Thorns FC

Portland Thorns fall at Kansas City Current

Sophia Smith and Janine Beckie record braces to start the season.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI (Saturday, March 16, 2024) – Portland Thorns (0-1-0, 0 points) dropped a 5-4 result to open the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League season.

In their historic stadium, Kansas City Current (1-0-0, 3 points) looked to be the clear aggressors in the early moments of the match, pressuring Portland’s backline multiple times in the opening 15 minutes. In the 22nd minute Kansas City capitalized on a miscommunication between the backline, with Vannessa DiBernardo punching on a loose ball, slotting her shot into the back of the net. Just three minutes later the Current doubled its lead, Ellie Wheeler pounding her shot past the goalkeeper.

In the 34th minute Bia Zaneratto outran the Thorns backline, opening up a small window to tuck her shot into the upper right corner of the goal to take the 3-0 lead. Portland had its first true opportunity of the match in the 31st minute when Christine Sinclair launched on from outside the 18-yard-box, but a diving save from AD Franch pushed the ball out for a corner. The ensuing corner kick saw Kelli Hubly’s shot bounce off the post and parlayed out of danger by the Current’s defense.

Just before the first half whistle Sophia Smith pulled on back for the Thorns, receiving a short pass from Jessie Fleming before hitting a deep ball from outside the 18-yard-box past the outstretched arms of Franch, and the team headed into the locker room down 3-1 at halftime.

Coming out of the halftime break with a two-goal deficit, the Thorns looked to crawl their way back into the match, maintaining offensive momentum, but unable to put one into the back of the net. Forward Morgan Weaver looked to cut the deficit in half in the 59th minute, but her shot was miraculously pushed over the bar by Franch.

Kansas City scored its fourth of the afternoon in the 62nd minute when Shelby Hogan’s initial save left the ball in front of an open goal for Kristen Hamilton to put into the back of the net. Minutes later Alex Pfieffer netted the fifth of the match for the Current.

In the 71st minute Janine Beckie was able to pull one back off a corner kick from Isabella Obaze. Then, three minutes later Smith netted another, weaving through a series of Kansas City defenders to put one into the left corner.

In the waning moments of the match Beckie netted her second of the game, rocketing a shot from deep outside the 18-yard-box to pull the Thorns within one. However, Portland would be unable to find the fifth goal, falling 5-4 to the Kansas City Current.

UP NEXT: Portland Thorns FC return home to Providence Park for its home opener against Gotham FC on Sunday, March 24 at 4:00 p.m. PT. The team will remain at home where they will face Racing Louisville on Saturday.


KCC: Vanessa DiBernardo 22nd minute: Following a miscommunication inside the six-yard-box, DiBernardo cleaned up a loose ball directly in front of goal, easily slotting it into the back of the net,

KCC: Ellie Wheeler 25th minute: After a blocked ball fell directly into the path of Wheeler, she rocketed a shot off through the diving arms of the goalkeeper.

KCC: Bia Zaneratto (Vannessa DiBernardo) 34th minute: DiBernardo hit a ball over the top for Zaneratto to run onto. Out pacing her defender Zaneratto tucked a shot into the upper-right corner of goal.

POR: Sophia Smith (Jessie Fleming) 43rd minute: With a short pass from Fleming, Smith turned and drove towards goal, launching a deep shot from outside the 18-yard-box and past the diving arms of AD Franch.

KCC: Kristen Hamilton 64th minute: Coming out to make the save, Shelby Hogan was able to make the initial block, but the ball landed in the path of Hamilton who took her open shot in front of goal.

KCC: Alex Pfeiffer (Temwa Chawinga) 68th minute: Chawinga fed a short pass to Pfeiffer at the top of the box, who then narrowly placed her shot into the bottom-left corner of goal.

POR: Janine Beckie (Isabella Obaze) 71st minute: From a corner kick serviced by Obaze, the ball bounced to the feet of Beckie who was able to slot her shot underneath the goalkeeper.

POR: Sophia Smith 74th minute: Weaving through several defenders, Smith pushed her shot into the far past and into the back of the net.

POR: Janine Beckie (Marie Müller) 90+1st minute: Müller found Beckie at the top of the 18-yard-box, where the forward then spun towards goal before rocketing off a shot into the left side of the goal.


  • Four players made their Thorns FC debut as part of Head Coach Mike Norris’ starting XI, including Jessie Fleming, Müller, Isabella Obaze and Nicole Payne. Her second goal of the match, good for her 34th all-time
  • Sophia Smith’s goal in the 43rd minute marked her 33rd all-time in the National Women’s Soccer League. Meanwhile, the assist from Jessie Fleming served as the first for the Canadian midfielder. Defender Isabella Obaze also recorded her first assists with the Thorns, providing the pass for Janine Beckie’s goal in the 71st minute
  • Forward Janine Beckie made her return to the pitch as a halftime substitute, nearly a year, to the day that she tore her anterior cruciate ligament. Her goal in the 71st minute would mark her first since returning to injury.


Portland Thorns (4-3-3): Shelby Hogan; Marie Müller, Isabella Obaze, Nicole Payne (Reyna Reyes 75’); Jessie Fleming, Olivia Moultrie (Hina Sugita 60’), Sam Coffey (Olivia Wade-Katoa 75’); Morgan Weaver, Sophia Smith (Izzy D’Aquila 75’), Christine Sinclair (Janine Beckie 46’)

Subs not used: Lauren Kozal, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, Marissa Sheva,

Kansas City Current (3-4-3): AD Franch; Hailie Mace, Gabrielle Robinson, Elizabeth Ball; Ellie Wheeler, Claire Hutton, Vanessa DiBernardo (Claire Lavogez 61’), Lo’eau LaBonta; Alexa Spaanstra (Temwa Chawinga 61’), Bia Zaneratto (Alex Pfeiffer 46’), Debinha (Kristen Hamilton 32’ (Stine Ballisager, 88’))

Subs not used: Regan Steigleder, Izzy Rodriguez, Bayley Feist, Jordan Silkowitz

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:POR: Hina Sugita (caution) 79’
POR: Kelli Hubly (caution) 85’