The Thorns: Underappreciated Champions of Women’s Soccer in Portland


Harper Wicker-Lenseigne (he/him), Staff Writer

The Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns are the two professional soccer teams in Portland, Oregon. The Timbers, a men’s team, play in Major League Soccer, while the Thorns, a women’s team, play in the National Women’s Soccer League. Despite the fact that the Thorns are more skilled respective to their league, they are given different treatment.

It’s clear that the Timbers are the “main product” of the Portland soccer teams. The Thorns don’t have their own website; it’s just a subset of the Timbers’ website. However, Thorns and Timbers tickets are usually the same price; both hover around $20 to $30. According to Transfermarkt, the Timbers have 23,000 fans in attendance on average, while the Thorns are close behind at 20,000 fans on average.

General admission (GA) season tickets are $515 for the Timbers, compared to only $180 for GA Thorns tickets. Thorns games are typically more affordable and ticket purchasing is less competitive. At Thorns games you don’t need wristbands to enter early in order to get better seats, like at Timbers games.

While both the Thorns and the Timbers are good soccer teams, the Thorns are much more consistent and generally equivalent to the Timbers or better. The Thorns have won their league’s championship 3 times, most recently in 2022. However, the Timbers have only won their league once, in 2015. They came close in 2021, losing during penalty kicks in the MLS Cup match.

Despite all of this, the Thorns players are paid less than their male counterparts. According to Statista, most starting Timbers players make between $300,000 to $500,000. Meanwhile, NWSL players average a salary of $120,000.

The Thorns matches are also a slightly different experience. The games feel more relaxed, but that’s not to say there isn’t still chanting and celebration. Their games are often more exciting to watch, considering that they admittedly win more often. Currently, the Thorns lead their league, with 7 points in 3 games. So far, the Timbers’ stats have been more disappointing, with 2 wins, 2 draws, and 4 losses, although a recent upset against the Seattle Sounders may be an indicator of better results ahead.

The Timbers and Thorns are both representatives of the city of Portland when it comes to soccer. However, the Thorns are underappreciated as a major contributor to the popularity of soccer in Portland. If you’d like to attend more soccer games in Portland, you might want to consider both the Thorns and the Timbers next time.