The Thorns punched their ticket to their first appearance in the championship match since 2018 by virtue of a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the San Diego Wave at Providence Park on Sunday. The game featured a dramatic stoppage-time winner from Crystal Dunn — and yes I am going to use that as an excuse to drop in the video of the legendary goal yet again:
This goal (and we cannot stress this enough) was https://t.co/vLMPhtTJ88— X - Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) October 24, 2022
This will be Portland’s fourth appearance in the Championship game, and they have a 2-1 record in their previous appearances. The last time we saw them in the big game it was in a tough 3-0 home loss to the North Carolina Courage. Now, they are back and are seeking to create a more positive memory — and become the first NWSL team to win three NWSL championships in the process.
(Yes, I know the Western New York Flash moved to Cary, NC to become the Courage and technically there are three NWSL championships between those two franchises — but I’m going off of stars over the badge folks, and no one has three yet).
Standing in their way of that feat is the Kansas City Current, who are riding one of the feel-good stories of the season. After finishing dead last in 2021, KC have experienced quite the resurgence in 2022. They rattled off a 13-game win unbeaten run in the summer to propel them to the top end of the table, and briefly flirt with winning the NWSL Shield. They finished fifth, cementing the turnaround by qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in their short history.
The surprises have kept coming as they now have two playoff upsets under their belt. The beat the Houston Dash in dramatic fashion with a stoppage-time winner (a theme, apparently, in these playoffs!), and then traveled to Seattle and blanked OL Reign by a 2-0 margin in the semifinals.
The Reign, who had won the 2022 NWSL Shield with the league’s best record, were boasting a record crowd at Lumen Field and who had only lost once at home all season seemed to be odds-on favorites to emerge victorious in their semifinal and set up a titanic all-Cascadia rivalry clash in the final. Instead the Current put on a smash-and-grab masterclass, riding a career game from goalkeeper (and former Thorn) AD Franch and nabbing two clinical counterattacking goals.
OL Reign fell in surprising fashion, and the Current are riding their momentum all the way to Washington, D.C. to face the Thorns in the title game. Underdog vibes and stingy defense vs. overwhelming attacking might and emotion: a worthy final indeed.
The 2022 NWSL Championship will kick off at 5 p.m. Pacific on Saturday, October 29 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. The game will be broadcast over network television on CBS. There are still seats available, and if you want to make the trek east to root for the Thorns you can purchase tickets here.