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‘Icons of the game’: How Sauerbrunn and Sinclair guided Thorns to title

(Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)

Portland’s record third championship was built on the backs of veterans.

While a plethora of young talent in stars like Sophia Smith and Sam Coffey, the veteran presence of Becky Sauerbrunn and Christine Sinclair has not gone unnoticed as the team has navigated the season.

Sinclair has been part of the club since 2020 while Sinclair has been a member of the Thorns since the NWSL’s inception in 2013.

“It’s been a journey, had ups and downs, but I’m just so proud of this group,” said Sinclair postgame. “We stuck together. This was the goal at the start of the year. It’s been a while since we’ve brought this trophy back to Portland and, yeah, this is pretty special.”

First-year head coach Rhian Wilkinson said Sauerbrunn and Sinclair have been instrumental to the team’s success, calling the pair “icons of the game.”

“This is a leader-full team and we have incredible icons of the game on the field,” said Wilkinson. “And a Becky Sauerbrun, Christine [Sinclair], there’s no other word for them. You just see them show up and play different roles.”

Sauerbrunn’s leadership in helping players like Kelli Hubly navigate the Kansas City Current’s transition game was instrumental in the team’s defense being able to shut down the attack.

“This one’s special personally,” Sinclair said of the Thorns’ third championship. “It’s been a rough year and obviously everything that’s been happening around the club to be able to bring this championship back to Portland, to our organization, to the fans, this one means a lot.”