Tag Archives: National Women’s Soccer League

Meet Thorns FC’s Emilee O’Neil

At times it may be an overused cliche, but in the case of Portland Thorns FC thirty-year-old defender Emilee O’Neil, timing really is everything.

When O’Neil signed as a discover player with Thorns FC on April 5, it was the culmination of a lifelong dream of being a professional soccer player.

Not many thirty-year-olds can say that and when I talked with O’Neil on Friday, you could tell she was still just soaking up the entire experience.

“The organization here has made this experience so professional. Players who have played in the previous leagues have said Portland has been the most professional by far. It’s been awesome,” said O’Neil.

O’Neil missed out on the first top-tier women’s professional league, WUSA, as she was still playing for Stanford University where she was a four-year player from 2001-2004. By the time she graduated in 2005, WUSA had folded.

When the second professional league, WPS, kicked off in 2009, O’Neil had gone over 4 years without playing in a competitive environment. She had played pick up and was active in coaching youth soccer, but she still shied away from taking a chance at playing in WPS. For O’Neil, It just seemed like she had been away from the game too long.

Yet again though, timing played a key role in O’Neil rediscovering her love for the competitive nature of the game.

When she became a full-time graduate student, O’Neill decided to try out for the Bay Area Breeze in the W-League. She made the team and after a seven year absence from competitive soccer, she completed her first professional season last year with the Bay Area Breeze.

After getting reintroduced to the competitive atmosphere of a professional team, O’Neil was hooked.

“It was more fun than I expected and because it was such a good experience, I was reminded of my passion for playing at that level,” said O’Neil.

Timing was again in her favor in November when the announcement for the new women’s professional league was released. At the time, O’Neil was preparing to finish up her graduate degree in graphic design in December.

“My dad and my husband, Michael, both really gave me the confidence to give it a shot. So I decided I’m not going to regret not trying so I just went for it,” said O’Neil.

After making the commitment to give NWSL a shot, O’Neil decided that Portland was an obvious choice for where she wanted to play. Her husband is from southern Oregon and he has a brother in Bend. O’Neil’s brother lives in Portland.

But it wasn’t just because of family that O’Neil had her eyes set on Portland.

“I knew from the beginning that Portland would be a great city for a team because of the atmosphere and the Timbers in MLS so it was really the only team I pursued playing for,” said O’Neil.

I couldn’t help laughing when O’Neil told me what she did next.

“I went to the website and called the office and asked if I could speak with Cindy Parlow-Cone. She hadn’t even moved to Portland yet but I was able to eventually get a hold of her and tell her my story,” said O’Neil.

O’Neil played centerback and outside back for Stanford University and featured mainly at centerback last season for the Bay Area Breeze. O’Neil says she’s comfortable playing anywhere on the backline. With the small rosters in NWSL, O’Neil’s versatility will definitely be in her favor. O’Neil’s speed, technical ability and composure on the ball also make her a good fit within what coach Cindy Parlow-Cone wants to do on the pitch.

Against FC Kansas City, O’Neil saw her first action as a Portland Thorns FC player coming off the bench in the 61st minute and playing left back.

When asked about her time so far with Portland, O’Neil broke into a huge smile when talking.

“This whole process has been so surreal…so amazing. I’m so thankful for this opportunity. The coaches, my teammates, everything has been so great since I’ve been here,” said O’Neil.

You can reach out and follow Emilee O’Neil’s season on Twitter at: @EmileeONeil

emileeoniel

Thorns FC draws FC Kansas City 1-1 in their inaugural NWSL match

Christine Sinclair converted a second-half penalty kick to help Thorns FC to a come-from-behind 1-1 draw in front of sold-out crowd of 6,784 fans at Shawnee Mission District Stadium in Overland Park, Kansas.

The Thorns FC season got off to a rocky start when FC Kansas City’s Renae Cuellar took a long pass from Kristin Mewis and scored the first goal in NWSL history in only the match’s 3rd minute.

The Thorns FC defense settled down after that but FC Kansas City, with especially strong play from their midfield, looked to be the better team in the first half.

The second half featured a much better showing from the Thorns FC defense as Becky Edwards and the rest of the backline did a much better job containing FC Kansas City’s midfield and denying their forwards opportunities.

Thorns FC got a big break in the 66th minute when second-half substitute Danielle Foxhoven was fouled by Lauren Sesselmann in the penalty area. Sinclair, the captain for Thorns FC, converted the penalty kick with a hard shot to the low right side, recording the first goal in Portland’s NWSL history in the 67th minute.

Next weekend, Thorns FC has their  inaugural home match on Sunday, April 21, against Seattle Reign FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PST) and the game will be broadcast on Freedom 970 AM as well as via web stream at www.portlandthornsfc.com.

