USWNT: Thorns Win NWSL Challenge Cup, Super League Season Comes to Close

Portland Thorns FC have been crowned the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup Champions, defeating NJ/NY Gotham FC on penalty kicks, 6-5, following a 1-1 stalemate at the end of regulation at Providence Park.

The championship match of the preseason tournament saw the hosts open the game on the front foot, as Canadian international Christine Sinclair put Portland up 1-0 in the eighth minute. The Thorns controlled the game for the majority of the first half and outshot Gotham 26-8 on the day with an 8-1 advantage in shots on goal. U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Lindsey Horan led all players with 12 shots on the day, a club record for the Thorns. Sophia Smith tallied five shots in 76 minutes of play. 

However, Gotham came up with the equalizer in the second half, courtesy of header by Carli Lloyd in the 61st minute. The two-time World Cup champion got on the end of an arcing cross by Imani Dorsey and elevated above the Thorns defense to score her second goal of the Challenge Cup. Lloyd played the full 90 minutes and led Gotham with three shots on the day while Midge Purce recorded one shot in 73 minutes of action for the East Coast-based club.

WATCH: Lloyd Scores Second-Half Equalizer for Gotham



Despite a flurry of chances by both sides in the final minute, the match remained tied 1-1 and proceeded to penalty kicks. Lloyd converted her attempt for Gotham while Horan, Crystal Dunn and Becky Sauerbrunn all put away their penalties for Portland. Tied 5-5 heading into the seventh round of penalties, goalkeeper Adrianna Franch provided the heroics for the home side, diving to her right to make a fantastic save and deny Gotham’s Nahomi Kawasumi. Forward Morgan Weaver converted the ensuing attempt to clinch the Challenge Cup for the Thorns. 

WATCH: Franch Makes Crucial Save in Shootout



The 2021 NWSL regular season officially kicks off on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. ET, with Racing Louisville hosting Kansas City. The full schedule and viewing information can be found here.

While the NWSL season is just getting started, England’s FA Women’s Super League wrapped up on Sunday with its 22nd and final matchday of the season. Chelsea claimed the league title with 57 points from 22 matches, followed closely by Manchester City who took 55 points from 22 games and suffered their lone defeat of the season to the London-based Blues on back on October 11.

Despite coming up just short in the title race, the Cityzens closed the 2020-21 league campaign with a 1-0 win over West Ham United in London on Sunday morning. Samantha Mewis (73 minutes) and Rose Lavelle (29 minutes) both saw action in the win (and both, oddly, had their penalty kicks attempts saved) which gave Manchester City 13 victories in its last 14 league games. Mewis finished her first Women’s Super League campaign with seven goals and two assists in 17 league appearances while Lavelle saw action in 16 league games, scoring once.  USA teammate and center back Abby Dahlkemper, who signed with the club in January, helped City to six clean sheets in her eight WSL appearances.

Manchester United finished fourth in the league table, narrowly missing out on a spot in Champions League next season. However, the Red Devils closed the campaign with three consecutive wins, including a 2-0 victory over Everton on May 9. USWNT forward Christen Press assisted the game’s opening goal, picking out English international Ella Toone with a crafty cross in the sixth minute. Press played 89 minutes in the victory and closed the WSL campaign with four goals and one assist in 14 league appearances. Fellow USA forward Tobin Heath had four goals and two assists in eight league appearances for Manchester United before missing the final half of the season due to injury.



WATCH: Press Sets Up Game-Winning Goal



In France, Catarina Macario continued her stellar run of form for Olympique Lyonnais, scoring twice in the first half of Lyon’s 4-0 win over Issy on May 9. Macario found the back of the net in the 32nd minute for Lyon’s second goal of the game and converted her brace just ten minutes before subbing off at the half. Macario has now scored six goals in her last five games for OL in all competitions and is riding a five-match scoring streak dating back to Lyon’s 3-0 victory over Dijon on March 27.

USA teammate and fellow Stanford University product Alana Cook started and played the first 45 minutes for Paris Saint-Germain in the club’s 2-0 road victory over Le Havre. PSG remains first in the league table with 55 points from 19 matches, with Lyon sitting in second on 54 points.

Information on upcoming matches featuring U.S. Women’s National Team players can be found below. All times listed are ET.


Saturday, May 15

Racing Louisville vs. Kansas City


5:00 p.m.

CBS Sports Network

NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. Houston Dash


7:00 p.m.


OL Reign vs. North Carolina Courage


10:00 p.m.


Sunday, May 16

Manchester United vs. Leicester City

FA Cup

7:00 a.m.


Manchester City vs. West Ham United

FA Cup

9:00 a.m.


Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit


6:00 p.m.


Portland Thorns vs. Chicago Red Stars


7:00 p.m.


Go Deeper