The Thorns beat the previous league record set by Orlando Pride in 2016, and have continued to ride the league's wave of booming popularity since the USWNT tasted victory at this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
USWNT players Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, Emily Sonnett and Adriana Franch were on show for the home side, while fellow World Cup winners Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper and Jessica McDonald featured for the visiting Courage side.
There were other World Cup players too, with Canadian pair Christine Sinclair and Stephanie Labbe playing for Portland and North Carolina respectively. Australia’s Caitlin Foord was also in the Thorns team, while New Zealand’s Abby Erceg played for the Courage.
"It's magic at this place, a sell-out crowd. I think on those two chances the crowd were pulling the ball into the back of the net."@mparsons_1 on today's record-breaking attendance and its effect on the match. #BAONPDX #PORvNC pic.twitter.com/E3kzcI4MVn— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) August 11, 2019
NWSL has boomed since the World Cup finished last month, with record crowds and sell out games marking the recent return of USWNT team players to club duty.
Portland fell behind in the game after an early goal from Dunn, but second half own goals from Labbe and Erceg – the latter in the final 10 minutes – secured the hosts a 2-1 win. The result was also enough to keep them top of the NWSL standings ahead of the Chicago Red Stars.
Red Stars, who have played a game fewer and are on a handsome winning streak, put the pressure on Portland on Saturday when a single goal from Yuki Nagasato was enough to beat a Washington Spirit side featuring World Cup Bronze Ball winner Rose Lavelle.
Elsewhere, Utah Royals enjoyed a second successive win after they beat Reign FC 3-1 on the road after goals from Katie Stengel, Lo’eau LaBonta and former USWNT player Amy Rodriguez. Reign remained without World Cup Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner Megan Rapinoe, who is still to feature for the Seattle team in the NWSL in the whole of 2019.
these are excellent. can't recommend watching them enough. pic.twitter.com/XH3EsoxnIH— Utah Royals FC (@UtahRoyalsFC) August 11, 2019
Struggling Orlando Pride couldn’t make it two wins a row after a goal from England international Rachel Daly gave Houston Dash a narrow 1-0 win in Florida. There was no Alex Morgan for Pride, with the USWNT co-captain making an appearance alongside Taylor Swift at the 2019 Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles the following night. Brazilian icon Marta was sent off in the match.