NWSL’s Physicality At The Forefront As Portland Thorns Top The Log

Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji

While the NWSL is in an exciting race to the playoffs, the league’s infamous level of physicality was once again a main topic of conversation this week.

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The league’s tendency to avoid “star calls” possibly puts players at risk, Portland star Sophia Smith pointed out on Tuesday.

“I will be practicing how to shoot the ball when both legs get completely taken out from under me,” she wrote on Twitter.

She quote tweeted a video of a collision in the box during the team’s 1-1 draw with Kansas City on Sunday that went uncalled.

“Fouls like this are exactly how I broke my leg in college, that’s why they can’t go unnoticed,” she added.


Thorns teammate Kelli Hubly responded, saying that she too would be “learning how to take a knee and cleat to the ribs without thinking my rib cage is broken.”

Smith wasn’t the only attacker dealing with blows over the weekend.

After Chicago’s 1-0 loss to Houston on Saturday, head coach Chris Petrucelli said that Mallory Pugh “got hit more than she’s gotten hit in any other match.”

Refereeing issues in the NWSL are systemic and the league is slowly responding, but if players are airing frustrations on social media, they are indicating that they do not feel protected at the moment.


After a 3-0 win over Racing Louisville on Thursday, the Portland Thorns moves to the top of the NWSL log with 35 points, a point better than OL Reign.

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Sophia Smith, Samanta Coffey, and Olivier Moultrie scored three goals in the second half to propel Portland Thorns to the league summit.

OL Reign, North Carolina Courage, and Angel City FC all recorded victories.

2022 US NWSL Results for Thursday, September 22, 2022

Gotham FC 0-1 OL Reign

Orlando Pride 0-3 North Carolina Courage

Portland Thorns 3-0 Racing Louisville

Angel City FC 2-1 Washington Spirit

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