2017 NWSL Championship: Portland Thorns' standout players

The Portland Thorns have made it to the championship! It took a lot of hard work to get to where they are and there were some key players who helped get the team to where they are. Take a look at the major players who contributed to the success of the Thorns this season.

2017 NWSL Championship: Portland Thorns' standout players
Christine Sinclair, Lindsay Horan, Emily Sonnett and Hayley Raso | Photo: Nikita Taparia, stepoverfc.com

The Portland Thorns are heading to the finals! Without a doubt it took a lot of hard work to get where they are today. After a tough 3-4 loss against the Western New York Flash in last years semifinals the Thorns were more than ready for redemption. The Thorns handed the Orlando Pride a 4-1 loss and are getting ready to play in the finals at Orlando City Soccer Stadium as they take on the same team (different name) that kicked them out of the playoffs just last year, the North Carolina Courage. 

Portland finished in second place with a record of 14-5-5 (47 points). Scoring 37 goals and allowing only 20. This wasn't all luck though. The Thorns have a roster stacked with talented players from all over the world. Some of them stood out more than others. Let's take a look back at the players that stood out the most and helped the Thorns go to Orlando. 

Adrianna Franch

We start with the girl in between the pipes. Adrianna Franch played every minute of every game in the goal for the Thorns this season. In case you were wondering, that's 2,160 minutes and she is one of the only six players to do so this season. Not only that but Franch was a huge part of only allowing 20 goals, which is the fewest in the NWSL and that's not all.

Franch set the NWSL record with recording 11 shutouts in a single season. Also, Franch made 80 saves, had the best save percentage (80%) and recorded a 0.83 goals against average. Franch was also nominated for Goalkeeper of the Year and named the goalkeeper for the Best XI. 

Adrianna Franch | Photo: Our Game Magazine
Adrianna Franch | Photo: Our Game Magazine

Emily Sonnett

Next up we have Emily Sonnett. Sonnett was a key part of the strong defense for the Thorns this season and even last season. This is just her second year with the Thorns and she has already found a home at center defender.

Sonnett finished the year with 3 goals and 1 assist. Two of those goals ended up to be game winners and the other one was one that helped the Thorns get to the finals. Sonnett has been seen to shut down star players like Alex Morgan and Lynn Williams. She has been a key player for the Thorns defense and she as well as Franch played every minute of the season. 

Emily Sonnett | Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer, Portland Thorns FC
Emily Sonnett | Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer, Portland Thorns FC

Christine Sinclair

Captain, oh captain. As Sinclair hits her fourth season with the Thorns she continues to be a standout player. Now, some people may be looking at this and thinking that she hasn't been as active as usual with goal scoring but she has been the reason for most of the goals this season.

It all started when Mark Parsons decided to move Sinclair to the number 10 spot so she was more of a holding midfielder. Sinclair was able to create chance after chance and get the ball moving in the middle. Not only was she able to create chances for other people she was able to create them for herself as well. Sinclair led the Thorns this season with 8 goals and played a total of 2,143 minutes for the Thorns. 

Christine Sinclair | Photo: Portland Timbers FC: timbers.com
Christine Sinclair | Photo: Portland Timbers FC: timbers.com

Hayley Raso

Raso, Raso, Raso! Oui, Oui, Oui! This was the year for the Australians in the NWSL and Raso definitely showed the league that she was a force to be reckoned with. Raso played a total of 1,783 minutes for the Thorns. She recorded 6 goals and 3 assists. Raso also had a total of 36 shots on goal and created chance after chance for her Portland team.

The PDX Riveters voted her the Supporters Player of the Year. After being signed late last year by the Thorns Raso showed what she could do and became an important piece in the starting lineup for the Thorns. With her speed and skill, Raso is a tough player for defenders to shut down. 

Hayley Raso | Photo: Portland Timbers FC: timbers.com
Hayley Raso | Photo: Portland Timbers FC: timbers.com

The Team

Now, if you go and look at the roster you might have a difficult time picking out just a couple of stand out players. In reality, the Portland Thorns have such a strong, talented team that it is incredibly hard to not name every person on the roster and describe what a great season they have had. So, here is a few honorable mentions for the entire Portland Thorns team.

Starting with the defense that allowed the fewest goals in the NWSL for the past 2 seasons. Katherine Reynolds, Emily Menges, Emily Sonnett, Meghan Klingenberg, Kelli Hubly, Britt Eckerstorm and Adrianna Franch. Next up, the midfield. The group of players that Mark Parsons most likely struggles the most with finding positions on the field, for all of them. Lindsay Horan, Allie Long, Dagny Brybjarsdottir, Kendall Johnson, Tobin Heath, Amandine Henry and Celeste Boureille. Finally, the forwards. The offense was able to score a total of 37 goals (5th in the NWSL) this season. Nadia Nadim, Christine Sinclair, Ashleigh Sykes, Hayley Raso, Mallory Weber, Tyler Lussi and of course the two injured forwards in Savannah Jordan and Meg Morris.

The Portland Thorns will look to stand out one last time against the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL Championship. You can watch the game on Lifetime at 4:30 pm ET on Saturday, October 14th.