Thorns FC's Rachel Buehler scores goal against Mexico before racing home for championship celebration
Shortly after Portland Thorns FC’s NWSL Championship 2-0 win against Western New York Flash on Saturday, defender Rachel Buehler traveled to Washington, D.C. to reunite with the U.S. Women’s National Team for a friendly against Mexico. In a 7-0 rout of El Tri on Tuesday night, Buehler made her presence known scoring an unassisted goal in the 55th minute, three minutes after coming on for U.S. captain Christine Rampone.
Because the Thorns’ NWSL Championship celebration was scheduled for Wednesday at JELD-WEN Field in Portland, it didn’t appear that she was going to make it back in time to participate. But Buehler remained determined.
“I saw it was possible if I changed my flight,” said Buehler to reporters following Wednesday’s event at the stadium. “I just wanted to be there to experience it all and be able to soak in the victory and celebrate with the fans and also to say thank you to the fans for everything they’ve been and done for us.”
It is a common theme voiced again and again by Thorns FC throughout this memorable season: Portland has the best soccer fans in the United States. Wednesday was no different with hundreds of fans joining Thorns players, head coach Cindy Parlow Cone, owner Merritt Paulson and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales in recognizing the team’s historic win.
“I just felt like if I could make it happen, I needed to make it happen,” Buehler explained. “I’m just so glad I was able to be here to experience this and just say thank you to everybody because there are so many people that deserve thanks.”
It’s an impact that has clearly rubbed off on the stalwart Thorns defender as Buehler has already decided to make the Rose City her offseason home this year. After 20 appearances for the Thorns in 2013 and contributing 2 assists, Buehler feels the experience of winning the inaugural NWSL Championship for a city like Portland ranks right up there with many of her other international accomplishments which include a 2012 Olympic gold medal.
“It’s hard to describe,” she said. “There’s something about the smaller, tight-knit community here. Feeling that pride in your city is a little different than your country, and it’s hard to compare. Coming back to this today was right up there with anything else I’ve experienced.”