2022 NWSL Championship: Portland Thorns vs. Kansas City preview, how to watch, history

Splitscreen of Portland Thorns player Sophia Smith on the left and Kansas City player Desiree Scott on the right
Craig Mitchelldyer and Amy Kontras - USA Today Sports

WASHINGTON, DC — The Portland Thorns and Kansas City Current meet tonight in the 2022 NWSL Championship. Audi Field — home of the Washington Spirit — is hosting this year’s NWSL Final. See below for a preview of the game, details on how to watch, NWSL Championship history, and what’s at stake for both teams.

RECAP: Portland wins 2022 NWSL Championship, MVP Smith scores game winner

How to watch the 2022 NWSL Championship

For the first time ever, the 2022 NWSL Championship will air in primetime on network TV. Kickoff is set for 8pm ET on CBS. Fans can also livestream the game on Paramount+.

Portland Thorns – Starting XI

  • Bella Bixby
  • Meghan Klingenberg
  • Becky Sauerbrunn
  • Kelli Hubly
  • Natalia Kuikka
  • Sam Coffey
  • Rocky Rodriguez
  • Christine SInclair
  • Morgan Weaver
  • Yazmeen Ryan
  • Sophia Smith

Kansas City Current – Starting XI

  • Kristen Edmonds
  • Hailie Mace
  • Cece Kizer
  • Elizabeth Ball
  • Kate del Fava
  • Lo’eau LaBonta
  • Desiree Scott
  • AD Franch
  • Alex Loera
  • Kristen Hamilton
  • Addisyn Merrick

Portland Thorns vs. Kansas City Current – Results during 2022 NWSL season

The Portland Thorns and Kansas City Current met twice in the regular season. Portland won the first game — the regular-season opener — 3-0, while the two teams drew 1-1 in their most recent meeting (September 18).

“We are a different team now than we were then,” Kansas City defender Alex Loera told On Her Turf. “I think the whole group is just like, ‘Why not us? Why can’t we be the ones to win it all? We’re here.’ I think everyone knows we have such a great opportunity in front of us.”

How Portland and Kansas City reached the NWSL Final

Portland Thorns: While Portland just missed out on the NWSL Shield, the team earned a bye to the NWSL Semifinals as the No. 2 seed. The Thorns qualified for the NWSL Final by winning last week’s semifinal against the San Diego Wave, 2-1, with Crystal Dunn scoring the game-winner in stoppage time.

Kansas City Current: After finishing last in 2021, Kansas City had a slow start to the 2022 regular season, going winless in their first five games. They then went on a 13-game undefeated streak, the second-longest in NWSL history, and qualified for the NWSL Playoffs as the No. 5 seed.

To reach the NWSL Final, Kansas City had to win back-to-back away games. In the quarterfinal round, the Current defeated the Houston Dash, 2-1, with a thrilling stoppage time goal from Kate del Fava. They extended their historic playoff run with a 2-0 semifinal win vs. the OL Reign, with Alex Loera and Kristen Hamilton tallying goals.

RELATED: Kansas City Current bought in to reach 2022 NWSL Championship

NWSL Championship – History on the line

Portland Thorns:

  • Just by being here, the Portland Thorns are the first team in league history to qualify for four NWSL Championships.
  • If the Thorns win, they’ll make more history as the first NWSL team to claim three titles, having previously won in 2013 and 2017.
  • Still, it is Portland’s first championship appearance since 2018, when they lost 3-0 to a North Carolina Courage team that included Crystal Dunn.

Kansas City Current:

  • In their second season as a franchise, the Kansas City Current qualified for their first ever NWSL playoff appearance — and made it all the way to the Championship game. Pretty remarkable when you remember that the Current finished last in the 10-team NWSL table in 2021.
  • No NWSL team has ever reached the championship — let alone win it — after finishing last in the standings one season earlier.
  • Kansas City is also the lowest-ever seed (#5) to make the NWSL Championship (though the NWSL tournament only expanded from four to six seeds last year).

