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NWSL Beginnings: Searching for a tree before the Thorns epiphany

Illustration: Rachel Breton

NWSL Beginnings is a subscribers-only series looking at how teams in the league got their names and identities. Click here to read about how the Reign were supposed to be called the Sirens. Need to subscribe? Start your seven-day free trial now.


Portland was the only National Women’s Soccer League franchise to share ownership with a Major League Soccer team when the NWSL formed in late 2012.

The Portland Timbers hadn’t yet completed their second full season in MLS. Employees around what is now known as Providence Park were only just settling into the rhythm of the long professional soccer season when word came that they’d be launching another team.

The Timbers brand had existed for decades in other capacities and leagues. This time, they needed to develop a name and a brand from scratch for this new women’s team.

“One of the fundamental truths about how we were going to do it was it was going to be an all-out, fully integrated, top-down, everybody-all-in effort,” president of business Mike Golub says now.

This is the story of how the Portland Thorns FC name and brand came into existence.

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