Tag Archives: Portland Thorns

Thorns FC: Level One Complete

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The regular season is over and Thorns FC will play in Kansas City next weekend.

This is because the Thorns ran their season record over the Seattle Reign to 4-0 on Saturday, and because FCKC couldn’t hold off Chicago ninety minutes on Sunday, long enough to win the league and go top into the playoffs.  Instead Western New York took the top spot with their win over Boston the day before.

Can we agree that this has been a turbulent and rather intriguing August for the NWSL?

As for Thorns FC…

Well, the match in Tukwila wasn’t exactly the dominating performance I’d hoped to see out of PTFC going in to the postseason.  The defense was caught asleep in the third minute and Megan Rapinoe began what turned out to be a 90-minute schooling of the right flank of Portland’s backline by skinning Kat Williamson  – with Marian Dougherty pulled out of position – and slotting the ball past Karina’s outstretched leg and inside the far post for the 1-0 lead.

Let me say for the record; Rapinoe is a hell of a great player and I wish we had her.  She’s one of those players who look liable to score nearly any time that they have the ball at their feet, and she did that all night on Saturday.

But Saturday the Defensive Derps TM had a conscience and five minutes later the Reign were caught on a similar long ball, this one a perfectly weighted lob from Allie Long onto the feet of a running Sinclair.

Sing, oh Muse, of the wrath of Sinclair.

Christine’s fierce desire to score, and to win, were huge elements of the Thorns’ win Saturday.

Collecting the ball, Christine had a defender closing down on her and the USWNT keeper in front of her.  But…Hope Solo then made the inexplicable decision to come all the way out of her 18 and missed the tackle.  She was left chasing Christine like a Brittany spaniel pursuing a street dragster.  Sinclair went to her right, cleared the Reign players, and deposited the ball neatly into Solo’s abandoned goal.

In many ways Christine has had a frustrating and disappointing season, but every match – one way or another – she does something that reminds me what a hell of a great player she still is, and of how badly she hates to lose.

If Alex Morgan cannot return next weekend I hope Sinclair can somehow infuse that hatred into the rest of the Thorns.

Meanwhile, back in Tukwila Chris’ strike was the end of the scoring for the next seventy-odd minutes; the two teams spent the remainder of the first half and most of the second trying to create another goal and failing.

If you forced me to be honest I’d admit that Seattle had by far the better and the more numerous opportunities.  Fishlock and Rapinoe were constant menaces to Portland’s goal, and both Nairn and van Egmond had good opportunities that they either whiffed or couldn’t finish.

Seattle largely won the fight for control of the midfield, while Portland’s attack dried up; Weimer and Foxhoven were not effective most of the match and Shim was energetic but unable to create a really decent chance.

Portland’s backline was…well, Portland’s backline; controlling their penalty area and Seattle’s attack for much of the first half.  Until someone missed a mark, was caught ballwatching, or stabbed and missed.  At that point a free-for-all would break out, with panicked Thorns racing about trying to recover their marks and clear their lines.

Fortunately for Portland when Portland was panicked and out of position – Seattle was unlucky.

The Thorns defense looked more composed in the second half, and Coach Parlow Cone’s defensive substitutions – Ramirez for Dougherty at 51′, Ellertson for Williamson at 73′ – were, if not inspired, at least effective.  I had my particular doubts about pulling Williamson, who had largely done good work throttling down Fishlock, but Ellertson continued to contain the Welsh Rarebit.

No, the substitution that puzzled and frustrated me was Wetzel for Foxhoven at 82′.

For all that she hadn’t been spectacular Foxhoven had rattled the crossbar at 56′, had been doing at least no worse than the other Portland forwards, and didn’t look gassed or out of ideas.  Wetzel has not been a particularly effective attacker this season, and to me, at least, the move suggested that Parlow Cone was content to see the draw out and take the away point, a choice – if that was her reasoning – I didn’t and still don’t understand.