MORE NWSL COVERAGE: The Kansas City Current bought in to reach 2022 NWSL Championship

NWSL Championship History

  • 2013: Portland Thorns (defeated Western New York Flash, 2-0)
  • 2014: FC Kansas City (defeated Seattle Reign, 2-1)
  • 2015: FC Kansas City (defeated Seattle Reign, 1-0)
  • 2016: Western New York Flash (defeated Washington Spirit on penalties)
  • 2017: Portland Thorns (defeated North Carolina Courage, 1-0)
  • 2018: North Carolina Courage (defeated Portland Thorns, 3-0)
  • 2019: North Carolina Courage (defeated Chicago Red Stars, 4-0)
  • 2020: Not played due to Covid-19, Challenge Cup/Fall Series played instead
  • 2021: Washington Spirit (defeated Chicago Red Stars in extra time, 2-1)
  • 2022: ??

What they’re saying ahead of the NWSL Final

Christine Sinclair on why this year’s Portland Thorns team was able to reach this point:

“I think we headed to every year expecting to play in this (NWSL Championship) game tomorrow, expecting to be challenging for the Shield. But the thing about this team is — those young players that have come in, whether they’re rookies, whether it’s their second or third year — they’ve had such an impact on this team and have a unique combination of experience and youth. It’s a joy to go to work every day and be around this team and how tight we have become over the course of the season. It’s an exciting group and definitely one of the most talented ones I’ve ever been a part of, but we have one more game to go.”

Kansas City defender Kristen Edmonds on when she knew the team had something special:

“In preseason, I kept saying, ‘Something feels different’… We went to Florida for a month and within the first couple days, I just had this feeling, for me, something’s very different about this season.”

Becky Sauerbrunn on Portland’s mentality heading into tonight’s game:

“I think when you go into a championship match, everything’s so heightened and there’s so many extra things that are happening around the squad. As a veteran player, it’s kind of (my job) to bring us back to play soccer. We all know how to do this job. We’ve been doing it all season and obviously we’ve done it well enough to get to this point.”

Kansas City captain Desiree Scott on how the team rebounded from finishing last in 2021 to reach the 2022 NWSL Final:

“Obviously, coming off a not-so-great season previously, I think a lot of people wouldn’t have thought that we could get here. But as the season continued… I think that belief continued to grow with our winning streaks happening, just the way we were playing … We thought we can get here and here we are.”

Christine Sinclair on what it means for this year’s NWSL Final to air during primetime on a major network:

“We’ve both been fortunate to play in some pretty big games in our careers and this added exposure is exactly what the women’s game needs… I was fortunate to play in the first championship game and I think — outside of the people in Portland — no one knew that the game was happening. So I’d say it’s what this league, it’s what us as players deserve. This, women’s sports, in general, all they need is a chance. People will watch, people will come if given the opportunity to do so. For this game to be on primetime — on a major network — it’s just going to continue to grow the game to continue to inspire those youngsters watching. I’m a firm believer that young kids need to be able to see to believe that it can happen.”

RELATED: Sam Coffey on NWSL rookie season, USWNT debut and Yates report takeaways

Availability Report for the NWSL Final

Kansas City Current

  • Out: Jaycie Johnson (right leg), Claire Lavogez (right leg), Sam Mewis (SEI – right leg), Lynn Williams (SEI – right leg), Mallory Weber (SEI – right leg)
  • Questionable: Cece Kizer (concussion)
  • International Duty: None

Portland Thorns

  • Out: None
  • Questionable: None
  • International Duty: None

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Kaillie Humphries elevates another fresh U.S. face to podium status in two-woman bobsled World Cup

Kaillie Humphries of USA, Kaysha Love of USA in action at the 2 women's bobsleigh during Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
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PARK CITY, UTAH – Kaillie Humphries extended her podium streak on Saturday at the IBSF World Cup, where she and U.S. push athlete Jasmine Jones finished third in the two-woman bobsled.

The third-place finish in Park City marked the sixth podium for Humphries at the Park City track, which hosted the 2002 Olympics, and was Jones’ career-first World Cup podium in just her second World Cup start.

