Thursday Roundup: Portland Thorns Announce Preseason Tournament

The Equalizer Staff January 19, 2017 47


The Portland Thorns clinched the 2016 NWSL Shield with a 3-1 over Sky Blue. (Photo Courtesy Portland Thorns FC)

The Portland Thorns clinched the 2016 NWSL Shield with a 3-1 over Sky Blue. (Photo Courtesy Portland Thorns FC)


Following last year’s positive reception, the Portland Thorns will once again host a preseason tournament. The Thorns Spring Invitational will take place on their home grounds at Providence Park from March 26 to April 1. The Houston Dash, who participated last year, will make a return alongside first-timers Chicago Red Stars and the U-23 USWNT, who recently wrapped up their first camp of the year alongside the senior team.

The tournament will consist of a round-robin format with doubleheaders taking place across three days. Tickets for the entire tournament are included with Thorns season memberships, while individual tickets will go on sale February 21.

The Dash also announced their preseason schedule today. They will host Baylor University at Houston Sports Park on March 18, head to Portland for the invitation on March 26 and wrap up on April 6 at Texas A&M University. Preseason begins on March 13.


The Seattle Reign announced they have re-signed forward Kiersten Dallstream for the 2017 season. The Washington State product has been with the club since the formation of the NWSL in 2013. She added 12 appearances for the Reign in 2016, bringing her career total to 55.

“Kiersten is obviously someone that’s been part of the squad since day one,” said Reign coach Laura Harvey. “She has developed her game over the last 18 months, and physically has gotten in a lot better shape than she was before. I think last year she proved she can come in and have a real impact in games.”

Janine Beckie celebrates scoring a last-minute winner for Canada against Brazil on Tuesday in Ottawa. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

Janine Beckie celebrates scoring a last-minute winner for Canada against Brazil on Tuesday in Ottawa. (Photo: Canada Soccer)


Head Coach John Herdman released his roster today for the CanWNT’s first training camp of 2017, beginning tomorrow in Los Angeles. The roster includes many familiar NWSL faces as well as recent draftees. Josee Belanger will join camp on January 30. Sophie Schmidt and Rebecca Quinn were left off due to injury, while Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence are discussing both the camp and the upcoming game with their respective French clubs. Jessie Fleming, enrolled in classes at UCLA, was also left off the roster but may attend some sessions with the team.

Canada will host Mexico in Vancouver on February 4 to celebrate their bronze medal from the Rio Olympics. The match will also honor recently-announced retirees Melissa Tancredi, Rhian Wilkinson and Marie-Eve Nault.

Goalkeepers: Sabrina D’Angelo (North Carolina Courage); Stephanie Labbé (Washington Spirit); Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue FC)

Defenders: Ashley Cathro (Vancouver Whitecaps FC); Allysha Chapman (Boston Breakers); Amandine Pierre-Louis (West Virginia University); Hannah Taylor (Eastside FC); Shelina Zadorsky (Washington Spirit)

Midfielders: Diana Matheson (Washington Spirit); Deanne Rose (Scarborough GS United); Desiree Scott (FC Kansas City); Sarah Stratigakis (Aurora United FC)

Forwards: Lindsay Agnew (Washington Spirit); Janine Beckie (Houston Dash); Gabrielle Carle (Dynamo Québec & Québec Soccer REX); Jordyn Huitema (Vancouver Whitecaps); Adriana Leon (FC Zürich); Alex Lamontagne (Durham United FC); Marie Levasseur (University of Memphis); Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash); Valérie Sanderson (Comètes de Laval); Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC)

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)


USWNT coach Jill Ellis and players Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Allie Long spoke to members of the media today about evolving tactics, their roles, team changes and new faces.

Ellis on midfielder and No.1 draft pick Rose Lavelle:

“We waited a long time to get Rose in, and I think she’s done very well … She’s a very skillful player, operates in between seams and spaces, and she’s done well. I’m pleased with her.”

