Thorns ready for fresh talent
CLUB TARGETS HORAN, FRANCH, OVERSEAS PLAYERS AS IT REBUILDS
Fresh off bringing in new coach Mark Parsons and the blockbuster trade to send superstar Alex Morgan to expansion Orlando, the Portland Thorns rebuilding effort is finally coming together, piece by piece.
The club is close to announcing the acquisition of Lindsey Horan, the American striker who went pro out of high school, according to sources close to the National Womens Soccer League.
The 21-year-old has played with Paris Saint-Germain since passing on a North Carolina scholarship in 2012. But this weekend, she played her final game with PSG, finishing with 45 goals over three seasons, 62 appearances total.
A source tells the Tribune that Portland wasnt sure the Colorado native could be persuaded to leave PSG when the team acquired her rights from the Orlando Pride. But because she will sign with Portland, the Thorns will give Orlando the 10th overall pick in the upcoming college draft to complete the trade.
The trade initially had Morgan and Kaylyn Kyle sent to Orlando in exchange for Horans NWSL rights, the top pick of the college draft, Orlandos first expansion draft pick, and an international roster slot.
Horan will be a familiar name for followers of the U.S. womens national team, where lately she appears to be breaking into the roster ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Sources declined to speak on the record because the deal is not finalized, but said it appears Horans budding opportunities with the national team are a factor in her decision to return stateside.
The Thorns are set for another high-quality acquisition on the other end of the field, too. Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch is expected to return to the NWSL from a year in Norway in a deal that is still pending, according to sources.
Portland will receive Franchs rights from Orlando, but sources declined to share the full terms of the trade because it is not finalized. Franch last played stateside for the Western New York Flash but had a season-ending injury early last year. She spent 2015 with Norwegian club Avaldsnes IL.
Thorns goalkeeper Michelle Betos is staying in Portland and will likely battle for the starting spot with Franch under new goalkeeper coach Nadine Angerer.
The Thorns are still targeting more overseas talent to complete their roster. The club is in talks with at least two high-profile international players from Europe and Asia, a source said. Ever since Spains Vero Boquete departed Portland for the Bundesliga, Portland has missed having a talismanic playmaker in the midfield, and at least one of the players they are targeting is a No. 10.
The overseas target should help fill in the roster from trades earlier this fall. In October, the Thorns gave Boston midfielders Sinead Farelly and McCall Zerboni, staples of their central core, in exchange for Icelandic international Dagny Brynjarsdottir.
While the club has sustained some high-profile losses most notably Morgan, but also the retirement of Angerer the roster appears to be filling up with plenty of talent that the club is optimistic will improve upon Portlands finish this year. The club missed the playoffs in 2015 for the first time in its three-year history.
According to one source, the Thorns front office expects to win the NWSL championship in 2016 and is making the trades to do so. Time will tell if the trades were the right ones.