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Portland Thorns begin title defense with dominant win

The Portland Thorns, the 2022 National Women's Soccer League champions, began its title defense with a dominant 4-0 home win over the Orlando Pride on Sunday.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Reigning National Women’s Soccer League MVP Sophia Smith scored in the 22nd minute and the defending champion Portland Thorns opened the season with a 4-0 victory at home over the Orlando Pride on Sunday.

It was the 100th victory for the Thorns, the first NWSL team to reach that milestone. Portland, which has won three league titles, unfurled its 2022 championship banner at Providence Park before the game.

Morgan Weaver scored an early goal for the Thorns before Smith’s goal off a pass from Christine Sinclair made it 2-0. Hina Sugita added a third goal for the Thorns in the 49th.

Michele Vasconcelos added a final goal for the Thorns in the 76th. It was her first goal for the Thorns and first NWSL goal since she was with the Chicago Red Stars in 2019.

Smith has scored in the season opener for three straight years.


Lynn Williams scored in the 64th minute to cap a come-from-behind 2-1 win for NJ/NY Gotham FC over Angel City FC on Sunday evening.

The road victory, in front of 22,000 at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles, also featured the first use of video assistant referee (VAR) in the NWSL.

Eighteen-year-old rookie Alyssa Thompson, selected with the first pick of the NWSL draft, opened the scoring for Angel City in the 11th minute. The forward unleashed a shot from just outside the 18-yard box that brushed off the fingertips of goalkeeper Abby Smith and into the upper right corner of the goal.

In the 15th minute, Angel City fans thought the home side had its second goal when Jun Endo scored from nearly 40 yards out, but a VAR review overturned the goal due to a foul on the play.

Gotham, who finished at the bottom of the league in 2022, leveled the score in the 55th minute when they were awarded a penalty after a second VAR review. Midge Purce sent her shot from the spot into the upper right corner.

Williams, in her Gotham debut, put the visitors up 2-1 in the 64th minute with a one-touch shot off a pass from Purce.


Trinity Rodman's goal in the 54th minute was all the Washington Spirit needed to beat OL Reign on Sunday afternoon. The match was played in front of 11,281 fans at Audi Field, a home opener record for the Washington, D.C., club.

OL Reign, who won the 2022 NWSL Shield, dominated possession and outshot the Spirit 11 to 4 in the first half, but both sides entered halftime scoreless.

Washington didn't have a shot on target until Rodman's goal. She collected the ball at half and dribbled toward the goal. No Reign players stepped toward the Spirit forward, and her left-footed shot from just outside the 18-yard box slid into the lower right corner.


A goalkeeper battle at Shell Energy Stadium in Houston resulted in a scoreless draw between the Houston Dash and Racing Louisville.

The Dash, who qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 2022, got 15 shots off. The visitors had 17, but neither team could find the back of the net in a tightly contested battle.

Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell, who had five saves, punched a curling shot from Jess McDonald over the bar in the 48th minute.

Katie Lund's six saves for Louisville included back-to-back stops in the 69th minute. Lund got low to block forward Diana Ordoñez’s diving header and made another save on the rebound.

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