On playing a three-back formation:

“We’ve played out of a back three, we’ve built out of a back three for almost a year. Now we’re playing it more defensively as well. I like it. Like I said, it gives us numerical superiority somewhere else on the field, whether it’s in the midfield or up high.”

Lloyd on the changing face of the team:

“We lost some legendary pieces to this team, pieces that will never be replaced. That’s just how it is. We’ve also gained some different blood, some new, energized players. Players who maybe haven’t been in the mix, who are really just kind of fighting for positions. We do have, obviously, some veteran players still around. Ultimately, I think we are a different team, but I think that the game in general, women’s soccer, is different as well.”

Long on her new role at centerback:

“I love having a high percentage of possession, so just making sure my possession is good, [that I’m] good on tackles, and just continuing one step at a time, every time I play and step on the field.”

Morgan on training in France:

“For me, it’s good to challenge myself to come back for the ball, find those pockets in front of the back line, and maybe if they don’t follow me, turn and run at the defenders. Making those decisions, as well as more playing a No. 10 in those situations, playing the ball through to my other No. 9 or whatever it might be.”





  • Som Termanni

    Allie Long’s trial by fire. Either she becomes something she’s never been and grows into a center back role, or she’s a pariah who costs Jill Ellis her job. Either way, America wins.

    • wosofan

      How is Jill Ellis going to lose her job for experimenting in a year that is basically just for experimenting and evaluating?

      • HOFCToDi

        Sunil Gulati could care less if the USWNT was struggling.

      • Som Termanni

        “How is Tom Sermanni going to lose his job for experimenting in a year that is basically just for experimenting and evaluating?” -somebody, probably, in 2014

        USSF is stupid. Their trademark is doing stupid things and succeeding in spite of it.

  • guest

    jill also made it clear that Lloyd is a forward now.

    • guest

      is Houston going to play her there? I’d like to see how she stacks up against Press, my predicted winner of the golden boot race.

  • Chak Khan

    I have become the fan of NWSL starting with the 2016 Championship (yeah, Johnny come lately). Is playing with the U23 WNT a recently adopted phenomenal or it has always been? If the latter, why not having matches with the senior WNT team as well in years leading to the WWC? That should prepare any NWSL player for the next step up to the senior WNT.

    • mockmook

      I believe this is will be the first time any NWSL team has played any USA NT.

      I think it’s great promotion for the League — don’t ask me why it has never happened before.

      • Lorehead

        In the past, they always played the U of Portland Pilots, who have a pretty big local fanbase.

      • disqus_risYMRx7iD

        because its ussoccer – ’bout time they did something useful with the u23’s, Will they make this content available to the consumers? of course not

    • kernel_thai

      U23 roster tends to be seasonal. During the college season u get mostly player post college…during the pro season it consists of mostly college players. I doubt any NWSL players get released for this so it will mostly college players. U might see some U23 from Portland/Houston/Chicago play against there clubs if the coach thinks it gets the player more field time. For example, if Houston still has three GKs it would be better for Houston to have Campbell play for the U23s.

      • Steglitz49

        I don’t understand why Houston picked Campbell but one assumes there must have been method in their madness.

        • kernel_thai

          The theory is that Williams won’t be staying in the US beyond this year.

          • Steglitz49

            Where is she going?

  • GT

    I assume the NWSL teams with U23 players (which may be all of them) will release their players for this tournament? What about Portland, Houston and Chicago, which team will their U-23 players play on? Oh, who cares. Disregard my comment.

    • wosofan

      The U23 players will most likely play for the teams they are on for the NWSL as it is a preseason tournament to get the NWSL teams ready and is nothing but an exhibition for the U23s.

  • My take

    “…Lloyd on the changing face of the team:
    “We lost some legendary pieces to this team, pieces that will never be replaced…”

    I guess Solo is one of the pieces and is definitely gone. Rampone seems just will not say the word “retirement”.

    • JL

      Rampone will likely never have a sendoff game, but she’s done with the NT. She just doesn’t want a farewell match.