Game Stats:

Portland Thorns FC (0-0-1, 1pts) at FC Kansas City (0-0-1, 1pts)
April 13, 2013 – Shawnee Mission District Stadium (Overland Park, Kan.)

Goals by Half              1          2          F
KC                               1          0          1
POR                            0          1          1

Scoring Summary
KC – Cuellar (Mewis)                            3rd minute
POR – Sinclair (penalty kick)             67

Misconduct Summary
KC – Mewis (caution)                            43
POR – Washington (caution)              70
POR – Williamson (caution)               82

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc; D Marian Dougherty, D Rachel Buehler, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall (Emilee O’Neil, 61); M Becky Edwards, M Allie Long, M Angie Kerr (Danielle Foxhoven, 63); F Nikki Washington (Courtney Wetzel, 90), F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, M Meleana Shim

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Morgan, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Sinclair, 2); FOULS: 13 (Long, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2

KC: GK Nicole Barnhart; D Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), D Leigh Ann Robinson, D Lauren Sesselmann, D, Jen Buczkowski; M Casey Loyd (Courtney Jones, 72), M Merritt Mathias (Katie Kelly, 77), M Desiree Scott, M Kristie Mewis (Erika Tymrak, 81), M Lauren Cheney (capt.); F Renae Cuellar

Substitutes Not Used: GK Bianca Henninger, D Nia Williams, F Melissa Henderson

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Two players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three tied with 1); FOULS: 11 (Two players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3

Referee: Kari Seitz
Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Kyle Atkins
Fourth Official: Jon Freemon
Attendance: 6,784

NWSL Announces List of 55 Allocated Players

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has announced the list of 55 U.S., Canadian and Mexican National Team players that will be allocated to the eight clubs.

Once the allocation process is completed, the club location for all 55 players will be announced on Friday, Jan. 11.

The breakdown of players by country:

United States (23)

Goalkeepers (4): Nicole Barnhart, Ashlyn Harris, Jill Loyden, Hope Solo

Defenders (7): Rachel Buehler, Ali Krieger, Amy LePeilbet, Heather Mitts, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn

Midfielders (8): Shannon Boxx, Lauren Cheney, Tobin Heath, Lori Lindsey, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, Keelin Winters

Forwards (4): Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach

Canada (16)

Goalkeepers (2): Karina LeBlanc, Erin McLeod

Defenders (6): Melanie Booth, Robyn Gayle, Carmelina Moscato, Lauren Sesselmann, Rhian Wilkinson, Emily Zurrer

Defender/Midfielder (1): Bryana McCarthy

Midfielders (4): Kaylyn Kyle, Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott

Midfielders/Forwards (2): Adriana Leon, Jodi-Ann Robinson

Forward (1): Christine Sinclair

Mexico (16)

Goalkeepers (2): Aurora Cecilia Santiago Cisneros, Pamela Tajonar Alonso

Defenders (5): Alini Lisi Garciamendez Rowold, Jennifer Marie Ruiz Brown, Luz del Rosario Saucedo Soto, Rubi Marlene Sandoval Nungaray, Marylin Viridiana Diaz Ramirez

Midfielders (5): Veronica Raquel Perez Murillo, Teresa Noyola Bayardo, Lydia Nayeli Rangel Hernandez, Teresa Guadalupe Worbis Aguilar, Dinora Lizeth Garza Rodriguez

Forwards (4): Maribel Dominguez Castelan, Monica Ocampo Medina, Renae Nicole Cuellar Cuellar, Anisa Raquel Guajardo Braff

Some thoughts on the list of players:

* Originally, the number of allocated players was set at 52 (24 U.S, 16 Canada, 12 Mexico). Mexico was asked to add four players to the list so the distribution could be even (56 players total, 7 to each of the 8 clubs).

*  As you notice above, the U.S. only listed 23 players. Who’s missing? Olympic alternates Meghan Klingenberg and Christen Press are both committed to playing for Tyresö FF in Sweden.

* With the U.S. listing 23 players, that obviously means one team will have one less U.S. national team player. It will be interested to see how that plays out and whether that team will be awarded

* Players with Portland ties:

– Abby Wambach (recently purchased a home in Portland)

– Megan Rapinoe (former University of Portland player now playing in France with Olympique Lyonnais – she’ll return to NWSL about a month into the season)

– Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt (also former University of Portland players)

– If those four somehow get allocated to Portland, that will be quite a coup for Thorns FC.

With the club location for all 55 players coming up on Friday, who do you think goes where? 

 

NWSL College Draft to Take Place on Friday, Jan. 18

The National Women’s Soccer League announced a college draft will take place on Friday, January 18th at the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis.

