NWSL matches resume amid player protests, Portland GM discipline

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The eyes of the soccer world have been paying attention to how the National Women’s Soccer League will evolve in the wake of the sexual coercion and harassment allegations against longtime coach Paul Riley.

A game-changing report from The Athletic’s Meg Linehan shed light on the Portland Thorns’ removing Riley from his position and his hiring from another NWSL club in New York before moving with the club to North Carolina.

Widespread outrage over the allegations has had the NWSL front-and-center, and the two alleged victims — Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly — were joined by former teammate and USWNT superstar Alex Morgan on TODAY earlier this week after this weekend’s postponed league matches.

Matches resumed Wednesday and were paused at the six-minute mark, which saw players gather inside the center circle to note the six years it took for the allegations to surface in the media.

Both the NWSL and the Thorns are having independent investigations conducted in order to review the incidents, which have already caused commissioner Lisa Baird to resign and U.S. Soccer to take away Riley’s coaching license.

Portland players made a list of demands to owner Merritt Paulson that led to general manager Gavin Wilkinson being put on administrative leave from the Thorns, though he reportedly will continue to work for the MLS’ Timbers at the time of posting.

Thorns and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson has posted an open letter on Timbers.com pledging change from within his organization.

The protests were not limited to players, as fans chanted “Protect our players” during the Thorns match against the Houston Dash.