Yes, Western New York had already clinched the second home semifinal, so the win wouldn’t have secured a home game.  I get that.

But still…here was the final regular match, against the rival Reign, for the chance to go into the away semifinal with a victory if you can score a late goal…and you pull one of your forwards for a defensive midfielder?

I don’t get that, Coach.

Whatever CPC’s plans were, fortunately for Thorns FC she didn’t bother to brief Christine Sinclair who latched onto a long lob from Weimer – less than a minute after the Wetzel sub – and flat outran the entire Reign defense to slap the ball past Solo for the 2-1 lead.

Have I mentioned lately what a terrific player Sinclair can be?  How badly she hates losing?

Sing, oh muse, of the wrath of Sinclair..!

After that Seattle kept pressing but the defense held on, and Thorns FC ended their season with a win.

To my mind Saturday’s result in Tukwila vindicated the notion of refusing to settle for a draw whenever possible, and especially when a match is critical, whether its for league standing or team morale.

For example:

Sky Blue’s draw to Washington dropped them emphatically into fourth, while FCKC’s loss to Chicago handed Western New York the “Sahlen Meat Products Supporter’s Shield” or whatever the heck the NWSL calls the regular-season championship.

To make things worse for FCKC, Chicago’s unheralded striker Jennifer Hoy scored two of the three goals that she would score in the 2013 season in the match, including the winner deep in second half injury time.  That has to be gutting for Kansas City who enters next week’s semifinal on a tw0-game losing streak.

But…Portland’s form hasn’t been outstanding this month either.

The semifinal could be anyone’s match, and we’ll talk about what we might expect in Kansas City in the coming week.

Thorns FC: Flash Burns

This coming Sunday is Bastille Day, and, appropriately, Thorns FC as the preseason consensus-royalty of the NWSL will be faced with a swarm of canaille from Western New York at the gates of Jeld-Wen Field; the Flash, a.k.a. Wambach & Co.

For me this is not good news.

That’s because our Thorns have just put on a fairly unimpressive display of ragged defense and disorganized attack in their nil-2 loss to the fifth-place Boston Breakers just a week after going scoreless and gifting two goals at FC Kansas City and being held to a messy nil-nil draw away to Sky Blue before that.  In fact, you have to go back almost a month to recall at Thorns FC win, and that was home against a then-sorry Seattle Reign.

At this point there’s really no reason to rehash the observations I’ve already made about the Thorns.  We’ve all seen what’s happening on the pitch, and we all know – at least, I hope that Coach Parlow Cone and her team know – what needs to happen to stop the bleeding.  My intention here is, specifically, to break down the Flash and see if there’s anything special that needs to happen before this coming Sunday.

From the distance of Cascadia the Western New York Flash are a real mystery to me.

On paper this team is loaded, packed with national team players; forward Adriana Martin from Spain, midfielders Samantha Kerr from Australia and Veronica Perez of Las Tri, and USWNT players U-23 goalkeeper Adrianna Franch and senior national team midfielder Carli Lloyd.

Oh, yes, and a certain Mary Abigail Wambach who might just be the greatest women’s player in the world at the moment.

So you’d think that we’d be looking up at this lot on the top of the league, rather than seeing them clinging to the last playoff spot.  But the Flash have had a problem all season getting results.

Sometimes their attack just doesn’t work; the woeful Red Stars shut them out in Chicago last week as did Kansas City this past Sunday.

Other times they break down in the back; back on June 23rd Seattle was a goal up within half an hour and WNY needed a Wambach PK to save the point.  The same month they shipped two goals against both Chicago and Boston to barely manage the away points, and even the dire Washington Spirit managed to hold them to a 1-1 draw back in April.

They seem to play down to the quality of their opponents; Chicago is 1-1-1 against them, and Boston is 1-0-1.  Washington is the only no-hoper at 0-2-1 including a 4-nil thrashing in Rochester back at the end of June.  At the other end they’re 3-0 against Sky Blue and 1-0-1 against FCKC; they seem to like a challenge.