      • mockmook

        Still, there is nothing holding her back from saying she is retired (unless it is a paycheck).

  • Gary Diver

    So Amandine Pierre-Louis is on the Canadian national team and plays for WVU. How many Canadians were on the WVU roster? I wonder how WVU does their scouting of Canadian players?

    • guest

      WVU and WVU coach have a long history of recruiting Canadian players
      the 2016 WVU woso roster had at least 7 Canadian players (Buchanan, Foster, Lawrence, Kith, Pierre-Louis, Portillo, St Georges) by birth

      • Gary Diver

        Thank you for the information. I know there must be a long-term history with the WVU-Canada connection, but it is still an unusual situation. Most Canadians live within 200 miles of the US border, so I would have expected some US colleges near Canada to eye Canadian prospects. WVU is over 300 miles from the Canadian border and West Virginia is not a place most Canadians even knows exists and they certainly don’t know anything about it.

  • Gary Diver

    USWNT 3-Back Formation

    I don’t understand why Ellis is going to a 3-back formation. But I do have a list of questions:

    1. Does the 3-back formation have only one CB and two OBs? Does this mean Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston are not both needed on the field at the same time?

    2. Is there one more MF?

    3. Does going to a 3-back formation imply the current USWNT squad can’t move the ball forward through the midfield?

    4. “It gives us numerical superiority somewhere else on the field, whether it’s in the midfield or up high.” What evidence is there that a 3-back formation leads to quicker ball movement and more goals?

    5. Doesn’t a 3-back formation make the team more vulnerable to counter-attacks?

    6. Why Allie Long? Is she fast enough? Is she a good tackler? Is she a great passer? (Neither Sauerbrunn nor Johnston are good passers. That is why USWNT back line plays around with the ball and takes so long to move forward after they get the ball.)

    7. Is this an example of trying to fix a problem by creating other problems elsewhere?

    • Bruce

      I see it as a risky formation if the former OBs (Krieger, Short, etc.) are asked to push up. Johnston and Brunn look like liabilities on the outside.

      • kernel_thai

        First I would have stopped looking at this as a long term solution (and we really don’t know if Ellis is looking at it like that) if I was of the opinion that Sauerbrunn couldn’t play the center role. Not only r they trying to create a CB out of a player on the down side of her career but they r moving one of the best CBs in the world out of her position.

        Second, if this was something I really wanted to do, Id be looking at CBs in the 20-24 age group and concentrating on getting them ready to move into this role down the line. Even if Long can handle this role there is no guarantee she’ll still be able to do it in France.

        • Steglitz49

          The fundamental problem is that Brunn and Long got torched in Brasilia. Any manager worth her salt will have reviewed that match many times to see how to play the US.

          Brunn is a step or two too slow now and Long is a big questionmark.

    • Constant Weeder

      I don’t feel very well qualified to answer this, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone else, so:

      I see the “3-back” as a potential solution the the problem of bunkering opponents. I see it as basically a 3:2:3:2 which, given highly mobile OBs (or wingbacks) can switch quickly between offensive and defensive modes.

      1, It often seems to involve 3 CBs.

      2. There can be one or two more MFs or one or two more defenders, given sufficient anticipation and speed.

      3. Last year’s team had a lot of trouble moving the ball forward through the midfield against a bunkering defense.

      4. If you want evidence, you have to try it. What better time will there be to gather data?

      5. Potentially it can make the team more vulnerable to counters, as we’ve seen. (But the vulnerability could also be attributed to having all the defenders too high on the field.) I don’t subscribe to Paul Riley’s “they score 5 but we score 6” philosophy, but I don’t think success requires that every game be a shutout.

      6. I’m a big fan of Allie Long, so take this with a grain of salt if you wish. Allie isn’t a speedster, but she has improved her situational awareness to the point where she doesn’t always need to win a footrace. She has become an excellent passer. Regardless of personnel, if the defenders are playing on the center line, they are sometimes going to get beat. Hopefully the increased offensive potential will make that risk worthwhile.

