A new model for women's soccer? | Al Jazeera America examines Portland Thorns FC & the NWSL

Buehler after her first Thorns game: "Oh, my gosh, this is what it's like to play in Portland."

Super Heroes Tifo, Thorns vs. FCKC, 8.4.13

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Rachel Buehler, an American international soccer player and, as of earlier this year, a member of the Portland Thorns soccer team, recalled one of the moments when she realized that nothing in her career had quite prepared her for playing soccer in Portland, Ore.

"We had our own cheering section, the Rose City Riveters, and before our final home game, they made a tifo (banner) of us where they had us all painted as superheroes, and they rolled it down right after the national anthem," she said. "I'd never seen anything like that or been any part of anything like that before. It was awesome."
 
And so writes noted soccer writer Graham Parker in an excellent new article from Al Jazeera America in which he examines the success not only of Portland Thorns FC in its inaugural year, but also what it means for women's soccer to have a new, growing, and successful professional league in the U.S. With interviews from Thorns defender and U.S. international Rachel Buehler, Thorns anD Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey as well as ESPN W founder Laura Gentile, Parker gives a thorough look at what the first season meant and where it can go from here.