Sophia Smith celebrates her goal. (NWSL Photo)

Sophia Smith continued her mercurial rise toward the top of the U.S. women’s soccer world Saturday night, by pacing the Portland Thorns to their third National Women’s Soccer League championship.

Smith scored the first goal and helped set up the second, an own goal, as Portland defeated the Kansas City Current, 2-0, at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.

The Thorns endured a difficult year off the field, especially after the Sally Q. Yates Report was released several weeks ago. The team was in the middle of the sexual misconduct as former Portland head coach Paul Riley allegedly was involved with misconduct with several players.

“They would have been within their rights to just completely collapse after these last few weeks, like the time of the report coming out and it was hard,” head coach Rhian Wilkinson said. “It was really hard.”

Smith, the U.S. women’s national team breakout star of 2022, took over the NWSL universe this past week by becoming the youngest MVP winner at the age of 22 years. She also has filled the net for the U.S. women’s national team as it qualified for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.

Not surprisingly, Smith also earned MVP honors for her superlative performance in the final.

“It’s at the beginning of her career,” Wilkinson said. “I think I mentioned it the other day that she can stop pushing now and she’ll still be a very good player, one of the best players this country’s produced.

“My job is to keep pushing her and to make sure she’s the best player this country’s ever produced because she has that in her right now. You see her taking on three defenders and we’re all used to seeing it. It’s almost become an expectation that Sophie will take on three people and get a shot off, which is insane.

“Her next level her next evolution is because she brings so many people and how she passes and then gets the ball again like how does she create space for self because the field gets very small for her very quickly but we saw today you give her a sniff at net like she makes something out of nothing. What a gift to have her on your team.”

The Thorns took advantage of Kansas City mistakes before 17,624 fans.

Only four minutes after the opening kickoff, Portland grabbed the lead. Elizabeth Ball misplayed a through ball by Yazmeen Ryan. Smith had no problems collecting it before beating goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

In the 56th minute, Ryan sent in a cross in for a streaking Smith. The forward couldn’t connect, but Kansas City could not get the ball out of harm’s way and it ended up in the goal behind Franch for a two-goal advantage.

Rockville Centre, N.Y. native Crystal Dunn replaced captain Christine Sinclair in the 73rd minute.