      7. Everything is a tradeoff. And every opponent will need a different calibration.

      What I see developing under Ellis is a very fluid style of play, which will eventually enable the team to concentrate numbers wherever they are needed, just in time to counter a threat or take advantage of an opportunity.
      I think it will be fun to watch.

      • Bruce

        I should use your disclaimer on all of my posts here.

        • Steglitz49


          It reminds me of an interview with the skier Vikky Rebensburg. Vikky had been having a poor start to the season and the interviewer suggested that it was because she had had trouble with her equipment.

          “That is a great answer. I must remember that”, said Rebensburg. — “What do you mean?” asked the interviewer. — “When I win, it is because my brilliance but when I lose, it is the fault of the equipment.” She said it with a smile implying that no reasonable person would hold such a simplisic view.

    • Arcie Tillydee

      On question 6: Allie’s not a speedster, although by CB standards, she’s reasonably pacey (on her club team, though, both Emilies are faster, with Menges being _much_ faster). She’s a very good passer, and can hold the ball effectively against determined attempts to dispossess (she’s probably the best Thorn besides Sinc at hold-up play). I can see why Ellis tried this experiment, even if I think it’s really risky against some of the better teams.

      With the Thorns, Allie’s most likely to stay in something of a box-to-box role. Both defensive mids in the starting 11 can range forward effectively (Henry is simply world class at this). A double pivot in which either player can move up the field while the other stays home can work really well with a 3-person back line (particularly given the speed the Thorns have back there). But I’d think that back line would be Klingenberg, Menges, and Sonnet.

    • mockmook

      You should read the comments section at a site called The Equalizer — so, what follows is a recap of things already covered there:

      1) This is more a philosophical question: How central do u need to be to be a CB? Most sites I have visited consider the 3 backs as CBs

      1) As Bruce said, JJ and Brunn might not be the best choices as the outer CBs

      2) There is either an additional mf (3-5-2) or FW (3-4-3)

      3) The main motivation seems to be to get more players attacking against bunkered teams

      4) The quote has nothing to do with your question. Anyway, the 3 back doesn’t change how quickly people play (unless u tell them to change). And no formation change (by itself) doesn’t mean more or less goals. Coaches make gazillions of dollars to try to find the key to more goals — ever once in a while, the key is a formation change.

      5) No more vulnerable than when JE has both OBs go forward from her 4 back line

      6) Allie Long isn’t great at anything, but she is very very very very good at a number of things. That combination of skills MIGHT make her a very good center CB

      7) Every action has a negative impact somewhere — the question is “Is this action a net plus in winning soccer games?”

      • Gary Diver

        “Allie Long isn’t great at anything, but she is very very very very good at a number of things. That combination of skills MIGHT make her a very good center CB.” Interesting and funny comment.

        If beating a bunker defense is the problem, I am not sure a formation chance is the answer. There are two keys to a successful bunker strategy: (1) good defenders, and (2) allow the defenders to make their defensive form in the final third. One of USWNT’s problems is that they take too long to move the ball forward once they get it. Time and time again the USWNT defenders play around passing the ball back and forth between each other before going forward. (A big problem is that few of USWNT’s defenders are great passers.) So the opponents have adequate time to form their defensive formation and at that point it is very difficult to break through. (The issue is a little like war battlefield strategy.) The best way to break a bunker defensive is to counter-attack quickly before the defenders can set up this positions and that is what USWNT is terrible at.

        • Bruce

          I don’t agree with your assessment of how to beat a bunker. You are essentially advocating more direct play (blah) and totally missing the option of breaking down the defense with combination play and off-ball movement.

          Hoping to counter-attack against teams that really doesn’t attack really isn’t a feasible strategy.

          • Steglitz49

            Verily and forsooth.

        • kernel_thai

          The consistency here is Ellis completely discounting defensive skills in favor of offense. IMO CB is one of the hardest positions to learn and the notion that u can just throw someone there because she is tall and can make a penetrating pass is pretty insulting to someone who has put in the enumerable hours learning to defend. Personally I don’t have a problem with a 3back if u have the players for it. Again square pegs is Ellis’ guiding light.

