After a tumultuous three weeks off the field, the Portland Thorns are back on it, and it’s in the biggest game of the year so far. The Thorns square off against San Diego Wave in the NWSL Semifinal on Sunday afternoon. It is the first game at Providence Park since the explosive report from Sally Yates and U.S. Soccer that has led to significant changes within the PTFC organization. Under that backdrop, the Thorns will be playing for a spot in the NWSL final.
Storylines So Far
The Thorns finished second in the NWSL table this year, earning them a first round bye and the right to host a semifinal match. The lost out on the Shield on the final day of the season in painful fashion, but they finished the season on a five game unbeaten run.
The Thorns have been led through most of 2022 by leading scorer Sophia Smith (14 goals), who is enjoying a career season. An MVP finalist, the forward has burst onto the scene with the national team as well. She represents the greatest strength of the Thorns this season: goal scoring. They’ve piled up a whopping 49 goals scored this year, and amassed a +25 goal differential.
Their opponents today, San Diego, meanwhile have allowed the second fewest goals in the league this year. They also have a star scorer of their own in Alex Morgan, who won the golden boot in NWSL this season with 16 goals scored. They have also shown resilience in the playoffs so far, coming from behind to prevail in extra time over the Chicago Red Stars in the quarterfinal round.
The Wave also have had previous success over the Thorns in the regular season, notching a win and a draw over the Thorns in regular season.
Overcasting all of this is the findings of the U.S. Soccer investigation led by Sally Yates, which was the most damming picture yet into the mishandling by the Thorns organization into the alleged abuse by former head coach Paul Riley.
Melina previewed today’s game — and explained how it’s more than a soccer game today.
The national teams of Thorns players learned their groups for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
A portion of proceeds of ticket sales from today’s game will be donated to local charities selected by Thorns players.
How to Watch
Location: Providence Park | Portland, OR
Time: 2 p.m. PT
Watch: CBS Sports Network, Twitch (international)