- Portland Thorns superstar Sophia Smith was named MVP of the National Women’s Soccer League this year.
- The 22-year-old knew that there are some “people who don’t think I deserve to win MVP.”
- She scored an early goal in the NWSL title game, then shrugged like Michael Jordan as a message to skeptics.
When Sophia Smith lets her play do the talking, there’s nothing left to say except “that’s that.”
Heading into Saturday night’s National Women’s Soccer League Championship matchup between the Kansas City Current and her Portland Thorns, the 2022 league MVP knew that some fans were unhappy that she’d received the NWSL’s top individual award just one day prior.
Whether those skeptics were advocating for one of the league’s other stars or just weren’t fond of the Thorns and their 22-year-old superstar, Smith made a point to show them why they were mistaken.
Just four minutes into the title game — which aired in primetime on CBS — Smith broke away from the defense just outside the 18-yard box and challenged Kansas City goalkeeper AD Franch one-on-one. She cut left to maneuver around the two-time NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year and tapped the ball into the wide-open net.
—National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) October 30, 2022
Smith kept her celebration cool and understated, channeling Michael Jordan’s iconic shrug from the 1992 NBA Finals, as if to say, “How about that?”
But much like His Airness, the Stanford Cardinal standout-turned-USWNT starter is plenty assured in her abilities. She knew exactly what she could do with the ball at her feet, knew that she was perfectly deserving of becoming the youngest-ever MVP in NWSL history, and she knew she’d done more than enough to earn NWSL Championship MVP along with her team’s third title.
—Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) October 30, 2022
“I just did it,” Smith said of the celebratory shrug during the post-game press conference. “There’s been a lot of people who don’t think that I deserve to win MVP. So that was a little bit of, you know, that’s that.”
Smith won’t have much time to marinate in the glory of her NWSL domination. She’s been selected for the USWNT’s 24-player roster for a pair of upcoming friendlies against Germany, the world’s third-ranked women’s national team.
Fans can catch Game 1 vs Germany Thursday, November 10 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1. Three days later, the two powerhouses will face off on ESPN at 5 p.m. ET.