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Thursday Roundup: Heath Joins Thorns Academy Staff

ALSO IN TODAY’S ROUNDUP, LITTLE OUT OF EUROS, BOULLEAU BACK, PURCE GRADUATES, AND MORE!

Tobin Heath to miss the first two games of the regular season with the Thorns due to injury (photo copyright EriMacPhoto for The Equalizer)

Tobin Heath is taking on a new role in the Thorns organization. (photo copyright EriMacPhoto for The Equalizer)

Portland Thorns and USWNT midfielder Tobin Heath was named the Assistant Youth Technical Director of the Thorns FC Academy, launching this fall as part of the US Soccer Girls’ Development Academy initiative. Although she has yet to appear this season due to injury, Heath has been with the Thorns since the NWSL’s inception in 2013, leading the club to the 2013 NWSL Championship and the 2016 NWSL Shield. She will remain as a player for the Thorns.

“I’m very excited to begin working with the Thorns FC development academy. The formation of the DA and the Thorns involvement has given me a unique opportunity to use my experiences to inspire the next generation of footballers,” said Heath. “First and foremost, my main priority at this point in my career is being the best player I can be, but my ambition is to change the culture of football in this country for the better, and that starts with our youth.”

“Having a player and personality like Tobin invested in the Thorns FC Academy is great for both the club and soccer in general,” said Gavin Wilkinson, the Thorns’ general manager and president of soccer. “Tobin’s passion, technical ability, professionalism and leadership, coupled with her experiences at every level make her the ideal role model to positively influence the direction and growth of the Thorns Academy.”

Heath is a highly decorated player, winning three NCAA championships at the University of North Carolina while also participating in various USYNT competitions. In over 100 caps with the senior USWNT, she has won two Olympic golds and a World Cup, and was named US Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2016. She was named MVP of the 2013 NWSL championship game and the 2016 NWSL Best XI.

LITTLE RUPTURES ACL

Kim Little was Arsenal coach Pedro Martinez Losa's top priority this offseason (Photo: FIFA.com)

Kim Little is out for the Euros. (Photo: FIFA.com)

Scottish midfielder Kim Little ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament during training this week with her FAWSL club Arsenal Ladies (also home to Heather O’Reilly). Little, omitted from Scotland’s roster for international friendlies earlier this week, will miss the upcoming Euros, Scotland’s first appearance in the competition.

The 2015 NWSL MVP spent three seasons with the Seattle Reign, helping the club to back-to-back Shield-winning seasons and championship appearances. Despite not appearing in the league’s inaugural season, she was the NWSL’s leading scorer until she was surpassed by Jess McDonald earlier this year. She won the Golden Boot in 2014, her first season, and was named to the Best XI in both 2014 and 2015. She has over 100 caps for the Scotland Women’s National Team as well as 5 for the Great Britain team that appeared in the 2012 Olympics.

PURCE GRADUATES FROM HARVARD

Harvard Class of 2k17!

A post shared by Midge Purce (@100purcent) on

Boston Breakers forward Margaret Purce graduated from Harvard University today. The 2017 first round draft pick, who studied psychology, immediately departed her graduation ceremony in order to fly with the Breakers to Portland ahead of Saturday’s game. She scored 42 goals in 69 appearances for the Crimson and was a Mac Hermann trophy semifinalist her senior year. Purce has also appeared with the U17, U20, and U23 USWNTs. She has appeared in every game so far this season for Boston, with three starts.

The NWSL has had a slew of college graduates this month, with Purce joining Rose Lavelle, Morgan Brian, and Raquel Rodriguez, among others. Other players such as Rachel Hill deferred signing with a team in order to finish the spring semester.

NIELSEN HEADS TO SOUTH KOREA

Former Seattle Reign defender Paige Nielsen has signed with South Korea club Suwon FMC. She recently had spells with Apollon Ladies in Cyprus, alongside Melissa Henderson, Molly Menchel, and Sam Witteman, and W-League side Western Sydney Wanderers, where she played with Kendell Fletcher, Katie Stengel, and Alex Arlitt.

Nielsen was drafted by Seattle in the third round of the 2016 NWSL draft. She made two appearances for the club, including a friendly against Arsenal Ladies, before being waived last July. Nielsen won an NCAA National Championship with North Carolina, where she played with a slew of future NWSL players, including Kealia Ohai, Amber Brooks, Meg Morris, Brooke Elby, Crystal Dunn, Katie Bowen, and Summer Green.

BOULLEAU RETURNS TO COMPETITION

France Women’s National Team defender Laure Boulleau played her first competitive game of soccer since injuring her right knee a year ago, forcing her to miss out on the 2016 Rio Olympics. Suited up for Paris Saint-Germain, her club home since 2005, Boulleau subbed in at the 58th minute for Perle Morroni as PSG fought their way back to claim a 2-2 draw with Bordeaux.

Boulleau has made regular appearances with France since her first cap in 2005, playing in two World Cups, one Olympics, and one European Championship. Head coach Olivier Echouafni has yet to name his final roster for the upcoming Euros. Boulleau could see game time again when PSG face league rivals Olympique Lyon on June 1 in Cardiff, Wales, for the UEFA Womens Champions League final.

CHELSEA LADIES MOVING TO NEW HOME

Crystal Dunn and Heather O'Reilly will have to wait for bragging rights after 2-2 draw in their first meeting in England. (photo: Chelsea Ladies)

Crystal Dunn will be playing on a new pitch with Chelsea this fall. (photo: Chelsea Ladies)

Chelsea Ladies FC, current club of Crystal Dunn, is moving to new grounds for the 2017-2018 season as the FAWSL moves to a winter format. The team currently plays its home matches at Wheatsheaf Park in Staines-upon-Thames, Middlesex, and will move to Kingsmeadow, home of men’s third tier side AFC Wimbledon in Kingston upon Thames, London. The team has one more home game left in the FAWSL Spring Series, hosting Liverpool on Sunday. They lost 0-1 to Manchester City today. Chelsea FC, their affiliated men’s side, plays their home matches at Stamford Bridge in Fulham, London

Chelsea won a double in 2015, securing both the FA Women’s Cup and the FAWSL title, but have been less successful in Champions League play, getting knocked out the Round of 32 last October by Wolfsburg.

WALSH NAMED TO CANADA HOF

Former Canadian captain Amy Walsh has been named to the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame. While playing at the University of Nebraska, the midfielder won the 1998 CONCACAF Championship. She played in both the 1999 and 2007 World Cups, as well as the 2008 Olympics. Walsh also helped the Atlanta Beat reach the 2001 WUSA Founders Cup, playing with Cindy Parlow, Sun Wen, Briana Scurry, and Homare Sawa. The Beat fell in penalty kicks to the Bay Area CyberRays, led by Brandi Chastain.

{Read more: USWNT Scandinavian Tour Roster Announced}

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