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Thorns FC sign defender Jazmyne Avant

Portland Thorns FC signed defender Jazmyne Avant as a discovery player, the club announced on Wednesday.

Avant, 23, most recently played for coach Paul Riley’s New York Fury in the WPSL Elite League as well as several training camps with Riley’s WPS SuperGroup. She becomes the first NWSL player officially signed as a “discovery player”, although 18-year-old Australian international Caitlin Foord announced via Twitter earlier this week that she will play for Sky Blue FC.

Avant joins a Portland team loaded with attacking talent, but Thorns FC face questions in the back. It’s still unknown if defenders Tina Ellertson will play in 2013. She was picked up in the supplemental draft and could be one of the league’s top center backs. Just days before the supplemental draft she tweeted that she wasn’t playing in 2013, but The Equalizer’s Richard Farley reports that she could be persuaded into playing in 2013.

[More: To play or not to play? That is the question for some NWSL draftees]

So Thorns FC coach Cindy Parlow Cone naturally is excited to add defensive cover.

“She is an outstanding outside back with great skill and tremendous pace who loves to attack,” Parlow Cone said.

Avant was part of the US U-20 player pool in 2009. She appeared in 97 matches for the Florida Gators from 2008-11.

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