NWSL RECAP | Thorns claim 2021 NWSL Shield with 1-0 road win over Houston Dash


HOUSTON, Texas – Portland Thorns FC are the 2021 NWSL Shield winners.

Midfielder Lindsey Horan scored a milestone goal just before halftime to lead the Thorns to a 1-0 road win over the Houston Dash on Sunday at PNC Stadium. With the victory, the Thorns secured the NWSL Shield as the club with the best regular-season record in 2021.

It is the second time in club history that the Thorns have claimed the NWSL Shield, first winning the Shield in 2016. By winning the 2021 NWSL Shield, the Thorns will be the No. 1 seed in the postseason, earning a first-round bye and will host a semifinal match at Providence Park.

On a historic night, it was only fitting that Saturday’s win over the Dash not only secured the NWSL Shield, but also allowed head coach Mark Parsons to become the winningest coach in NWSL History with his 82nd career victory.

The road win in also marked the club’s 12th shutout of the season, setting a new, single-season club record and tying the league mark. It also matched a club record for road wins (6) in a season.

Horan tallied the game’s lone goal in the 43rd minute. It was the 25th goal of her NWSL career, becoming just the third player in Thorns history to reach the quarter century mark. She smashed a shot into the top right corner of the goal for her second goal of the regular season.

With the NWSL Shield and a home playoff game on the line, the Thorns opened the game on the front foot, with 60% of the possession and seven shots through the first half hour. Sophia Smith and Christine Sinclair each hit the woodwork in the 12th and 26th minutes, respectively. But the persistence in the attack paid off just minutes from half time on Horan’s game-winning goal.

The match intensified in the second half as the Dash found more of the game; the two sides finished nearly even on shots 16-13 in favor of the Thorns. Sinclair had another chance in the second half cleared off the line in the 68th minute. And overall, Portland generated its 16 shots from eight different players.

The Thorns conceded five chances on goal en route to earning a league-best 12th clean sheet this season. Goalkeeper Bella Bixby recorded five saves, including three on chances by Dash forward Nichelle Prince, to record her eighth shutout of the NWSL campaign. Bixby and the backline did well over the final 10 minutes to thwart a series of chances by Houston.

Next up: Portland closes the regular season on Saturday, Oct. 30, against the North Carolina Courage at Providence Park; kickoff is 7 p.m. (Pacific).

Goalscoring Plays

43 – POR – Smith played the ball in from the left side. Forward Morgan Weaver got a touch on the ball to put it into space at the top of the box. Horan, on a trailing run, ran onto the ball and hammered home the winner.


  • Thorns FC secured their second NWSL Shield in club history. Portland won the NWSL Shield in 2016.
  • Portland is the third club to win multiple NWSL Shields, joining Seattle Reign (2014, 2015) and the North Carolina Courage (2017, 2018, 2019).
  • Thorns FC tied the NWSL record for shutouts in a season (12), while setting a new club record.
  • Portland has finished in the top two in four of its last five NWSL regular seasons.
  • Parsons registered his 82nd career NWSL win as a head coach – the most in league history.
  • Portland recorded its sixth road win of 2021, which is tied for the most road wins in a single season (2013, 2018).
  • Thorns FC’s six road wins are the most in the NWSL this season.
  • Portland registered its seventh clean sheet on the road in 2021. Their seven road clean sheets are tied for the most in the NWSL with North Carolina.
  • Bixby recorded her eighth shutout of 2021. She has the second-most shutouts in the NWSL this season.
  • Horan is the seventh player to score multiple goals for Portland this season.
  • The goal was the 25th of Horan’s career with Portland. She is just the third player to record 25 or more goals with the club.
  • Horan has scored six goals in 10 career matches against the Dash.
  • Morgan Weaver recorded her third assist of 2021. She is tied for the team lead in assists with Horan and Meghan Klingenberg.
  • Weaver has tallied a goal or an assist in the last two matches.
  • Portland recorded its 10th shutout all-time against Houston.
  • Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last six road matches against the Dash, posting a record of 5-0-1.
  • With the win, Portland improved to 6-1-3 all-time on the road against Houston, and 13-3-3 overall.

Portland Thorns FC (13-6-4, 43pts) vs. Houston Dash (9-9-5, 32pts)
Oct. 17, 2021 – PNC Stadium (Houston, Texas)

Scoring Summary:
POR: Horan (Weaver), 43

Misconduct Summary:
HOU: Chapman (caution), 52
POR: Rodríguez (caution), 60

POR: GK Bixby, D Kuikka, D Menges, D Sauerbrunn, D Klingenberg (Hubly, 90), M Salem, M Horan, M Rodríguez (Ryan, 90+2), M Sinclair © (Dunn, 75), F S. Smith (Charley, 75), F Weaver (Lussi, 89)

Substitutes Not Used: GK A. Smith, D Pogarch, M Everett, M Moultrie

TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Horan, Smith, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Horan, 2); FOULS: 14 (Rodríguez, Weaver, 3); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 5

HOU: GK Campbell, D Hanson, D Naughton, D Dahlkemper, D Chapman, M Schmidt (Groom, 77), M Seiler, M Mewis, F Visalli (Latsko, 68), F Daly ©, F Prince

Substitutes Not Used: GK Harris, D Oyster, M Hauksdottir, M Gomera-Stevens, F Spencer, F Abam, F Alozie

TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Prince, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Prince, 3); FOULS: 5 (Chapman, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 3

Referee: Luis Guardia
Assistant Referees: Alicia Messer, Salma Perez
4th Official: Alexandra Theriot
Attendance: 4,792
Weather: Sunny, 71 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial