The wait is over: your defending 2022 NWSL champions are back!
The Portland Thorns open their 2023 campaign against the Orlando Pride at Providence Park this afternoon. The Thorns featured a squad that is largely the same from when we last saw them raising that spatula-esque trophy, with some fresh young talent and a new head coach in tow.
Storylines so far
When last we saw the Thorns in action, they were raising a trophy.
Portland emerged victorious last autumn, as they lifted the 2022 NWSL championship trophy for the third time, earning their third star. Since then, there has been minimal turnover and the Thorns return largely the same squad.
The biggest change is that head coach Rhian Wilkinson stepped down following the conclusion of the 2022 season, and assistant coach Mike Norris was appointed to step up into the head coach role.
Personnel wise, the biggest lost for Portland was losing Janine Beckie: the Canadian winger tore her ACL in Portland’s second preseason match, and will miss the 2023 season for club and country. Another loss was championship game standout Yazmeen Ryan, who was traded to Gotham FC this offseason.
Outside of that, this is by and large the same talented crew that came out on top last year. NWSL MVP Sophia Smith is back and ready for more, and club stalwart Christine Sinclair is still just as hungry and focused as she has ever been. Throw in a full season of a healthy Crystal Dunn (in the midfield!), and this Portland team is primed and ready to start another campaign with more silverware as the goal.
It all starts this afternoon against the Orlando Pride, a team that is looking to have a bounceback year after a disappointing 2022. Playing in Portland has not been kind to Orlando, so the home side will be heavily favored in this one.
Phuoc also has takeaways from the Thorns’ media day ahead of the season opener.
Oh, and you read the Stumptown crew’s thoughts on that kit here.
How to watch
Location: Providence Park | Portland, OR
Time: 2 p.m. PT
Watch: Paramount + (online)