Hi, extra cuties! How is Soccer City USA doing? Did you miss me? No? That’s okay. The last time I wrote, I was in a hysterical spin of championship bliss when the Portland Thorns clenched the 2017 championship against the North Carolina Courage. ENDLESS WINDMILL TAP DANCE FINALE WITH QUESTIONABLE PYROTECHNICS!
Since then I have oscillated between bliss and frantic anxiety about the general state of the union. BUT FINALLY, after months of rabid anticipation, the NWSL released the 2018 schedule! GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, AND PEACE TO HIS PEOPLE ON EARTH. There is a light at the end of this dank dark tunnel of splinters. THE 2018 NWSL SEASON IS UPON US. LET US CAPS LOCK AND REJOICE!
If you know me—and you likely don’t as I don't get out much and have a nervous laugh that sounds “judgy” to a lot of people—I don’t like change. I'm skeptical of new additions to any team that I follow and don’t approve of people “retiring” or “making choices that better suit their career goals.” Despite my argument of, “We won last year, why would we change anything?” The league still had a draft, there were numerous trades and deals; a team left the league (BOO KANSAS CITY) and a team joined the league (YAY UTAH).
A lot has happened, which is why I've combed through the Thorn’s 2017 championship roster to give you an idea of what’s been going on since you been gone, KELLY CLARKSON. Yes, there are more additions to this roster than are listed below—but I'll get to that later!
Katherine Reynolds: GOOD NEWS! She’s back, she’s healthy, and she’s ready to defend! Kat has been playing professionally since the WPS league and has been with the Thorns since 2016. She’s solid, fast, and a quiet cornerstone of the defense. REYNOLDS WRAP IS BACK TO STOP THE ATTACK!
Emily Menges isn’t going anywhere. SO DON’T PANIC. Menges might as well work for the Oregon Department of Transportation because she LOCKS UP THE BACK WITH MORE RED TAPE THAN THE DMV.
Lindsey Horan: Just like that weird rash you’ve been battling since Christmas, Lindsey Horan is still here and unrelenting! Horan was, in my opinion, the consistent game changer last season; one of those midfielders that's everywhere all the time, LIKE THAT RASH. She’s been rocking a Thorn's jersey since 2016, but crushing the international scene since 2013.
Allie Long: BAD NEWS YOU GUYS. Allie Long is no longer playing for the Portland Thorns. WORST POSSIBLE NEWS: Allie Long is now playing for the Seattle Reign. This story broke in early January and if you're anything like me, you spent the next couple weeks wondering, “What did I do? How can I get her to stay? I mean, if she would have just talked to me, I could have done something... but to just up and go to Seattle?”
Honestly, I don’t disparage any team in our tiny little league—even Seattle. The rivalry is real, but I know that in a way, Portland needs Seattle. This league may not be big, but it's competitive for sure. Maybe Allie Long was just ready for a change. Maybe she was too overwhelmed with the love this city had for her. Maybe we were TOO good to her. Or, maybe, Allie Long simply wanted more playing time. It just stings… mostly because I take things like this WAY (and I mean, WAAAYYY) too personally. FOR DRAMATIC INSTANCE: Remember how HEARTBROKEN I was when Thorns goalkeeper Michelle Betos left to go play in Norway last year? WAIT... WHAT? MICHELLE BETOS IS ALSO GOING TO BE PLAYING FOR SEATTLE THIS YEAR?
I don’t know how to root against these two—I just can’t do it. Does this make me a Reign fan? MY BODY FEELS WEIRD. WHY CAN’T I STOP CRYING? IS THIS MENOPAUSE?
Dagny Brynjarsdottir is headed to BABY TOWN! From what I understand, Brynjarsdottir was totally down to start the season with the Thorns, but her unborn child REFUSED. She plans to return late in the 2018 season. I will continue to pat myself on the back every time I spell Brynjarsdottir correctly. (HIGH FIVES HERSELF IN PUBLIC)
Christine Sinclair: Thank your two lucky stars that this burst of talent and poise is back for another season in Portland. She’s been in P-Town since her college years at the University of Portland, and her loyalty to this city is met and matched by her fan support. SHE’S A CANADIAN SENSATION AND HERE FOR THE DURATION.
