I cannot stop watching replays of the game yesterday or the post game celebrations as my Portland Thorns professional women’s soccer team won their 2nd league championship. They won the first year of the league, and now at the 5th year anniversary of the National Women’s Soccer League.
I love this team. I always have loved this team, but this year, the team was incredibly special. When I was playing college softball, we had a team one year where everything fucking clicked. Our play as a team was amazing. We laughed and joked and had so much fun. But the minute we were on the field competing, we were a force to be reckoned with. We were one unit – one team – and our win / loss record showed it as we won….a lot. Watching this Thorn’s team, I saw a lot of the same elements and maybe that’s why I find this team special. I see the special.
Our team is stacked with talent. National players alone, we have the captain of the Canadian Women’s national team (Sinclair), a Denmark national team player (Nadim), a French national team player (Henry), an Australian national team player (Rasso), an Iceland national team player (Brynjarsdóttir), and 3 US women’s national team members (Heath, Horan, and Long). Hell, we have 2 other players who have done time on the US women’s national team (Kling and Mengez).
And all of the players not mentioned? None are weak. Our goalie (Franch) has had one hell of a season with 11 games not allowing any goals. The wall of Emily in the back line helped her tremendously too as both Emily Mengez and Emily Sonnett shut things down. And when she wasn’t the other half of that wall, Sonnett was scoring goals. On the back with them was a speedy defender who was amazing at pressing the ball up to the offense – Sykes. Then on the other side, Reynolds keeping things going too. She was part of that amazing backline of defenders that made it hard for other teams to score.
Last year, the Thorns lost in the semi-final game to the North Carolina team they beat yesterday in the championship game. That loss fueled them this year. Each interview someone would have, they mentioned how they let their fans down last year – and it was not happening again. Then as the season was coming to a close and it was announced our French national team player Henry and Denmark national team player Nadim were not coming back next year, the focus shifted ever so slightly…..both added, “we are not leaving this team and these fans without getting them a championship before we go”. Henry yesterday after the game showed how she had written on her stomach before the game “Thorns Forever!”
I think that is how this entire team feels – this family feels. Several people have said that during interview – how they are a team but a family. It shows. It shows as you watch them celebrate. It shows as you watch them interact on the field.
They landed in Portland about an hour ago, and the fans were there – a LOT of fans surprising them by closing off part of the airport roadway to surprise them. They brought out the championship trophy, showed it to the fans, then the captain (Sinclair) took it to the fans and gave it to them to hold and pass around. How many professional athletes would have done that? Then they all scattered around signing autographs, taking selfies with the fans, and giving them high fives.
It’s really no wonder why I can’t stop watching the highlights and videos from the various celebrations. A special team. A classy team. Role models girls need.
Yeah, I’m proud.