A total of 32 players will be selected in the four round draft. Only players who completed their college eligibility in 2012 will be available for selection in the draft. Players who have been out of college for more than a year, or former players in previous leagues, will be considered free agents. Signing of free agents will take place during a specific window of time, yet to be determined.

The announcement didn’t include any news on the allocation of U.S, Canadian and Mexican National Team players.

Full press release:

CHICAGO (Dec, 21, 2012) – The first National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft will take place on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, at the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis.

The draft will consist of four rounds and the order will be determined by a blind draw. Once the order is set, the draft will be conducted in a “snake” format (i.e. the teams will select 1-8 in the first round, 8-1 in the second round, 1-8 in the third round and 8-1 in the fourth round). Teams will have a specific amount of time to make their picks in each round. A total of 32 players will be selected.

Players who completed their collegiate eligibility in 2012 can be selected in the 2013 NWSL College Draft. Those players who have been out of college for a year or more, are former professional players, or are currently playing overseas and are out of contract, are considered free agents. Teams will be allowed to sign free agents during a specific window of time, which will be determined soon. The U.S., Canadian and Mexican National Team players will be allocated to clubs at a date to be determined.

The start time of the draft will be announced in the near future, but fans will be able to follow the draft on Twitter @NWSL, through the league’s Facebook page and on the league’s yet-to-be launched website.

The draft is not open to the public or media, but following the draft, representatives from all eight clubs will be made available. The time and location for that event will also be announced in the near future.

“The forming of rosters is always an exciting part for teams and fans and an important step for our new league,” said NWSL Executive Director Cheryl Bailey. “There are some extremely talented young players coming out of college this year and we are thrilled that there will be an environment for them to continue to grow as players and showcase themselves for international call-ups in the future.”

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is an eight-team league organized and administered by the U.S. Soccer Federation that will begin play in the spring of 2013. U.S. Soccer will subsidize the salaries of up to 24 U.S. Women’s National Team players while the Canadian Soccer Association will do the same for up to 16 Canadian players and the Federation of Mexican Football will do the same for up to 16 Mexican players. The eight founding clubs are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Sky Blue FC (New York/New Jersey), Seattle Reign FC, the Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash.

 

Thorns FC name Cindy Parlow Cone as head coach

Photo: Jeffrey A. Camarati, UNC Athletic Comm.
Photo: Jeffrey A. Camarati, UNC Athletic Comm.

Portland Thorns FC today named Cindy Parlow Cone, 34, one of the all-time leading scorers from the U.S. Women’s National Team, their first head coach for the inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

While this is Parlow Cone’s first professional head coaching job, she definitely brings an impressive pedigree and potential to Thorns FC.

Playing Career
– Parlow Cone recorded 68 goals and 53 assists during her collegiate career at the University of North Carolina (1995-98), and is one of 10 players in the program’s history to record 40 or more goals and assists in a career.
– 158 matches as a forward (75 goals and 35 assists) with the U.S. Women’s National Team (1996-2004) which included a 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship and gold medals at the 1996 and 2004 Olympic games.
– Parlow Cone played in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) for three seasons with the Atlanta Beat from 2001-03, leading the team to the postseason each season.

Awards/Honors
– Parlow Cone earned All-American honors all four years at UNC, won the Hermann Trophy in 1997 and 1998 as the nation’s top player and led the Tar Heels to back-to-back national titles in 1996 and 1997.
– Named the U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year in 1998.
– Member of the 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team which was named Sports Illustrated’s 1999 Athlete of the Year.
– Inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.

Coaching
– Parlow Cone holds a USSF “A” License and has participated in a FIFA Futuro III course.
– For the past six years, she has served as an assistant coach for the women’s soccer program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, helping guide the team to national championships in 2009 and 2012.
– Also over the same time, Parlow Cone was the Director of Coaching for Senior Girls Programs (U-15 to U-18) at Triangle United Soccer Association in Chapel Hill, N.C.
– Served as a member of the U.S. U-14 and U-15 Girls National Team coaching staffs since 2010.

“It is very exciting to be part of a new women’s league and to be a part of launching a new professional team in Portland. I’ve seen first-hand the great enthusiasm Portland has for soccer; it’s a soccer-smart fan base that generates an incredible atmosphere. I am very much looking forward to the first season of Thorns FC.” – Cindy Parlow Cone

Now that a head coach has been named, next up for Thorns FC and the rest of the clubs in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) will be the announcement of the league schedule as well as the allocation of national team players.

We’ll have more news as it’s announced. What do you think of today’s Thorns FC news? Do you see Parlow Cone’s connections with the University of North Carolina as another positive for the club?