So it’s going to be difficult to suss out which WNY will show up next week; will it be the one that walloped Washington or the one that lost to Chicago?

We do know some things, however, and here’s my thoughts on what they are and what will need to happen for Thorns FC to get a good result against WNY.

Wambach is a menace in the air and WNY will be extremely dangerous from lofted crosses and corners.

Thorns FC scores very few goals from headers; 6% (only 1 of 18 goals scored).  Given our lack of effective width and few players who cross well that’s no surprise.  But we also don’t see many headers against us; Bywater’s goal for Chicago (on the June weekend when the USWNT and CWNT call-ups left both sides without their stars) was the only one I can recall.  I certainly hope that the team is practicing their team defense against lofted crosses and set pieces this week.

But WNY thrives in the air.  22% of their goals – 6 of 22 – have come from someone’s head.  Of the teams in the NWSL that can score only Boston (22%, 5 of 23) comes close.  Those of us who have watched Wambach will find this no surprise.  But it’s worth noting that WNY defender Brittany Taylor has two goals, and that usually means off a set-piece of some kind, and another defender (Robinson) has a goal off a corner kick.  I cannot help but suspect that Aaran Lines will want to test the PTFC defense with some aerial attack, and we should expect to see that.

The Thorns backline will have to mark tightly – especially Wambach and especially on set-pieces.  Beyond general improvement in team defense the play of the central defenders must also improve; Williamson cannot afford to be torched as she was repeatedly against Boston, and Wambach – who knows Beuhler’s penchant for rough play – cannot be allowed to use that to draw a penalty.

The Flash tend to score goals from the run of play and appear to have a solid midfield providing service.

Over the past nine games ten players have scored 20 goals for WNY; Wambach, of course, with 6 goals but also Lloyd (4 goals), Martin (2), and Kerr, Winters, Perez, and DiMartino with one each.  Almost all of these goals have come in open play, other than the three noted above and a McCall Zerboni strike from a goalkeeper error.  To assume that the Flash will come in looking like St. Mirren circa 1962 would be a mistake; these people will look to play balls through midfield and both out to the wings as well as into the 18.

The Thorns will have to control midfield play.  Sure, that’s Soccer 101, but until now we’ve consistently bypassed the midfield in hopes of an Alex Morgan long-distance lightning strike.  If we are going to stop the WNY attack that defense must begin in midfield, and the midfielders will have to be capable of turning on the ball and then providing accurate passes to our strikers, something we have not done consistently to date.

The Flash tends to ship goals at random moments and while they have a good defense it’s not statistically better than ours…and we’ve seen what that means.

I see this – and marking Wambach out of the match – as the key to victory.

When the Flash get beaten it’s been on the counter, with goals from distance, and early goals forcing them to struggle for late equalizers.  Chicago’s Mautz scored on them in the first minute and forced them to nearly into 90+ for the draw.   Leroux nailed a 20-some yard strike and forced the Flash, again, to go almost to full time to pull off the draw.  Backfooting them will be critical, and that means pressure, and that means both opportunism and possession.

Our frontline has to score, score early, and then keep possession and pressure on through the match. 

Let’s face it; the best way to keep Abby Wambach from scoring is to ensure that Abby Wambach’s opponents don’t let her have the ball.  Better yet; they keep the ball down around her goal, and force her to play central defender.

But we haven’t been doing that of late and, honestly, I don’t know how to solve that problem.

If I did I’d be on the phone to Jeld-Wen right now.  We have two of the best strikers in women’s soccer – possibly in ALL of soccer – in Sinclair and Morgan.  But we have been terrible as providing them with good opportunities and as a strike partnership they have looked out of sorts and poorly connected.

