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More than a game: KC NWSL vs. Portland Thorns game notes

It’s a collective movement now; it’s more than a game. KC NWSL players joined their Portland Thorns counterparts for a moment of solidarity.

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Photo: NWSL / ISI Photos

KC NWSL took the field on Sunday afternoon, holding leading Portland Thorns at Legends Field to a 0-0 draw. The draw marks the fifth straight match at home with at least a point for Kansas City, making the case that KC is a far better team when they play at home.

Facing her former team, Adrianna Franch recorded her second clean sheet with Kansas City. The draw marks the fifth straight match at home with at least a point for Kansas City. It was also the third time KC faced Portland, and only the first time at home at Legends Field. In comparison to previous matchups, where the Thorns came out victorious, KC fared better in the final meeting between the two teams in 2021.

But for this game, as it has been all week since we learned of The Athletic’s report about allegations against former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, and the fallout surrounding the failure of the league and clubs, this week has been more about the game of soccer.

Last Wednesday, as teams returned to the pitch since the allegations following the postponement of the weekend’s games, every game featured a united front at the 6th minute. Play stopped, and players from both teams came together at midfield to honor the 6 years it took for Mana Shim, Sinead Farrelly, and all those who fought for too long to be heard. It was a powerful moment of solidarity for the players. And on Sunday, players from KC NWSL and Portland did the same right at Legends Field.

“Through the difficult times, I think’s really powerful to remember that sport is bigger than just us, and we’re really just striving to make the changes that we want to make to allow this to continue to be a league that we are proud to play win and for. We’re looking after one another,” midfielder Desiree Scott said post-game.

In the past week since the allegations, the tide has changed that hopefully allows players’ voices to be heard more, for clubs and owners to protect their players from any abusive conduct, and for the league to look beyond their own interests. It’s unfortunate that it took this long for stories such as Shim’s and Farrelly’s to become public, that a coach with a disturbing past was allowed to continue in the league, and that when the league had an opportunity to make things right, instead looked away, pretending nothing had ever occurred.

This week reminded us, that change must come to the NWSL, and one that gives the NWSL players full control of their future and livelihood. This is their league.