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2017 Preview: Portland Thorns FC
Can the Thorns win another NWSL Shield?
(Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)
(Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

The Portland Thorns returned to the postseason last year after a one-year absence from the playoffs as coach Mark Parsons guided a team littered with international stars back into title contention. A home loss after extra time to the eventual champions is the only thing that kept them out of their second NWSL Championship Game. Can they cash in on what expects to be another dominant season?

 

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 12-3-5, 41 pts (1st place)

Goals for: 35  (2nd)

Goals against: 19   (1st)

Home record: 8-1-1 (1st)

Away record: 4-2-4(1st)

 

Key returners

Tobin Heath (Goal, 10 assists)

Christine Sinclair (6 goals, 2 assists)

Allie Long (6 goals, 2 assists)

Lindsey Horan (5 goals)

Emily Menges (20 appearances, 1,800 minutes)

 

The Portland Thorns bring back nearly their entire core from the team that went unbeaten in their first 12 games last year on their way to claiming the 2016 NWSL Shield for the league’s best regular-season record.

The Thorns will look to 2016 NWSL Best XI member Tobin Heath, Allie Long and Emily Menges to once again be the foundation of the team. Long and Heath both competed for the U.S. Women’s National Team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Menges saw her strong performance in the league last season translate into her first call up to train with the USWNT.

In addition, Portland coach Mark Parsons will also have Canada international Christine Sinclair, Denmark international Nadia Nadim and U.S. international Lindsey Horan at his disposal again in 2017. The trio combined to score 20 goals for last season – nearly 60 percent of the entire offense for the club.

 

New additions

Ashleigh Sykes (Canberra United)

Already one of the most formidable attacks in the NWSL, the Thorns will welcome additional firepower in the form of striker Ashleigh Sykes to what was the No. 2 offense in the league last season.

Sykes played for Australian club Canberra United during the 2016-17 Westfield W-League season and scored a league-leading 12 goals while leading the team to claim the W-League Premiership for the best regular-season record.

The 25-year-old forward made her professional debut at 17 and has scored more than 30 goals over nine seasons in Australia. She has earned 19 international appearances for Australia – including two at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada where the Matildas reached the quarterfinals.

 

Draft picks

 

Rd.           Selection              Player                                        Pos.                           College

 

Round 2, No. 14 overall: Rachel Hill (F/M, UCONN)

Round 2, No. 18 overall: Savannah Jordan (F, Florida)

Round 3, No. 21 overall: Tyler Lussi  (F, Princeton)

Round 4, No. 40 overall: Caroline Flynn (M/D, Nebraska)

 

The Thorns selected UCONN forward Rachel Hill with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, but soon after sent her to the Orlando Pride in exchange for a first-round and fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft.

Portland picked Florida forward Savannah Jordan with the No. 18 overall selection but will not have her available for the 2017 NWSL season after she signed with Scottish club Glasgow City FC.

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