I know part of the trouble is in midfield, and we have a potential missing piece – Tobin Heath – arriving this week.  But, frankly, we haven’t seen our forwards playing well off each other even when they do work the ball down into the attacking third.  I think a large part of that is our width; we don’t have any, and it allows opposing defenses to collapse around Morgan, Sinclair, and Weimer (and Foxhoven, Shim, or any other Thorns involved in the attack).  But another part of it is on the players themselves, and their working out techniques that allow them to make space around the goal.

This is what I see as Coach Parlow Cone’s hardest task for the upcoming week.

Can you believe that we’d be saying that?  Hey, this was Thorns FC!  We have the two of the deadliest gunners in North America, amiright?  Just roll that ol’ ball out and watch ’em knock it in, amiright?

Well, no.

Turns out that even great strikers need support from the back, and a tactical plan, and movement off the ball, and wing play, and good coomunication and coordination.

And y’know what?  I have to think we can do that.  I want to think we can take the attack to the Flash and make them worry more about what Morgan and Shim and Sinclair will do with the ball and less what Abby Wambach could be doing with it.

And I want to think that Coach Parlow Cone thinks that, too.

Thorns FC: Broken by the Breakers

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John Lawes has the lowdown on Thorns FC 0-2 Boston Breakers.

Does crisis fuel soccer in the Rose City? It’s now two defeats in a row for the Thorns and all-too familiar problems on the field for Portland fans.


Damn but these are getting depressing to write.

Thorns FC lost it’s second match in a row and the third without a win Saturday night at Jeld-Wen Field.  The fifth-place Boston Breakers looked comprehensively the better team; effective in front of goal, dominant in midfield, and solid in the back.  Naeher, the Boston keeper, played a blinder that included an 86th minute stoning of Alex Morgan that kept the sheet clean.

On the other side of the pitch Thorns FC showcased the problems I’ve been carping about for the recent weeks, both individual and collective.  Nikki Washington had one of the worst outings I’ve seen from a winger whose usual form has been subpar since early in the season.  Kat Williamson and Nikki Marshall got torched, Rachel Beuhler and Williamson seemed to be playing for different teams and with a Sydney Leroux in front of them that has been a pantsload over the last couple of matches the backline gave her acres of space and aeons of time and were rewarded with a pair of nifty – for Boston fans – goals.

The less said about Courtney Wetzel’s night as a defender the better, but if Parlow Cone tries THAT little experiment again she’d better have a good explanation for why.  Wetzel looked so bad matched up against Leroux that Parlow Cone kept shifting her around the field like she was playing human three-card monte and Wetzel was the Red Queen.  Cone’d better hope that she never has to take to hustling rubes for a living, because she sure wasn’t fooling Boston.

Thorns midfield?

What midfield?

Boston dominated midfield play, pressing high and attacking the ball aggressively, just like every successful Portland opponent has done.  And the Thorns responded with errant passes and lost tackles as has been their wont when confronted with this tactic.

Up front the attacking woes continued.  The attackers took 20 shots but of that only seven were anywhere near the goal and those seven were either softballs or right at Naeher.  Boston was rarely troubled all night by the supposedly deadly Portland forwards due to a combination of poor Portland coordination and tough Boston defense.

It’s getting harder and harder to see a good ending to this mess unless we see some real improvement in both team and individual play, and soon.  Parlow Cone has got to figure out what to do about the problems we’re seeing and implement it.  The team needs to find an on-field leader who is capable of marshaling the troops to make the coach’s plan happen.

And I think this needs to happen before the end of the regular season.  One of the comments on my last post read in part:

“…as long as Portland keeps drawing 3X the crowds of the next closest drawing club in this league nobody at the FO gives a F***. And I mean that. This is a cash cow for them. SPC can coast on talent. With the talent the Thorns were gifted (and don’t think they weren’t) they will make the playoffs and win a lot of games. Her 1965 tactics won’t matter to anyone at the FO as long as they make the playoffs and they will.”

