April 23rd, 2024

Canadian Janine Beckie scores twice for Portland in return from knee surgery

By The Associated Press on March 16, 2024.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CP-AP) – Canadian international Janine Beckie, returning from knee surgery, scored twice in a losing cause Saturday as the Portland Thorns were beaten 5-4 by Kansas City in the regular-season opener for the National Women’s Soccer League.

The game was the first in Kansas City’s new CPKC Stadium.

Beckie came in at halftime, nearly a year to the day that she tore her anterior cruciate ligament. She opened her account in the 71st minute, when she slotted a ball from a corner kick underneath goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

Beckie added a highlight-reel consolation goal with a long-range rocket in the 91st.

Former Canada skipper Christine Sinclair captained Portland with current Canadian captain Jessie Fleming making her first NWSL start since joining the Thorns from England’s Chelsea.

Vanessa DiBernardo, Bia Zaneratto, Kristen Hamilton, Alex Pfeiffer and rookie Ellie Wheeler scored for the Current. Sophia Smith also had two goals for the Thorns.

The Current were hurt in the 32nd minute when Brazilian star Debinha, a finalist for last year’s league MVP award, left the game with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

It was the first game at CPKC Stadium, which the team says is the first U.S. stadium built expressly for women’s pro soccer. The privately financed US$120-million facility sits on the banks of the Missouri River and seats 11,500.

Saturday’s game was a sellout. It also was the first NWSL game broadcast on ABC as part of the league’s new media rights deal. The NWSL inked a new broadcast deal worth US$60 million annually that will feature the league’s matches on ESPN networks, CBS Sports, Amazon Prime Video and Scripps Sports.

Zaneratto, who has played in four Women’s World Cups for Brazil and was signed by the Current earlier this season, scored before Smith made it 3-1 in the 43rd minute with an assist by Fleming.

Hamilton and Pfeiffer added second-half goals to extend the Current’s lead to 5-1. But Portland rallied with Beckie’s goal in the 71st minute and Smith’s second in the 74th.

The Current won their first game under Vlatko Andonovski, the former U.S. national team coach, who also coached at FC Kansas City, one of the league’s founding teams that played from 2013 to 2017.

Andonovski also coached two seasons with the Reign before taking over the U.S. national team. He parted ways with the team following the U.S. exit at the Women’s World Cup last year.

Brittany and Patrick Mahomes, part of the Current’s ownership group, kicked off the game with a “K.C., baby!” chant.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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