Jessica McDonald’s Brace Leads NC Courage To NWSL Title Over Portland, 3-0

A sellout crowd of 21,144 couldn’t will the Thorns past a Courage side that dominated the league from start to finish.

It’s official: The 2018 North Carolina Courage will go down as the finest side in NWSL history after dominating the Portland Thorns 3-0 in front of a sellout (and hugely pro-Thorns) crowd at Providence Park. Jessica McDonald was voted the game’s MVP after scoring a brace either side of halftime, but the Courage never looked back from Debinha’s opening goal in the 13th minute, dominating the entirety of the match much like they did the NWSL season.

The Courage were the NWSL Shield winners after finishing the regular season with only one loss, setting league records for wins (17), points (57) and goals scored (53). They completed their postseason mission by blanking Chicago 2-0 in the semifinals before recording today’s resounding victory.

Debinha got the courage off to a flying start after some poor defending at the back allowed the Brazilian to apply the finishing touch on a rebound.   

And further pressure from the Courage was finally rewarded five minutes before halftime — McDonald planting a header with Jaelene Hinkle providing the assist. 

Almost 20 minutes after the restart, the game was effectively over when McDonald scored her second with Merritt Mathias providing the assist. 

The Thorns used the backing of the crowd to dictate the match from a possession standpoint (60.5% - 39.5%) and completed 153 more passes than the Courage, but NC outshot Portland 23-14 and landed five shots on target as opposed to only three for the Thorns. 

In the end, the Courage got deserved revenge for last season’s defeat to Portland in the final.