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Sydney Leroux, Merritt Paulson Squabble on Social Media

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The Pride forward and Thorns owner aren’t exactly BFFs.

Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

It’s probably safe to say that Portland Timbers/Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux aren’t the best of friends.

The two got into it a smidge after Orlando City’s 3-2 comeback win over the Timbers — during which Leroux’s husband Dom Dwyer scored the winning goal and also drew a key foul on Alvas Powell in the penalty area that allowed Sacha Kljestan to pull the Lions level.

Paulson tweeted his displeasure with the officiating (for which he’s since been fined by Major League Soccer) and accused Dwyer of diving. Leroux responded to Paulson’s now-deleted salt-fueled missive on Twitter.

As fate would have it, Leroux and her Orlando Pride teammates traveled to Portland to take on the Thorns in the defending champions’ home opener just days later — an anticipated rematch of last season’s NWSL semifinals. Although the Pride scored first and should have gone up 2-0 at one point, the Thorns eventually came back and won the match, 2-1. Afterward, Leroux apparently was not happy with being unable to bring her son Cassius onto the field, as she typically does after the match.

Paulson replied publicly “Believe it or not I don’t spend my time making decisions how we handle credentials for any opponent/or team member. Your son/mother were given locker room passes and excellent set up in game. We only allow Thorns or Timbers family on the pitch after games. I hope they enjoyed it.”

As salty as Paulson comes off, he doubled down with the most unfortunate follow-up tweet (now deleted, which is pretty standard for him at this stage of his social media adolescence).

“(Also apparently our staff were told that you weren’t happy with the decision about the field for your son and would likely vent on social media. Instead of inventing conspiracy theories and drama maybe you would be better off focusing on playing? Just a thought…)”

Deleted or not, nothing is ever truly erased from the world once you put it out on the internet and this is a bad look for not only Paulson, but also the league and one of the NWSL’s most successful and visible teams.

The Thorns social media staff backed up their owner publicly — whether under instruction to do so or not. Either way, it was an odd sidebar.

For her part, Leroux didn’t appear satisfied with the response and essentially asked for change prior to the Pride’s return trip to Portland on May 12.

Basically this situation wasn’t handled in the best possible manner by anyone involved, but to me, the seriously troubling volley was Paulson essentially telling Leroux to shut up and play. Deleting it after the fact doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and for an owner to show such poor judgment has to be a concern for the league. Maybe in the future Paulson should follow his own advice — at least the first six words.