Sinclair, Beckie help Thorns defeat Wave, set up NWSL championship match with Current
Olympic gold medallists come off bench to help Portland secure final berth
Canadians Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie came off the bench to help the Portland Thorns secure a 2-1 victory over the visiting San Diego Wave on Sunday and set up a National Women's Soccer League championship match with the Kansas City Current.
Crystal Dunn, who also came on as a substitute, has been easing her way back after giving birth to a son five months ago. Her goal from out front came off a corner about three minutes into stoppage time.
Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan played the full match for the Wave.
Absolute scenes.<a href="https://twitter.com/Cdunn19?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Cdunn19</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BAONPDX?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BAONPDX</a> <a href="https://t.co/vHLjUUEWpC">pic.twitter.com/vHLjUUEWpC</a>—@ThornsFC
In the other semifinal, Canada's Desiree Scott played a full match in a Kansas City 2-0 win over the top-seeded OL Reign, winners of this season's Supporters Shield.
Alexis Loera and Kristen Hamilton scored for the Current. Olympic champions Quinn and Jordyn Huitema were both starters for OL Reign.
COOL. CALM. KRISTEN HAMILTON.<a href="https://twitter.com/khamilton17?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@khamilton17</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CurrentRising?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CurrentRising</a> <a href="https://t.co/PBKLjHN9AF">pic.twitter.com/PBKLjHN9AF</a>—@thekccurrent
The semifinals come amid continuing fallout over an investigation that found systemic misconduct and abuse across the league.
U.S. Soccer commissioned former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates to investigate following a series of scandals that rocked the NWSL last season.
Yates' report came out earlier this month. In it, she detailed the Thorns' handling of harassment and sexual coercion allegations levelled at former coach Paul Riley.
The announced crowd was 22,030 at Portland's Providence Park. Fans came out in support of the players but there have been calls for Thorns owner Merritt Paulson to sell the team.
"The players needed it. They needed to see that they're loved," Thorns coach Rhian Wilkinson said.
Taylor Kornieck put the Wave up early with a header off a cross from Alex Morgan in the eighth minute. The Thorns equalized with Rocky Rodriguez's volley off a bounce in the 20th.
The Thorns have won two NWSL championships, in 2013 and 2017. The Wave are new to the 12-team league this season.
From last place to the championship match
In Seattle, Loera scored for the Current three minutes into the match. Hamilton added a goal in the 63rd to stun the Reign. It was Current goalkeeper Adrianna Franch's third career playoff shutout.
The announced attendance at Seattle's Lumen Field was 21,491.
It's been quite the journey for Kansas City, which finished at the bottom of the league last season.
"You can just tell from our development over the course of the season that we're in a really good spot where we're not quite at the top, but we're peaking at the times we need to be peaking," Franch said. "Our team is just freaking phenomenal."
With files from CBC Sports