: Craig Mitchelldyer/ Thorns

Newcomer’s Guide to the Portland Thorns

Let the Rose City's unstoppable soccer champs ignite your weekend.
February 21, 2023

Women’s History Month kicks off in March, and what better way to celebrate than to catch Oregon’s own history-making, fleet-footed professional soccer squad, the Portland Thorns. Whether you’re visiting Portland for the first time or just new to the sport, here’s your guide to feeling the energy the Thorns bring to the Rose City. 

One of Portland’s two soccer teams — the men’s Timbers is the other — the Thorns have gained acclaim as the only professional women’s team in the United States to win so many National Women’s Soccer League championships. The roster remains packed with star power and role models, including team captain Becky Sauerbrunn, a gifted defender and leader who has fought tirelessly for women’s rights and fair treatment in the young league. 

Meanwhile, phenomenon Sophia Smith, a forward who also plays for the wildly successful U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, was  crowned the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 2023 after scoring an impressive 14 goals in 18 regular season matches — one of the youngest players ever to receive the award. Her performance also earned her Most Valuable Player across the entire National Women’s Soccer League

Shot of soccer field with excited crowd.
Providence Park (Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/ Thorns)

How to Get Thorns Tickets

After the regular season starts (typically in late March), the Thorns will play 22 matches over 22 weeks with an additional six games as part of a Challenge Cup series, for a total of 28 matches in all. Fourteen of those will take place at Providence Park in Southwest Portland, where visitors should check out restaurants and shopping in the dynamic Goose Hollow neighborhood, nearby Forest Park, the Pearl District and Nob Hill. You can find tickets online. Be sure to swing by the PTFC Authentics shop just outside the stadium to pick up hats, scarves and other attire that will show your team pride. 

The most hardcore fans will sit — or, rather, stand, stomp and sing — from the north end of the stadium. That’s the realm of the Rose City Riveters, the women’s team-support, nonprofit organization that’s open to anyone to join in the section. Be prepared to participate and stand all game long if you choose to sit in that area (sections 106-108). Before you take your seats, download the lyrics to some of the songs you’ll hear or look for folks handing out cheat sheets.

Interior shot of a bar showing women sports on TV.
The Sports Bra (Photo by Christine Dong)

Find Thorns Fans and Watch the Game Together

You don’t have to have box seats to feel the energy the Thorns bring to Rose City, not with numerous restaurants and pubs that show every match. The Sports Bra, an official viewing location, is dedicated to women’s sports and serves healthier sports-bar fare made from scratch, like Greek salads and tempeh Reubens as well as burgers and wings. Try a zero-proof cocktail like a Grannie’s G&T or go full octane with the Hat Trick, a mix of spiced rum, apple cider, mint simple syrup and triple sec. The Hostel Cafe, another viewing venue, has loaded fries with either sausage or vegan gravy to take the stress out of just about any penalty kick. 

Grand Fir Brewing — a new brewery with the dream team of brewer Whitney Burnside, formerly of Portland’s 10 Barrel Brewing Co., and “Top Chef” finalist Doug Adams — serves smoked elk and Czech lagers among other delicious creations. You can always find die-hard fans at Gigantic Brewing Company, which recently opened its third Portland location.

Do parents want to watch the game while the kids do their thing, too? That’s no problem at Grand Central Bowl and Arcade. It has a bowling alley and an arcade as well as large TVs for watching teenage midfielder Olivia Moultrie work her magic. Bring the gang back together for buffalo wings and beer-battered cheese curds. 

Thorns soccer players celebrating.
The Thorns semi-final win at Providence Park. (Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/ Thorns)

Stay for the Weekend in Portland

Whether you’re watching the match at Providence Park or another venue, it’s easy to make a game the centerpiece of a stellar weekend getaway to Oregon’s largest city. The Hotel deLuxe sits within walking distance of the stadium, about two minutes away. It channels an old-school Hollywood elegance with airy rooms and lounges like the Driftwood Room, where scenes from the movie “Wild” were filmed. 

Also nearby, The Heathman Hotel is worth a stay as well. Don’t miss its impressive library, a two-story open space with more than 2,700 books signed by their authors. After so much cheering, you may need to treat yourself to Bar Diane, a natural wine bar in Slabtown, a neighborhood about a 15-minute walk away, that pours sparkling gamays and offers savory tins of European treats like mussels escabeche and Spanish sardines with piri piri peppers. 

About The

Tim Neville
Tim Neville is a writer based in Bend where he writes about the outdoors, travel and the business of both. His work has been included in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and Best Food Writing, and earned various awards from the Society of American Travel Writers and the Society of Professional Journalists. Tim has reported from all seven continents and spends his free time skiing, running and spending time with his family.

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