We are approximately two months away from the start of the 2021 NWSL season which will kickoff beginning with the Challenge Cup on April 9, 2021.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the league announced that the Challenge Cup will take place in home markets.
Here are other key dates ahead of this upcoming season:
- Feb. 1: Players will report to camp
- April 9: 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup begins
- May 15: 2021 NWSL regular season begins
- October 30: Regular season concludes
- November 6: NWSL playoffs begin
- Nov. 20 or 21: NWSL championship
- December 16: Expansion draft (Angel City/Sacramento)
Ahead of this 2021 season, the Portland Thorns have made a few roster moves.
Arguably the biggest offseason move was trading for Crystal Dunn.
In October 2020, the franchise announced it had traded for the USWNT wing-back and 2015 NWSL Most Valuable Player in exchange for allocation money, an international roster spot for the 2021 season and Portland’s natural first-round pick in the 2022 NWSL College Draft.
"She has to be in the attacking areas for us," explained Parsons. "The way we played last year, we could fit her into three or four different positions whether it's midfield or front lines. We'll have to see how the team comes together. I think we're more evolved from last year but having her as often in the attacking third and between lines, being able to break behind lines, getting her able to face up on the ball is what Crystal Dunn's all about.”
Last week, Portland also re-signed a few key pieces to multiple-year contracts: defender Emily Menges and forward Simone Charley.
Menges, a veteran defender who the Thorns selected back in the 2014 NWSL Draft, is second all-time in club history in games played (117), games started (116), and minutes played (10,334) and is one of only two players to with more than 100 games played an 10,000 minutes logged with the club. She re-signed to Portland on a three-year contract.
“Emily continues to evolve as a center back, exhibiting consistent quality in possession and a commitment to shutting down every team we play,” said Parsons. “She is a caring person, exceptional teammate and selfless leader who has been key to our success and will play a critical role in our future.”
Charley has been with the Thorns since 2019 and appeared in 21 matches (13 starts), recorded two goals and three assists. In 2020, she recorded two goals and one assist in 10 matches played.
“Simone gives us a unique dimension in the final third with attacking qualities that provide a constant threat to the opposition,” said Parsons. “She has shown an incredible commitment to her own development and we are confident she can reach new heights in the coming years.”
The players have reported for training camp and the season is just a few months away!