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Nicole Payne suffers defeat in NWSL debut with Portland Thorns



By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde

Nigerian defender Nicole Payne endured a disappointing debut in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) as her team, Portland Thorns, kicked off the 2024 season with a narrow 5-4 loss against Kansas City Current on Saturday.

The match, which marked the inauguration of the newly constructed CPKC Stadium, witnessed Vanessa DiBernardo netting the historic first goal of the season in the 22nd minute.

Ellie Wheeler swiftly added to the tally three minutes later, followed by a goal from Brazil’s Bia Zaneratto to give the hosts a commanding 3-0 lead.

Despite a goal from Sophia Smith for the visitors just before halftime, Kansas City continued to press forward. Kristen Hamilton and Alexandra Pfeiffer further extended their lead, putting Portland Thorns in a challenging position.

However, a spirited comeback ensued, with Smith netting her second goal and Janine Beckie adding a brace, including a late strike that brought Portland Thorns within touching distance.

Despite Payne’s full 90-minute debut, it was not a favorable outing for the Portland Thorns defenders, as they struggled to contain the relentless attack from Kansas City Current.

Payne, who is on loan from the French side PSG, will be eager to bounce back from this defeat and make a significant impact in upcoming matches for Portland Thorns.