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NWSL Golden Boot race: Sophia Smith extends lead in Thorns return

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Sophia Smith controls the ball for the Portland Thorns. (Amanda Loman/Getty Images)

The 2023 World Cup is over, meaning the world’s best players are all returning to their club teams. And in the NWSL, the race for the Golden Boot is heating up.

Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith extended her lead over the weekend in her return from the World Cup. But with plenty of soccer left to play, there are several star goal-scorers who could make up the gap.


Sophia Smith, Portland Thorns (11 goals)

Smith wasted little time in her return to the NWSL from the U.S. women’s national team. The reigning NWSL MVP entered the Thorns’ game Sunday against the North Carolina Courage in the 68th minute and, in the 69th minute, found the back of the net.

On a run, Smith passed the ball to teammate Morgan Weaver, who quickly passed it back to Smith. The right-footed goal proved to be the difference in Portland’s 2-1 victory, even with the team being down a player due to a first-half red card.

Trending upward

Messiah Bright, Orlando Pride (6 goals)

The rookie scored twice in the Pride’s 5-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, marking her first professional brace. It was her first time scoring since July 7. The No. 21 pick in the 23 NWSL Draft, Bright has picked up right where she left off at TCU, where she set the program record for all-time goals.

Other top scorers

8 goals

Ashley Hatch, Washington Spirit
Kerolin, North Carolina Courage

7 goals

Lynn Williams, Gotham FC

6 goals

Messiah Bright, Orlando Pride
Debinha, Kansas City Current

5 goals

Bethany Balcer, OL Reign
Savannah DeMelo, Racing Louisville
Crystal Dunn, Portland Thorns
Cece Kizer, Kansas City Current
Tyler Lussi, North Carolina Courage
Alex Morgan, San Diego Wave
Ashley Sanchez, Washington Spirit