NWSL contest turns chippy between Thorns, K.C. late in Challenge Cup match
3 players, coach shown red cards in Portland, where fans return in pandemic
Rocky Rodriquez and Tyler Lussi scored and the Portland Thorns welcomed their fans to Providence Park for the the first time in 545 days with a 2-1 victory over Kansas City on Friday night.
It was the first professional sporting event in Oregon to have fans in attendance since the Portland Trail Blazers on March 10 last year. State officials are allowing outdoor venues to host events at 25 per cent capacity, but fans are still not allowed at indoor arenas.
The game was part of the National Women's Soccer League pre-season Challenge Cup tournament, which opened Friday. In the earlier match Friday, the Houston Dash played at home to a scoreless draw with the Chicago Red Stars.
The game turned chippy in the final moments. Portland's Simone Charley, Morgan Weaver and coach Mark Parsons all got sent off with red cards, as did KC's Kristen Edmunds.
Morgan Weaver is innocent. <a href="https://t.co/pBBmsigzds">pic.twitter.com/pBBmsigzds</a>—@ThornsFC
Two K.C. players are also on national duty – Desiree Scott and Jordyn Listro – with the Canadian squad, which will learn its path to another Olympic podium when the draw to assign teams their opponents for the group stage at the Tokyo Games this summer is announced on April 21.
Regular season begins May 15
KC NWSL was founded in the off-season after the Utah Royals disbanded. Utah's players were moved to the new team.
Rodriguez scored in the eighth minute to give Thorns the early lead before Lussi's goal in the 58th. Veteran Amy Rodriguez scored the first goal for KC in the 60th.
🎥 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PORvKC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PORvKC</a>, as it happened 🎥<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CC21?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CC21</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/SecretDeodorant?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SecretDeodorant</a> <a href="https://t.co/358Adi8NuQ">pic.twitter.com/358Adi8NuQ</a>—@NWSL
Last summer the NWSL, entering its ninth season with 10 teams, became the first professional sports league to restart in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic with the inaugural Challenge Cup tournament, held in a bubble in Utah.
A few things are different about this year's Challenge Cup:
- It won't be played in a bubble, like last year's in Salt Lake City. Matches will take place in teams' home stadiums, with some fans in attendance where allowed.
- There are 10 teams this time, not eight. The Orlando Pride are back after missing the 2020 tournament because of an outbreak, while Racing Louisville FC joins as an expansion team. Also, New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC was rebranded as NJ/NY Gotham FC.
More than a dozen Canadians play in the NWSL, including four on the defending Challenge Cup champion Dash.
WATCH | CBC Sports' Signa Butler previews Canada's upcoming U.K. friendlies:
With files from CBC Sports