“This is our first race together, so really excited about that,” said the 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships titles. She earned her 29th career World Cup win on Friday in Park City in the women’s monobob.

“Definitely a work in progress. … The runs weren’t perfect, but I’m really happy with our starts, happy with our drives minus a few little mistakes. It’s a good starting point, and we’ll look to grow from here.”

Humphries and Jones finished with a combined, two-run time of 1:37.69, 0.32 behind winners Kim Kalicki and brakewoman Leonie Fiebig of Germany at 1:37.37. Fellow Germans Laura Nolte and Lena Neunecker were second at 0.23 back.

Kalicki and Fiebig broke a 16-year-old track record with their first run, laying down a time of 48.60 seconds and besting the time set by Americans Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming – the 2006 Olympic silver medalists – in December 2006 (48.73). It also marked the second straight victory for Kalicki, who’s won five career World Cup titles including last week’s two-woman bobsled race in Whistler, Canada.

“I was hoping Kaillie would get [the record],” said Rohbock, who is now a U.S. team coach and was on hand to see her record fall. “That first run there, she had that little skid in the bottom, so that didn’t help, but Kailee’s always putting up a great performance. And Jasmine, another great brakewoman, so we’re really lucky that we have that depth.”

For Team USA, it marked the second straight week that a fresh face earned her first podium finish while competing with Humphries. Last week in Whistler, push athlete Emily Renna and Humphries placed third in Renna’s first-ever World Cup appearance.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP COVERAGE: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“Being able to race with her was really special,” said the 29-year-old Renna, who was a college track athlete at University of Rhode Island. “It’s really nice to be around seasoned veterans. It definitely makes you feel better in the back sled with you when you’ve got a good pilot who knows the track.”

Renna finished in eighth place in Park City with 12-year U.S. team veteran and pilot Nicole Vogt (1:39.04). Vogt partnered with Jones in her first World Cup last week where they finished seventh in Whistler, 1.33 seconds behind winners Kalicki and German teammate Anabel Galander.

“To have an opportunity to be with Kaillie in my World Cup debut – it’s exciting,” said the 26-year-old Jones, who was a collegiate track and field athlete at Eastern Michigan. “I just feel like I have so much more in the tank to give, and I’m just hungry for it.”

Jones is particularly gratified with her performance after returning full-time to bobsled less than 18 months ago following the birth of her daughter, Jade Quinn Jones, in February 2021. The Greensburg, Pa., native returned to training just five months postpartum, having sat out the 2020-21 season. She competed on the North American Cup last year, finishing the season with a win (the third NA Cup title of her career) and a third place in Lake Placid.

“I’m thankful,” said Jones. “Opportunity is the main thing, and I just feel blessed to have my first World Cup podium. I’m screaming on the inside. I may not show it, but I am jumping for joy because I’m just that excited and happy to have this accomplishment.”

She admits, however, it’s not always easy to compete balance a full-time competitive career with being a mom.

“Sometimes it’s a struggle being away from my daughter,” said Jones, whose mom takes care of Jade while she travels. “I try to get my facetimes in every night and just know that when I’m pushing, I’m doing it for her. Hopefully sometime in the future I’ll have her around on the sidelines cheering me on, and that’s my main motivation – that this is for her.”

The BMW IBSF World Cup continues its North American swing Dec. 16-18 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Kaillie Humphries faces IVF journey head on — and collects monobob World Cup win along the way

Gold medallist Kaillie Humphries of Team United States celebrates during the Women's Monobob.
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PARK CITY, UTAH — Kaillie Humphries knew the quest to start a family would impact her 2022-23 season, but it’s certainly not slowing down Team USA’s reigning monobob Olympic gold medalist, who captured her first World Cup title in the discipline on Friday.

The 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic golds (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships, earned her 29th career World Cup win and her third victory on the Park City track, where she won the two-woman bobsled competitions in 2012 and 2016. Competing in Utah – as well as North American World Cup stops in Whistler last week and in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Dec. 17-18 – is one of the reasons that Humphries pushed pause on her journey to motherhood.