I think the commenter misunderstands the position this club is in.  Merely getting to the playoffs this season will not be enough.  A finals berth; in fact, a championship is the minimum the fan base expects.  Portland soccer fans are far more forgiving than most – too forgiving, in my biased opinion.  But given the expectations I firmly believe that merely making the playoffs and going out in the first round won’t cut it.

So I think this next match will be crucial.

If we can see some real changes, some real improvement across the entire team (except you, Karina – you are still The Wall!) against a tough opponent – even if we lose a hard-fought match – I think we can see the Thorns we expected to see and challenge for the league title.

If not?  Well, if not I think we may be in for a damn ugly off-season.

Dammit, I refuse to think we can’t do that.

Onward, Rose City!

 

The Empire Strikes Back

Let me say this first; what a wild, wonderful, frightening, crazy, frustrating, exhilarating match!

Thorns FC celebrated the return of their national team players Thursday night by hanging a frantic 4-3 defeat on the visiting Kansas City FC.  Although far from being a “perfect” soccer match the encounter was loads of fun to watch and possibly the most entertaining game I’ve seen from the Thorns and the NWSL to date.

I’m sure my colleagues here will do what the gang over at Stumptown Footy has already done and give you a thorough rundown of the match.  I just wanted to comment on what happened relative to the carping I did after the loss to Chicago the previous weekend.  Specifically;

Having whined about the lack of wing play, Thursday night the Thorns played MUCH wider and used the width of the pitch to spread a scrambling KCFC defense and pour on the attack.  What didn’t hurt Thorns FC was that the KCFC defense lacked their organizer Sesselmann; I’d say that had she been there I doubt if Morgan would have had the time to bury her second.  Both Dougherty on the Thorns right and Marshall on the left had clearly been given orders to push up the touchlines when they could, and did.  The results rewarded the efforts and I hope we’ll continue to see this from Thorns FC going forward.

Although the play proved that the Morgan-Sinclair Axis is still the heart of the Thorns’ attack Thursday night the midfield looked an order of magnitude better than they have all season, stringing together crisp passes, moving well to space and looking to keep possession.  Allie Long had perhaps the best game she’s had to date, the Shim-Foxhoven combination (Shim in the first half, Foxhoven in the second) worked well, and Becky Edwards was her usual beast of a DCM, Chara-izing everything in a white jersey all night.  I won’t way that the midfield is “solved” but the Thorns midfield play was much improved and the team was the beneficiary of that.

As always, Alex Morgan was herself, using her amazing pace to trouble KCFC even without the ball at her feet.  I thought the defining moment for her Thursday night was early in the first half with Thorns FC up 2-nil and a lazy backpass forced KCFC keeper Barnhart to dribble the ball out of the back.  Most forwards might have loafed over to remind the keeper they were there.  Instead Morgan rushed onto her at full tilt, forced her to boot away a hurried clearance to avoid getting caught in a ter-Stegen.  Morgan clearly had no interest in letting her national teammate play her game; this game was Morgan’s, by Pele, and Morgan was letting her know it.

Even more entertaining were her struggles with KCFC’s Becky Sauerbrunn (whose awful slip had gifted PTFC Morgan’s first goal early on and was clearly angry about that).  They tussled and shoved and battled all evening and finally late in the second half the two raced down into the west corner at the North End.  Both were shoving shoulder-to-shoulder when Morgan reached under and ju-jitsu-flipped Sauerbrunn to the ground, rolled over…and sat up and appealed for the card against her victim.

Her own yellow for this was well deserved; nice piece of trickery only if you get away with it, you cunning thing, you.  But it revealed what a fierce competitor this woman is, and how lucky we are to have her.

Of course when you’re rebuilding a Death Star you’re still likely to end up with a defense that has an vulnerable exhaust port or two.  With the attack battering furiously away the Thorns’ defense didn’t have much to do…until the second half when, up 3-1, Parlow Cone pulled the team back into a 4-5-1, left Morgan running about up top, and seemed to want to park the bus.

