PORTLAND — Portland captain Christine Sinclair scored in the 67th minute and the Thorns beat the Orlando Pride 2-0 on Saturday in their National Women’s Soccer League season opener.
Nadia Nadim scored on a penalty kick in the 32nd minute for the Thorns, who were awarded the NWSL Shield for the best regular-season record last year before the game. A banner marking the honor was also unveiled at Providence Park.
It is the fifth season for the NWSL, which has lasted longer than any other women’s professional league in the United States.
The Thorns went 12-3-5 last season before losing in the semifinals at home to the Western New York Flash, who went on to win the league championship before moving to North Carolina in the offseason.
It was a disappointing finish for the team, which is loaded with talent including national team players Tobin Heath, Allie Long, Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Sonnett and Lindsey Horan, as well as France’s Amandine Henry and Canadian star Sinclair.
Heath was not available for the opener Saturday because of a lingering back injury.
The Pride were without two key players. Alex Morgan, who is playing in France for Lyon, is expected to be back in June.
The league’s biggest offseason signing, Brazilian star Marta, was not yet with the Pride because she is securing a visa.
The five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year known by just her first name has played in Sweden in recent years, but she previously played in the United States from 2009-11 in the now-defunct WPS and helped the Western New York Flash to the league title in 2011.
The Thorns had two good chances in the first half, but Nadim slid out in front of Ashlyn Harris’ goal in the 14th minutes. Harris also made a diving save in the 24th minute before Nadim’s penalty kick.
Portland goalkeeper Adrianna Franch stopped Kristen Edmonds’ free kick in the 76th minute.
Saturday marked opening day for the league with four games. In an earlier match, the Houston Dash defeated the visiting Chicago Red Stars 2-0.
The game in Portland Saturday was the first to be televised nationally on the Lifetime channel, as part of an offseason deal struck with A+E Networks, which bought a stake in league and became a sponsor.
The Thorns’ opener was also the first of a unique doubleheader. Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers were set to play Sporting KC in the nightcap. The Thorns are among three NWSL teams aligned with MLS teams, joining the Pride and the Houston Dash.