“I’m excited,” Humphries said following the win, marking her second straight podium in monobob following a third-place finish last week in Whistler. “I was excited for this year before it started. It’s part and parcel of why my husband and I delayed the IVF process and starting a family this season. To be able to be back in North America and have the first half of the season here – it’s been a long time since we’ve had that, so I wanted to be able to compete and it feels awesome.”

That’s not to say the leadup to this season has been without its share of hiccups. In fact, Humphries admits that following the Beijing Olympics, she had hoped to get pregnant immediately, but she and husband Travis Armbruster had to pivot when a diagnosis of stage 4 endometriosis made it clear that in vitro fertilization would be the best path for pregnancy.

“Right after the Olympics, I was like, ‘We’re going to get pregnant; it’s gonna be all good,’” she said. “I thought, my body has always performed, and it wasn’t going to be an issue. Fast forward to I find out we have to do IVF. We do the first egg retrieval, and it doesn’t go as well as I had hoped — which anybody that’s done this process knows, you can’t control any aspect of it. And so having to do a second round of egg retrieval, …it pushed everything back.”

What’s more, it brought Humphries’ training to a standstill at times, when she would have to limit all physical activity during the three-week period surrounding the egg-retrieval process.

“It impacted my training coming into this year a lot,” she says, “but I also think it definitely reset my hormones, which turns out I needed. I don’t think was a bad thing. I knew coming into this year, I wasn’t going to be in the same shape as I have been in the past, and I had to make peace with that. I know that each and every race I’m racing myself into shape, and each race is a preparation for January’s World Championships.”

Humphries also chose to share her IVF journey publicly, and she’s documented every step of the way, believing that her story makes it less scary not just for her but also for other women and female athletes who might be facing the same thing.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“My husband and I weren’t sure that we wanted to share it at first,” she admits. “But I felt it was important just to showcase this. I have nothing to hide. And as much as there are parts of me certain days when I think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ At the end of the day, I know I’m not alone in this.

“It’s important, I do have a voice, and I want other people to know, as an Olympic gold medalist, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Infertility exists in the female body, and it’s important that I talk about it in my journey and hopefully that’s inspired other people.”

She says she’s received an outpouring of support, which has been particularly gratifying as she continues to put a painful breakup with Team Canada in the rearview mirror. Humphries, who was born in Calgary, competed for Canada for 16 years, winning three Olympic medals including a bronze in Pyeongchang in 2018. But the relationship came to an abrupt end later just five months after the 2018 Games, after Humphries alleged emotional and mental harassment by a former coach.

Winning a gold medal in Beijing just two months after her U.S. citizenship was finalized proved to be turning point for Humphries, who commemorated the milestone with two new tattoos. She first added the date of her win – Feb. 14, 2022 – to the back of her left hand and a larger rose and skull illustration to the back of her right knee and calf, all of which commemorate her triumph over that darker period.

“The skull represents a rebirth and a growth, overcoming challenges and/or obstacles and turning something negative into something positive,” explains Humphries, who says she chose the rose because it’s the national flower of the U.S. as well as a symbol of love won or lost. She notes that she has “an actual Olympic one” planned for August 2024, which is when her favorite tattoo artist is next available.

Humphries has also found the silver lining in her IVF journey, as the competition season has been a welcome break from some of the self-imposed pressure.

“By pushing pause for four or five months and competing, it allowed me mentally to know that we can go into all of next summer and all winter focusing on just doing the actual embryo transfers and having a good pregnancy,” she says. “I don’t feel stressed to try and get pregnant right away. I felt like I was becoming competitive with myself, wondering why isn’t this working? Why can’t I do this? I tried to control too many things, and I started to get really frustrated. Mentally, it was hard. So, by pushing pause, going back to what I know — which is the sport, which is what I love – it’s allowed me to control a little bit of my future.”

Humphries’ season continues Saturday as the IBSF World Cup from Park City concludes with the two-woman bobsleigh.