As we’ve seen; when teams named “PTFC” try that it doesn’t usually end well.  In this case it allowed KCFC to work its way back into the match.

Much as I like what Marshall and Dougherty did going forward, I was hating what was happening in the back.  Marshall was repeatedly skinned to the outside; she spend so much time chasing down wingers who had burned her that I started looking to see if the back of her shirt didn’t read “Kimura”.  Over on the right Dougherty was caught upfield several times as well.  If CPC is going to push her fullbacks upfield to get width – which I like! – the midfield and backline will need to work on shifting to cover the space opened by the fullbacks.

And to add to that the defense continued its curious ways of going into sudden brainlock at random moments.

KCFC pulled back a third goal on what might have been the oddest looping curl of a shot by Erika Tymrak in the 81st minute.  She hit a medium-pace shot from near the right top corner of the 18 at what seemed like a half-dozen Thorns strung across the penalty area like a Washington County road crew and they, like the shovel-proppers, did absolutely nothing useful to the ball.  It whiffed past LeBlanc who looked to be screened by her ostensible defenders.  Ouch.

And speaking of “ouch” and speaking of defenders I have to add this; Thorns FC was very, very lucky not to be a player down after 33 minutes.

Rachel Beuhler did a lot of good work Thursday night.  But that didn’t include a very bad challenge from behind that took down (and injured) Renae Cuellar.  It had all the elements of a sending-off; clumsy tackle, from behind, by the last defender on an attacker that was otherwise in alone on the keeper.

Luckily for Thorns FC while it drew the PK that Cheney buried it didn’t draw the card.  Not that I think for a moment that there was intent on Beuhler’s part; just that on a night that Thorns FC was seemingly inspired by the great Brazilian teams of the Garrincha years – (“Score seven on us? Defending? Não faz mal! We’ll just forget that “defending” stuff and score eight on you..!) the last thing you need is to go down a player AND lose your most crucial defender.

Just sayin’.

After all the hurley was done, after the battle was won the Death Star has downed another plucky band of rebels.

Thursday night was a wild rumpus of an evening, a cascade, a starry night full of goals, and a lovely evening of soccer brought to us by the Ladies in Red; luminous beings were they, not this crude matter.  A delightful evening after the sour mumpish day we shared last Saturday.  Now.

Onward, Rose City!

Budding Thorns

The reserve squad for the Portland Thorns FC played a preseason friendly last night at Merlo Field, the home pitch for the Portland Pilots.  The result – a 2-1 win for the visitors – was almost immaterial.  The internationals never even dressed out; there was obviously no intention to field the side we’re going to see in about three weeks.  The plan (and the successful result) was to provide a test for the college-product Thorns.

My bride and I took a pleasant walk through our North Portland neighborhood to join the crowd – and the match drew almost 5,000 people to the pretty green-and-purple stadium just west of Willamette Boulevard – that watched the teams test each other.  While the following are just snapshots of the state of the Thorns, I did get a sense of how the junior members of the team are shaping;

Downing UPO 3-29-131.  The overall level of play was not too disparate.  This wasn’t a college squad overmatched by a team of pros; it was a good college team against a team of college all stars.  While nobody in purple was of the quality of, say, Allie Long or Nikki Washington, nobody in the gray-and-red Thorns practice strip was that much better than Kaila Cameli or Nichole Downing.

2.  The Thorns reserves either had some early pre-season rust to buff off or weren’t used to playing without the internationals (and given that the latter had only reported several weeks ago it was probably the former).  The team came out looking pawky and out of synch, especially in back.  The Pilots had several good counters early that resulted in the early goal.  This was, in part, because the Thorns played an exceptionally high backline and were caught ballwatching several times.

