we always look forward to.”

Thorns goalkeeper Bella Bixby, in a statement posted on her twitter account, echoed those sentiments. She expressed that she understands and respects of the decision of any fans of the team who have decided not to attend, and understands that it is a complicated and nuanced decision that fans do not make lightly.

To those fans that are “on the fence” about deciding to go, she expressed a beautifully worded call for them to show up in solidarity and support the players — the ones who have truly been the carriers of the burden of years of abuse.

“You can view that showing up on game day is an act of solidarity with the women on the field who are time and time again punished for the acts of others,” Bixby shared.

Her statement concludes with: “We’d love to have one last party at Providence Park in a few weeks, and we want you to be there. Because this club belongs to us.”

The Thorns semifinal match kicks off at 2 p.m. PT at Providence Park, broadcast on CBS Sports Network. You can purchase tickets here.