Match Recap

Thorns trounce Orlando Pride 4-0 in 2023 season opener

The defending champs kicked-off the new season in much the same way they ended the last.


The pregame festivities were up to champions' standards, including the unveiling of the 2022 Championship banner and an unforgettable TIFO raised by the Rose City Riveters.

Without hesitation, the three-time champs attacked from the initial whistle, looking dangerous as early as the third minute when Portland scored the opener. In the 16th minute, Morgan Weaver tapped in a rebound following a saved shot by Christine Sinclair, igniting a party at Providence Park and providing the first glimpse of red smoke in 2023.

Just five minutes later, the Thorns struck again. This time, the 2022 NWSL MVP Sophia Smith buried a cut-back pass from Sinclair. Her powerful blast was deflected into the upper 90 at the goal line, putting Portland up 2-0.

Going absolute berserk on the offensive end, Portland nearly went up by three in the 25th minute. Sinclair landed an outside-the-box shot in the back of the net, but the referee called it back for a foul in the build-up to the attempt. Sophia Smith came close to a first-half brace in the 30th minute in a one-on-one situation with Pride goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse. An astounding chipped through ball by Sam Coffey found Smith running past Orlando's last defender and alone towards goal. After cutting wide to her left and getting past the keeper, Smith sent a low left-footer straight into the right post.

At halftime, the Thorns took their 2-0 lead to the locker room, having dominated the first 45 minutes with 15 shots, seven of which were on target.

The second half was no different, with Hina Sugita getting on the scoresheet three minutes in, much to the delight of the Riveters. Sugita netted her first goal of 2023 by burying a rebound from Sophia Smith into the back of the net.

Bella Bixby, the Thorns' keeper, had been pretty much unbothered throughout the first 50 minutes of the game but got to show her skills in the 52nd minute when a quick offensive approach by Orlando required a diving save. Bixby remained firm under her posts for the remainder of the match.

The fourth goal arrived with 15 minutes left in the match via Michele Vasconcelos. Starting way back in Portland's own half with Hina Sugita, who evaded two Orlando defenders in a swooping 180 turn with the ball, splitting them both and taking off on the attack. Her through ball to Sophia Smith was received and pushed to the endline, where the reigning MVP crossed it into the box for a waiting Vasconcelos, who slid and simply tapped the ball into the goal. It was perhaps the best of the four plays leading up to the goals.

With Portland firmly in control, the match tempo toned down in the final 10 minutes. Once the final whistle blew, it was evident why the Thorns are the crown-bearers, with an authoritative 4-0 win and an astounding 26 shots to 9.

Three different players put on amazing performances and could be considered for player of the match: Sophia Smith (1 goal, 1 assist), Christine Sinclair (1 assist), and Hina Sugita (1 goal). The Providence Park crowd celebrated along with the Thorns, earning their deserved roses in a resounding season opener.

Portland will travel to the Midwest for a matchweek 2 encounter with the Kansas City Current on April 1st, looking to build on a terrific season debut.