Portland Thorns take inaugural NWSL championship with 2-0 win over Western New York Flash
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Midfielder Tobin Heath and forward Christine Sinclair registered a goal in each half as Portland Thorns FC defeated the Western New York Flash 2-0 to win the inaugural National Women's Soccer League Championship before 9,129 fans at Sahlen's Stadium on Saturday night.
Thorns FC, which earned the league's championship as the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, played the final 34 minutes with 10 players after rookie defender Kathryn Williamson was ejected following her second yellow card of the match for an off-the-ball foul on Western New York forward Abby Wambach.
After repelling several attacks from the No. 1 seed Flash during the first half, Heath gave Portland a 1-0 lead minutes before the break with a picturesque, bending free kick from 25 yards.
The goal was Heath’s second in two matches for Thorns FC — she tallied the opening goal for Portland in a 3-2, comeback win over FC Kansas City on Aug. 24 in Overland Park, Kan., in the NWSL semifinals. Heath was named the Most Valuable Player of the NWSL Championship match for her performance against the Flash.
Facing five minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half, Sinclair provided the clinching goal after taking a pass from substitute forward Alex Morgan, who entered the match in the 71st minute.
On the right side of the field, Morgan delivered a pass that Sinclair took in stride with space to run at Western New York goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. Sinclair slotted past Franch to the lower left corner for the 2-0 lead in the second minute of second-half stoppage time.
The title is the first for a major professional sports team in Portland since 1977.