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Thorns’ Nikki Marshall announces retirement

Nikki Marshall (center) has retired. (Photo Copyright Clark Linehan for The Equalizer)

Nikki Marshall (center) has retired. (Photo Copyright Clark Linehan for The Equalizer)

Portland Thorns FC defender Nikki Marshall announced her retirement from professional soccer on Monday.

Marshall played four seasons as a professional in two different leagues, including two with the Thorns. She started every match for Portland in 2013, en route to winning the inaugural NWSL title. Marshall contemplated retiring following that 2013 season, but came back after being convinced by Thorns coach Paul Riley. The Thorns waived her following that season as a salary move, but reacquired her after her rights went from Washington to Seattle and then back to Portland.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from a lifestyle that has given me so much,” said Marshall. “From the depth of me I would like to thank Thorns FC for the opportunity to be part of something so special. The organization, the city, and the supporters in the Rose City are second to none. I’m grateful to have been a part of this and I will miss it very much. It’s been a pleasure.”

Marshall, 26, appeared in 46 consecutive regular season matches for the Thorns. She tore her right ACL in the final regular season match of 2014.

“Nikki is one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met,” Riley said. “She is pure class. Her commitment, dedication and resolute personality make her a brilliant teammate, exceptional professional and a fan favorite.”

Marshall trained with the U.S. women’s national team during early parts of 2014. She played for the Washington Freedom in 2010 after being selected No. 11 overall in the WPS Draft. She played for magicJack in 2011, after the Freedom assumed that name. Marshall was a regular with the U-20 and U-23 U.S. women’s national teams, helping the U-20 side to a World Cup title in 2008.

“In your coaching career there are certain players that make a huge impact on you and Nikki will be one of those in my eyes,” Riley said. “She will go on to be a massive success in her life and I know she will never forget her time in Portland. We will miss her in the locker room, being our defensive general on the field and the never say die attitude that illuminated her entire career.”

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