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Christine Sinclair returns to Thorns to chase fourth NWSL title

Christine Sinclair celebrates with the Canadian flag after winning her third NWSL title with the Thorns. (Ira L. Black/Getty Images)

Christine Sinclair is returning to the NWSL champion Portland Thorns on a one-year contract, making 2023 her 11th season in the league, all with the Thorns.

The veteran announced her return at Portland’s championship parade on Tuesday night, three days after the club won a record third NWSL championship with a 2-0 win over the Kansas City Current and on the same day that her memoir, “Playing the Long Game,” was released. The Thorns later confirmed that Sinclair’s option has been exercised for the 2023 season.

“So, I’m announcing it here: I’ll be back next year!” Sinclair said to a chorus of cheers from the Thorns fans in attendance.

“To win a fourth one of those,” she added, pointing to the NWSL trophy. “And f–k Seattle.” (OL Reign, previously the Seattle Reign as one of the NWSL’s original clubs, are longstanding rivals of the Thorns.)

Sinclair, 39, has been a part of all three of the Thorns’ championship teams, starting her career with the club for the NWSL’s inaugural season in 2013. This season, the captain scored five goals across 12 starts and 14 appearances for Portland, which led the league in overall goals scored with 49.

Despite not starting in Portland’s semifinal win over the San Diego Wave on Oct. 23, Sinclair re-entered the starting lineup for the championship game and helped establish the Thorns’ attack, which had 18 shots to Kansas City’s nine.

Sinclair was one of the 22 NWSL players to be granted free-agency status when an independent arbitrator ruled in favor of the NWSL Players Association earlier this month. The NWSL and NWSLPA had disputed the interpretation of a clause in the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, with the league arguing that any player with a pending year option on their contract was not eligible for free agency unless their team declined that option. The NWSLPA made the case that all players with at least six years of service and an expiring contract were eligible.

As a result of the ruling, Sinclair joined NWSL stars Tobin Heath, Debinha and others in the free agency pool.

Now locked up for at least one more year, Sinclair will compete for another NWSL championship as well as a 2023 World Cup title with Canada. The all-time leading goal-scorer in international soccer history helped Canada win its first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.