Portland Thorns Win NWSL Championship to End Turbulent Season
March 24, 2018
Portland Thorns FC
The Thorns ended the season on a high note, winning their second-straight NWSL Championship to end the 2018 season atop a NWSL playoff bracket that included perennial league powerhouses Seattle Reign FC and Houston Dash. The club’s first-ever championship, and first playoff victory since joining the league in 2011, came in front of their own fans at Providence Park on Sunday after a dominant regular season that saw Portland win the regular season’s first-ever North American championship.
Following the end-of-year celebrations (see all of our coverage here), NWSL will return to action Wednesday with the first leg of the first-ever NWSL Knockout Cup, where the Thorns will play host to fellow NWSL champion North Carolina Independence.
“Our fans deserve nothing but the best for the way they have supported us through all of this,” Portland head coach Mark Parsons said. “I can’t think of a more fitting way to close out our season than to end it in front of them on the biggest stage possible.”
Portland’s run of success (the Thorns won an eight-year first-time-all-MLS-regular-season-winner-is-crown title in Portland and became the first team to reach the final of each of their first five league seasons) has been something of a rollercoaster for head coach Parsons since his arrival in 2015.
From the start, the Thorns set lofty goals for themselves—a playoff berth and eventually a championship. But a late-season run that saw the Thorns secure a playoff berth, then lose in the Round of 16 to San Jose, was followed by another playoff berth and a runner-up finish to an eventual league champion.
But since the Thorns finished their first season with playoff ambitions, Parsons has had to adjust his thinking in light of a 2018 season that saw the Thorns clinch a playoff berth after failing to make the postseason the previous two years.
“The season has been full of ups and downs and moments