[NWSL: Final] Following the initial allocation of U.S., Canadian and Mexican national team stars, some were ready to hand the inaugural NWSL title to the Portland Thorns FC. But it didn't prove to be as easy as that as the Thorns struggled through much of the summer and star Alex Morgan was injured before they came back to win the NWSL championship with a 2-0 win at the Western New York Flash despite finishing with 10 players.
Tobin Heath and Christine Sinclair, two of the star players allocated to Portland, scored the goals to the disappointment of the 9,129 fans on hand at Sahlen's Stadium in
Heath, who had missed the start of the season as she was playing in France for Paris St. Germain, put the Thorns ahead in the 40th minute when she scored on a free kick from 25
Thorns FC played the final 34
minutes with 10 players after rookie defender Kathryn Williamson was ejected following her second yellow card of the match.
Despite the loss of
Williamson, Portland held off the Flash, which finished with an 18-9 edge in shots. Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, another of Portland's allocated players,
made seven saves to earn the shutout.
Heath, who was hobbled with a foot injury, came off in the 63rd minute, but eight minutes after that Morgan came on for Danielle Foxhoven and made her first appearance for the Thorns since Aug. 7.
Two minutes into stoppage time, Morgan put Christine Sinclair
and the Canadian star slotted the ball past Western New York goalkeeper Adrianna Franch for the insurance goal.
Portland had started 8-2-1 but went only
3-4-4 over the second half of the season and finished in the three-way tie for first place with the Flash and FC Kansas City and was the No. 3 seed based on goal difference.
ended the Flash's eight-game unbeaten streak and its quest for titles in four different leagues over the last four seasons.
Aug. 31 in Rochester,
Western New York 0 Portland 2. Goal: Heath 40, Sinclair
Western NY -- Franch, Taylor, Johnson, Barczuk (Zerboni, 55), Huffman (DiMartino, 72), Salem,
Lloyd, Reynolds, Martin, Wambach, Kerr (Robinson, 84).
Portland -- LeBlanc, Dougherty, Williamson, Buehler, Marshall, Kerr (Wetzel, 80), Long, Shim, Heath
(Ellertson, 63), Foxhoven (Morgan, 71), Sinclair.
Yellow Cards: Western NY -- Johnson 32, Martin 74; Portland --
Williamson 32, Williamson 56, Long 89, Ellertson 90.
Red Card: Portland -- Williamson 56.