Also in today’s roundup, Lieke Martens named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year, Nils Nielsen steps down as Denmark’s coach, and U.S. U-17s defeat England, 6-1.
Thorns activate Savannah Jordan, waive Meghan Cox
The Portland Thorns announced today that they had removed first-year forward Savannah Jordan from the 45-day disabled list and placed her on the active roster. To make room on the roster, the Thorns waived defender Meghan Cox.
Jordan, 22, joined the Thorns late in the season after a brief stint in Scotland playing for Glasgow City FC in which she scored a hat trick in her debut. The rumors of her intention to play abroad saw the Florida star striker, a projected first-round pick, fall to the second round of the 2017 NWSL College Draft, when Mark Parsons traded up to select her with the No. 18 overall pick. After arriving in Portland, Jordan was placed on the DL as she continued recovering from a left foot stress fracture.
“Savannah is a very hard-working forward with the ability to create and score goals in many ways,” Thorns head coach Mark Parsons said at the time of Jordan’s signing. “We are excited to bring her to Portland and look forward to seeing Savannah’s development and impact in the Rose City.”
At Florida, Jordan enjoyed a storied collegiate career, and her 81 goals and 189 points in 94 appearances are second only to fellow Gator alumna Abby Wambach (96, 242) in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Florida record books. Jordan does lead Wambach in one category though: career shots, for which she holds the Florida record.
Cox, also 22, joined the Thorns as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Virginia and signed with the team on April 14. She saw two starts in nine appearances for the Thorns this season, logging 262 minutes for the club. She made her professional debut in Portland’s April 22 road match against the North Carolina Courage, and earned her first professional start the next weekend against Chicago. Cox will now be available to be claimed off the waiver wire.
Lieke Martens named UEFA’s Women’s Player of the Year
Netherlands star Lieke Martens was named UEFA’s Women’s Player of the Year for the 2016/2017 season. The award was bestowed upon the 24-year old FC Barcelona forward during the 2017/2018 Champions League group stage draw in Monaco.
The 24-year-old Dutch star won the award less than three weeks after leading the Netherlands to their first ever European Championship title in a performance that saw Martens take home Player of the Tournament honors. Besides helping the Dutch side win the EUROs on home soil, she also helped her former club, FC Rosengård, reach the Champions League quarterfinals.
“This is so amazing,” Martens said after accepting the award. “It’s a big honor. I’m really proud, but I couldn’t achieve this without my teammates. I’m speechless!”
Martens received 95 points in the poll to beat out fellow finalists Pernille Harder and Dzsenifer Marozsan for the award. Harder, who received 81, captained the Denmark side to their first ever EURO Final, where they ultimately fell to Martens and the Dutch, and helped VfL Wolfsburg win the Frauen-Bundesliga. Marozsan received only 47 points, possibly a result of Germany’s quarterfinal exit at the hands of Denmark during the EUROs. However, the German midfielder also helped Olympique Lyonnais win a treble earlier in the year.
The UEFA Player of the Year was voted on by the 16 EURO coaches, as well as the eight who coached teams to the Champions League quarterfinals. Twenty journalists specializing in women’s soccer and who were selected by the European Sports Media group also had votes in the poll.
Nils Nielsen steps down as Denmark head coach
The Dansk Boldspil-Union, the Danish football association, announced today that Denmark’s women’s national team head coach Nil Nielsen had officially stepped down from the position, effective immediately. No reason for Nielsen’s departure was given, although the DBU said it was a mutual decision.
Nielsen has coached the team since September 2013, when he took over following Kenneth Heiner-Møller’s departure. He most recently led the team to a second-place finish at this summer’s European Championship, marking the team’s first appearance in a Euro championship match.
“I am incredibly proud to have worked with the women’s team for the last four years. On top of a successful qualification and a great achievement at the European Championships, there has been good opportunity for moving even more on the development of women’s football in Denmark – not only in the national team, but overall. It calls for new eyes and powers,” Nielsen said in the DBU’s official statement.
Although it’s not surprising for a coach to step down at the end of a major tournament (Sweden’s Pia Sundhage and Scotland’s Anna Signeul state before EURO 2017 that the tournament would be their last coaching Sweden and Scotland, respectively), Nielsen’s departure is slightly more confusing considering Denmark’s finish as EURO runners-up and the Danes’ World Cup qualifiers later this year.
“I’m looking forward to a new challenge. I am open to the new projects that appear in the future – whether it is within the men’s or women’s football. I have to find exactly the project that can turn on the joy of me – I know that’s right,” Nielsen added.
Besides leading Denmark to an unprecedented European Championship final, Nielsen is also credited with creating a number of programs to help develop the women’s game in Denmark both on and off the pitch.
Denmark’s U-19 coach Sørren Randa-Boldt will temporarily replacing Nielsen until a permanent replacement can be found, while U-16 coach Danny Jung temporarily fills in as U-19 coach.
U.S. U-17s defeat England, 6-1, in first of two friendlies
The U.S. U-17 women’s national team won the first of two matches against England, 6-1, on Wednesday, August 23. All six goals were scored by different U.S. players: Mia Fishel, Ainsley Ahmadian, Makenna Morris, Lia Godfrey, Michela Agresti and Isabella D’Aquiella all found their way onto the score sheet to give the host nation the win.
Ahead of yesterday’s match, U-17 head coach Mark Carr had called in 24 players for the camp and pair of matches. Fourteen of those rostered for the camp were runners-up in June’s CFA International U-16 Women’s Football Tournament in China.
However, the team is currently without four players who have been instrumental for the team in the recent past: forward Jordan Caniff, midfielder Astrid Wheeler and defender Kate Wiesner are traveling with the U-19 team to China at the start of September, and defender Kennedy Wesley is out with an ankle injury.
The two teams will face off again on Saturday, August 26 at Providence Park with kickoff set for 10 p.m. ET. The match is open and free for the public.