Celeste Boureille: Yup, she’s back. Boureille spent her offseason CRUSHING in the Australian W league with Raso. And boy, did they make the Brisbane Roar!
Meg Morris: Back attack! I love watching Meg Morris play—it just seems so rare that I get the opportunity. She was hurt the majority of the 2016 season, then more of the same in ‘17. But she’s back on the pitch, practicing with the team and ready to resume her place up front.
Emily Sonnett dazzled everyone down under while playing for Sydney FC in the Australian W League during the offseason. She started every single game last year for the Thorns and played every signal minute. Her one assist last year was in the championship match, and as the Thorns top defender she tallied three goals in 2017. WEAR YOUR BLUE BLOCKERS—SHE’S PURE FIRE
Savannah Jordan: What’s that? Don't you remember Savannah Jordan? That’s okay. She was drafted by the Thorns in 2017, but didn't arrive until the season was half over after playing in Europe. After recovering from an injury, she played two matches and was recently traded to Houston.
Tobin Heath: Everyone loves Tobin Heath! She’s a world-class favorite! A real class act! She’s two kicks and a high five! Last year we waited for game after game and month after month to get Heath back from injury. WELL GUESS WHAT? She's hurt again. DAMN IT. Settle down. It’s not like she broke her back or anything. Reports say she’ll be back at the start of the season. CONSIDER MY BREATH BATED.
Hayley Raso: Raso is like a Supreme Court justice—SHE NEVER QUITS. Raso kept the game going in Australia’s W League all through the offseason. This Shelia is back in Portland for 2018 and she’s no bludger! THIS WOMAN WILL RASO DAZZLE YOU UNTIL YOU CHOKE ON SEQUINS!!!!
Adrianna Franch: Yup, the 2017 NWSL goalkeeper of the year is sticking around in Portland, and nope, the USWNT hasn’t called her up yet. Remember how I was so leery of Franch when she first started with the Thorns, because I was so worried about change? LOOK HOW DUMB I WAS. GO AHEAD LAUGH.
Meghan Klingenberg: You can’t win games without goals and you can’t get goals without assists. Klingenberg led the Thorns with six assists in 2017. In addition to assisting goals, she’s also scored three of her own goals for the USWNT and is a defensive ROADBLOCK on all accounts.
Mallory Weber: Midfield Back attack! She may not start every match, but she’s stone cold solid as a second-half sub.
Kendall Johnson: After three seasons with the Thorns, Kendall Johnson was released. She was quickly picked up by the league's brand new team, the Utah Royals. Johnson’s second and third season with the Thorns were riddled with repercussions from a head injury while she was on loan to a team in Australia.
Nadia Nadim: This is a tough one. I need for you to please sit down and know that this blog is a safe space. I promise you we will be okay. Deep breath, okay here we go: Nadia Nadim will not be playing with the Portland Thorns. Shush, shhhhh, it’s okay, it’s okay... we are okay. Listen, at least she’s not going to be playing for another NWSL team, right? Nadim has signed to play for Manchester City. See? It’s okay, in fact, you can still follow and root for her at every penalty kick, because we will not have to defend that. I know, I will miss her too. So, so much.
Amandine Henry: In the words of Hall and Oats—SHE’S GONE. No, she didn’t die, she’s alive and well and back playing for Olympique Lyon. Au Revoir Henry, Portland will miss your quiet, raw determination.
Britt Eckerstrom: Last year Eckerstrom did not get any time in the goal for the Thorns, but she's keeping her skill set sharp in Australia with the Newcastle Jets. She will be joining the Thorns once again.
Ashleigh Sykes: Well, poots. Ashleigh Sykes decided to retire from professional soccer earlier this month. She will be remembered as a versatile player who was able to instantly meld with the rest of the team, no matter where she was on the field.
Tyler Lussi: DO THE LUSSI WATUSI—SHE’S BACK! This will be Tyler Lussi’s second year back with the Thorns. She started in three matches, played in five, made two assists and scored in one! HOW’S THAT FOR A ROOKIE LIST?
The 2018 season is bound to be another fun year CHOCK-A-BLOCK full of surprises, and ALL CAPS FUN. Follow me on twitter @erinjeanius and look for more blah-blah blogs on Portland Mercury’s Blogtown.
You can also check out the Thorn’s 2018 schedule here and snag yourself some tickets, too!