          • Steglitz49

            Who would you want to see in the backline looking forward to WC-19?

          • mockmook

            I’m sure Allie Long has also put in many hours learning how to defend.

  • Bruce

    W-League Round 13 Game on ESPN3 Saturday at 9:30 pm Eastern. Canberra vs. Western Sydney.

    Should be a high scoring (if not competitive) game. Canberra leads W-League in goals scored and put up 7 against a strong Perth side last week. Western Sydney is last in defense and conceded 10 (!) to last place Adelaide in Round 12.

    Ashleigh Sykes of Canberra is playing with great form, and is now tied in the chase for the golden boot with Sam Kerr with 10 goals.

    • Constant Weeder

      ESPN3 is currently listing the time as Saturday 10:25 pm EST. Not sure why the discrepancy.

      • Bruce

        Good catch CW. I forgot to do the math this time, as ESPN shows me the time for my local time zone (CST). I’ve edited my post to show the correct time.

  • Bruce

    Here’s what left of the U23 roster when you remove players that have been drafted or are currently under contract with NWSL teams.

    Sarah Luebbert (Missouri ,FW)
    Savannah McCaskill (South Carolina ,FW)
    Hailey Skolmoski (Utah ,FW)
    Crystal Thomas (Georgetown ,FW)
    Tierna Davidson (Stanford ,MF)
    Jordan DiBiasi (Stanford ,MF)
    Megan Dougherty Howard (Florida ,MF)
    Brianna Pinto (CASL ,MF)
    Ashley Sanchez (So Cal Blues ,MF)
    Tavia Leachman (Utah ,DF)
    Sydney Miramontez (Nebraska ,DF)
    Gabrielle Seiler (Florida ,DF)
    Laurel Ivory (West Florida Flames ,GK)
    Casey Murphy (Rutgers ,GK)
    Hannah Seabert (Pepperdine ,GK)

    • Bruce

      I’d think that the following U23’s won’t be participating in the Thorn’s invitational.

      Makenzy Doniak (Western New York Flash ,FW)
      Danica Evans (Colorado ,FW)
      Ashley Hatch (BYU ,FW)
      Morgan Andrews (USC ,MF)
      Tyler Lussi (Princeton ,MF)
      Ifeoma Onumonu (California ,MF)
      Toni Payne (Duke ,MF)
      Margaret Purce (Harvard ,MF)
      Morgan Proffitt (Marquette ,MF)
      Maddie Bauer (Stanford ,DF)
      Mandy Freeman (USC ,DF)
      Kayla Mills (USC ,DF)
      Erica Skroski (Sky Blue FC ,DF)
      Samantha Witteman (Orlando Pride ,DF)
      Madalyn Schiffel (Seattle Reign FC ,GK)

    • mockmook

      Wasn’t Dougherty Howard drafted?

      • Bruce

        That’s right. My matching formulas missed as the EQ has listed her as Maggie instead of Megan. I’ve updated both lists.

        That only leaves 14 players, and I’d expect that a few of those will be fighting for roster spots as walk-ons. Really wonder if the U23 will be able to field a team based on current camp roster.

        • mockmook

          They may have to pull in some more college eligible players.

          But, it would also be an opportunity for some graduating/graduated players who weren’t drafted — they could play on the U-23 team if front of 3 NWSL head coaches and try to make an impression.

          It will be interesting to see what sort of mix of players will be on the U-23 team.

          • Steglitz49

            The ladies U23 team is a consolation prize for those who don’t make the seniors. The reason for this is that unlike the men’s U23, the ladies team has no independent role.

            The ladies U19/20 and U17 are meaningful though.

        • mockmook

          Anyway, going with your premise (perhaps no 2016 seniors, no 2017 draftees, no established NWSL players), here is a team of underclassmen that can go toe to toe with any NWSL team: