Sophia Smith becomes NWSL's highest-paid player with new Thorns extension

FILE - Portland Thorns FC forward Sophia Smith (9) controls the ball during an NWSL soccer match against NJ/NY Gotham FC, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Portland, Ore. Sophia Smith had options but in the end felt like she “wasn't done” in Portland. The Thorns announced Wednesday, March 27, that they have signed Smith to a contract extension through 2025, with a player option for 2026. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman, FIle)
Sophia Smith and the Thorns have been a very good partnership so far. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman, FIle)

Sophia Smith became the latest NWSL star to sign a new deal Wednesday, becoming the league's highest-paid player in the process.

The Portland Thorns announced they had agreed with Smith on a contract that will tie the 23-year-old to them through the 2025 season, with a player option for 2026. ESPN reports the deal contains the highest average annual value in the league.

The deal apparently won't challenge the record for the largest contract by total value, which was broken multiple times this offseason. Chicago Red Stars forward Mallory Swanson, Bay FC forward Racheal Kundananji and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda all reportedly signed deals between $2 million and $2.5 million.

From the Thorns' statement:

“We are over the moon to have Soph commit again to the Thorns. She is a proven, world-class talent and one that we are excited to have contribute to the team’s continued success,” said head coach Mike Norris. “We look forward to working with her in a Thorns jersey as she continues to shine as one of the top strikers in the world.”

In only four professional seasons, Smith has become not just the face of the Thorns, but a foundational star for the NWSL. She has led the Thorns to five trophies since joining the team — the 2022 NWSL Championship, the 2021 NWSL Shield, the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, the 2022 Community Shield and the 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup — while winning league MVP and championship game MVP in 2022.

She opened this season with a brace against the Kansas City Current on March 16, but the Thorns ultimately lost 5-4.

Smith is also already one of the top players on the USWNT, with 16 goals in 44 appearances. She is one of the stars in the national team's next generation, though questions will dog the group until it manages to move past last year's World Cup disappointment.