Portland Thorns take first place with comeback win before NWSL record crowd

Cheered on by largest crowd in NWSL history, the Portland Thorns moved into first place when they beat the North Carolina Courage, 2-1, thanks to a pair of own goals.

U.S. star Crystal Dunn gave the Courage the lead in the 4th minute, but the Thorns rallied on own goals by Courage goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe in the 56th minute and Courage defender Abby Erceg in the 82nd minute.

But the Thorns needed 10 saves from goalkeeper Adrianna Franch to hold off the Courage and leapfrog the Chicago Red Stars and Courage in the standings.

"She's the best goalkeeper in this league," said Thorns coach Mark Parsons. "She has continued to prove it for the last two years and now we got the band back together. I'm sure her form will continue to rise as it has each year.”

The battle of the 2017 and 2018 league champions drew a sellout crowd of 25,218 fans on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park. It was the first sellout since the Portland stadium was expanded to add more than 4,000 new seats.

The NWSL's previous single-game attendance record of 23,403 fans was set by the Orlando Pride for its first game in 2016.

It ranks as the second-largest crowd for a stand-alone match in the history of U.S. women’s professional soccer, trailing only the crowd of 34,148 fans for the inaugural WUSA match in 2001 at Washington's RFK Stadium between the Freedom and the Bay Area CyberRays.

But reflecting the growing interest in women's soccer in Mexico and Europe, the crowd ranks only 10th among the top women's club crowds for 2019.

Top 10: Women's Club Crowds (2019)
1. Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona (Spain, Liga Femenina), 60,739
2. Athletic Bilbao vs. Atletico Madrid (Spain, Copa de la Reina), 48,121
3. Manchester City vs. West Ham United (England, FA Cup), 43,264
4. Juventus vs. Fiorentina (Italy, Serie A Femminile), 39,027
5. Tigres vs. Monterrey (Mexico, Liga MX Femenil), 34,135
6. Monterrey vs. Tigres (Mexico, Liga MX Femenil), 31,736
7. Tigres vs. Monterrey (Mexico, Liga MX Femenil), 30,161
8. Leon vs. Club America (Mexico, Liga MX Femenil), 29,235
9. Lyon vs. Paris SG (France, Division I Fémenine), 25,907
10. Portland Thorns vs. NC Courage (USA, NWSL), 25,218

Photo: Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire

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