3.  The Thorns still need to work on their defensive nous and communication among their defenders and between their midfield, defenders, and goalkeeper.  Even in the 88th minute giveaways in midfield and poor marking allowed a Pilot counter that had goalkeeper Roxanne Barker isolated on an charging Pilot forward who just couldn’t gain control in time to shoot on frame.  I’m sure Parlow-Cone will have some words with the defenders on Monday.

4.  Speaking of goalkeepers, the Thorns might want to keep an eye on Nichole Downing.  The Pilots keeper – only a sophomore, too! – was terrific, making several point-blank saves and keeping the scoreline close.  If she continues to improve she will be a great pick for some NWSL team in a year or two.

Kerr UP 3-29-135.  Allie Long is the real deal.  Her goal – a 22-yard rocket – was lovely, and she was a continuous menace to the Pilots defense that otherwise handled the Thorns attack fairly decently.

6.  Overall the Thorns look…well, something rather like this year’s Timbers.  Possession football with some intelligent movement off the ball and (after a bit of sorting-out) some precise passing.  A defense that consistently pushes up the pitch and, as a result, is vulnerable to the quick counter.  Solid but not brilliant keeping.

The crowd sounded evenly divided between Thorn and Pilot supporters, and both seemed well-pleased with the teams’ performance.  The Purple Passions (or whatever the University of Portland supporters group calls itself) provided a local counterpoint to the small Thorns Alliance contingent and some unintentional comedy – for all that they had the drums that the Thorns supporters didn’t they clearly haven’t worked up their own chants; Timbers Army veterans got a smile from hearing “Portland Boys We Are Hear” coming from the far end of the pitch for a change.

The Thorns seem to be absorbing the culture of their brother club; the team trotted down to the West End and applauded their supporters as Merlo emptied out.

Two weeks until the Thorns’ first match and the buds appear ready to open.

Meet the Thorns FC free agent signees and supplemental draft picks

Portland Thorns FC have added more players to the team’s roster with the signing of four free agents and five picks in the NWSL Supplemental draft. The nine additional players brings the current roster to 20 players.

Thorns FC Free Agent Signings

Becky EdwardsBecky Edwards
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-8
Born: May 22, 1988, in Downington, Pa.
Hometown: Downington, Pa.
Last Club: Kristianstads DFF (Sweden)
College: Florida State Univ.
Nationality: United States

In 2012, Edwards scored two goals in 18 matches (17 starts), helping Kristianstads DFF to a fifth-place finish in the Swedish league standings.

Allie LongAllie Long
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-8
Born: Aug. 13, 1987, in Huntington, N.Y.
Hometown: Northport, N.Y.
Last Club: New York Fury (WPSL Elite)
College: Univ. of North Carolina
Nationality: United States

In 2012, Long played for the New York Fury of the Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPSL) Elite, helping lead the team to a 9-3-2 overall record and a berth in the WPSL Elite playoff semifinals.

Nikki MarshallNikki Marshall
Position: Defender
Height: 5-7
Born: June 2, 1988, in Thornton, Colo.
Hometown: Mead, Colo.
Last Club: Western New York Flash (WPSL Elite)
College: Univ. of Colorado
Nationality: United States

In 2012, Marshall was part of the WPS Elite championship winning Western New York Flash. She brings versatility to her new club as she can play any position on the backline.

Nikki WashingtonNikki Washington
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-4
Born: Aug. 1, 1988, in Dallas, Texas
Hometown: Mesquite, Texas
Last Club: Canberra United (Australia)
College: Univ. of North Carolina
Nationality: United States

Washington is coming off a short stint as an injury replacement with Canberra United, of the Westfield W-League in Australia, tallying three goals in five appearances.

