Portland Thorns’ Sam Coffey, Sophia Smith named to 2023 NWSL Best XI

Portland Thorns soccer

Portland Thorns midfielder Sam Coffey (#17) passes ahead during a semifinal match of the NWSL playoffs against NJ/NY Gotham FC at Providence Park on Sunday, Nov. 5 2023. Sean Meagher/The Oregonian

The Portland Thorns’ pair of NWSL MVP candidates are officially among the league’s Best XI for 2023.

Sam Coffey and Sophia Smith were named to the NWSL Best XI first team on Monday, the league announced. Both players received their second career selection to the league’s first team and await the results of MVP voting later this week.

Coffey, 24, was one of two Thorns players to start and play in all 22 games in the regular season. She led NWSL with eight assists at the holding midfield spot, just the second-ever Thorns player to lead the league in assists after Tobin Heath did it in 2016. Coffey’s consistent and at times dominant play from box to box led Portland to the second-best record in the league during the regular season, and her eight assists were to seven different teammates — the most in league history.

Smith, 23, is the reigning league MVP and led NWSL with 11 goals scored to go along with five assists. She is one of just two players in the league to be top five in both goals and assists. She had two hat tricks in 16 total appearances for the Thorns during the regular season, winning the golden boot despite missing several games down the stretch due to an MCL sprain.

Portland did not have any other players named to either the Best XI first or second teams, a surprise to many in NWSL circles considering the breakout season Morgan Weaver had at the forward spot for the Thorns. Portland was eliminated from the NWSL playoffs Sunday night with a 1-0 defeat in extra time to NJ/NY Gotham FC.


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