Portland Thorns clinch NWSL Shield on final day of regular season
Portland Thorns FC won the NWSL Shield for the first time in club history on Sunday, rattling off a fourth consecutive victory to eclipse the Washington Spirit on the final day of the season.
The Thorns clinched the Shield, awarded to the best team in the regular season, with a 3-1 victory over Sky Blue FC on Sunday at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. It is the second trophy for Portland in the club’s four-season history; the Thorns won the inaugural NWSL Championship in 2013.
Portland (12-3-5, 41 pts.) finishes the regular season two points clear of the Spirit (12-5-3, 39 pts.). The Spirit will host third-place finishing Chicago Red Stars on Saturday in the first semifinal, while the Thorns will play in a home playoff game for the first time ever on Sunday when they host the Flash. The NWSL Championship will be played on Oct. 9 in Houston.
Washington opened the door for the Thorns to grab this year’s shield with a 3-1 road loss to Chicago on Saturday, the Spirit’s second consecutive loss. Washington lost to Seattle Reign FC on Sept. 11 in its penultimate game.
Portland began the campaign with a 12-game unbeaten run, the second-longest streak in NWSL history behind Seattle Reign FC’s 16-game streak in 2014.
No Shield-winning team has ever won the NWSL Championship. Western New York won the Shield and lost to Portland in the 2013 Championship, while Seattle ran away with the past two regular-season campaigns before falling to FC Kansas City in the final in both 2014 and 2015.
Second-year Flash forward Lynn Williams clinched the NWSL Golden Boot on Saturday with a goal in a 4-0 victory over the last-place Boston Breakers, Williams’ 11th of the season. Houston Dash forward Kealia Ohai matched that tally by scoring on Sunday against Seattle, but the NWSL uses assists as the tiebreaker for the Golden Boot. Williams finished the season with five assists; Williams with four.