Thorns FC Supplemental Draft Picks

mariandalmyMarian Dalmy
Position: Defender
Height: 5-9
Born: Nov. 25, 1984, in Denver, Colo.
Hometown: Lakewood, Colo.
Last Club: magicJack (WPS)
College: Santa Clara University
Nationality: United States

Dalmy is a player rumored to have not been interested in playing in NWSL. She last played for magicJack in 2011. If she plays, Thorns FC will be adding another quality defender with national team experience to the squad.

tinaellertsonTina Ellertson
Position: Defender
Height: 5-9
Born: May 20, 1982, in Vancouver, Wash.
Hometown: Vancouver, Wash.
Last Club: magicJack (WPS)
College: University of Washington
Nationality: United States

Ellertson brings a wealth of experience to the club, if she actually plays. Earlier this week, Ellertson announced on Twitter: “Not playing pro ball this year guys! Family First!!!” It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Richard Farley from Pro Soccer Talk did report on Thursday that  Portland is optimistic that Ellertson will “eventually suit up for the team.”

LOPT_Angie_Web_HeadshotAngie Kerr
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-5
Born: March 29, 1985, in San Diego, Calif.
Hometown: El Cajon, Calif.
Last Club: Sky Blue FC (WPS)
College: University of Portland
Nationality: United States

Portland Pilot fans will be excited to welcome Kerr back to the Rose City. She’ll be reunited with former Pilot teammate Christine Sinclair, as well as U-19 teammate Rachel Buehler.

jessicashufeltJessica Shufelt
Position: Forward
Height: 5-7
Born: May 29, 1990, in Rochester, N.Y.
Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
Last Club: Ottawa Fury (USL W-League)
College: University of Connecticut
Nationality: United States

At 22, Jessica is the youngest of the Supplemental Draft picks. She played for the USL W-League champion, Ottawa Fury in 2012, registering one goal and two assists in 12 appearances.

micheleweissenhoferMichele Weissenhofer
Position: Forward
Height: 5-4
Born: Aug.18, 1987, in Naperville, Ill.
Hometown: Naperville, Ill.
Last Club: Chicago Red Stars (WPSL Elite)
College: University of Notre Dame
Nationality: United States

Chicago Red Stars fans on Twitter were not happy to see Weissenhofer picked up by Thorns FC in Thursday’s Supplemental Draft. Weissenhofer played a key role for the Red Stars last season in WPSL Elite, helping lead the team to the championship game. She scored five goals in 12 matches for the club.

The Portland Thorns FC roster-building process continues today marking the beginning of the signing of Discovery Players. Clubs may claim up to four Discovery Players, securing the rights to sign those players heading into preseason training camps. Discovery Players may be either international or domestic. Players who were eligible for but not selected in the Supplemental Draft may be claimed as Discovery Players. The rights to Discovery Players will be allocated to a team on a “date of submission priority” basis. If two teams submit the same player, the team that submitted the player first will have the opportunity to sign that player.

Over the weekend, the team will be holding tryouts as well. Tryouts will be held at JELD-WEN Field from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 9th and Sunday, February 10th. Additional details can be found on the Portland Thorns FC website.

 

 

Game of Thorns

So here is the official list of internationals allocated to the Thorns:

USWNT:  Rachel Beuhler (D), Alex Morgan (F) , Tobin Heath (M)

MWNT: Luz del Rosario Saucedo (D), Marlene Sandoval (D)

CWNT: Karina LeBlanc (GK), Christine Sinclair (F)

Just a couple of thoughts:

Obviously the combination of Morgan and Sinclair will make the Thorns’ attack a challenge for any of the other teams in this league.  I loved watching Sinclair play at Merlo and look forward to seeing her play again in Portland.

In the times I’ve seen her LeBlanc appears to be a steady keeper with safe hands; I would consider her a good addition to the team.

Beuhler is a workmanlike USWNT defender.  I am unfamiliar with either of the two Mexico players.  In addition, I cannot find a “Marlene Sandoval” listed for Las Tri – there is a “Rubí Sandoval” who is this player identified as a defender.  Both Mexican defenders are experienced (Saucedo is 27, Sandoval 28 assuming this is the right Sandoval) but with a side not well known for its steadiness in the back.

Overall, I like what we’re getting.  Onward, Rose City!

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?