Portland Thorns

Portland Thorns, head coach Mark Parsons agree to multi-year extension

Portland Thorns, head coach Mark Parsons agree to multi-year extension

The third-winningest coach in NWSL history is staying in the Rose City. 

According to the Portland Thorns, the club has signed head coach Mark Parsons to a multi-year contract extension. 

“Mark has done a fantastic job, and this extension is a well-deserved recognition of his results and potential,” Thorns FC owner Merritt Paulson said in a statement. “We are excited and proud to have Mark here long term and look forward to seeing his continued development as a top soccer manager.”

In his four seasons with Portland, Parsons has overcome many feats. He was named NWSL Coach of the Year in 2016 in credit to the Thorns 12-3-5 record, including an 8-1-1 mark at home. His team claimed the 2016 NWSL Shield, finishing top of the league in the regular season. 

In 2017, Parsons and the Thorns hoisted the NWSL Championship trophy after a physical match against the Courage at Orlando City Stadium. The following year, Portland made its second back-to-back appearance in the NWSL Championship. This time, the Thorns lost 3-0 to the Courage. Thorns FC made their fourth-consecutive playoff appearance and their sixth appearance in seven seasons in 2019. 

“I am humbled for the opportunity to commit long term to this incredible club, and I am very grateful to Merritt and Gavin for their trust and commitment,” Parsons told Richard Farley of Timbers.com. “It’s an honor to work alongside such talented staff and an ambitious group of players who relentlessly chase improvement each day. My family is proud to call Portland our home and be in such a special community with the best fans and atmosphere in women’s sport.”

At 33, Parson's time in Portland has just begun, and Thorns FC believe he's not only the coach of now, but of the future as well. 

Portland Thorns draw seventh seed in 2020 Utah Challenge Cup

Portland Thorns draw seventh seed in 2020 Utah Challenge Cup

As the sports world begins to safely open up and resume play, the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup is on the horizon.

This 25-game tournament will kick off on June 27, 2020 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. 

According to the NWSL, the format of the tournament will feature the league’s nine clubs each playing four games in the preliminary rounds to determine seeding. The top eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals, when the tournament becomes a knockout competition. The semifinals and Final presented by Budweiser will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, with the Championship match slated for July 26, 2020 where they will also announce the tournament MVP Award presented by Budweiser.

No spectators will be allowed at the event.

The Portland Thorns have drawn the No. 7 seed in this nine-team tournament.

- June 27: Portland Thorns vs. North Carolina Courage

- July 1: Portland Thorns vs. Orlando Pride

- July 8: Portland Thorns vs. Washington Spirit

- July 12: Portland Thorns vs. OL Reign

Watch the selection below:

https://www.cbssports.com/live/the-portland-thorns-fc-secure-the-7-slot-in-the-nwsl-challenge-cup/3301295/

“As our country begins to safely reopen and adjust to our collective new reality, and with the enthusiastic support of our players, owners, as well as our new and current commercial partners, the NWSL is thrilled to bring professional soccer back to the United States,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird. “This exciting month-long tournament will showcase our league’s talented players and provide our fans the type of world-class entertainment they’ve come to expect from the NWSL.”

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

NWSL to allow small group training, full team training next phase

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Portland Thorns

NWSL to allow small group training, full team training next phase

The National Women’s Soccer League announced Monday that all clubs may advance to Phase Two.

So, what does that mean?

In short, small group training of eight players or less is permissible under guidelines outlined by the NWSL Medical Task Force (MTF) in the league’s “Return to Play Phased Protocol”, which is subject to state and local governmental requirements.

Furthermore, prior to entering a facility, all players must complete a Pre-Training Assessment (PTA) and have a daily symptom and temperature screening.

Clubs will be permitted to use weight rooms, training rooms and meeting rooms.

Additionally, essential staff authorized in Phase 2 include coaches, athletic trainers, sports scientists, team physicians and equipment managers. All players and staff members are required to take both an Antigen polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and an Antibody (IgG) test prior to being present at any group trainings.

Players will be required to arrive in their training gear and wear masks when arriving and departing the facility. Shared water bottles will not be permitted.

A thorough cleaning will be completed after each groups’ use of the facilities.

"Following the advice and counsel of our medical advisors, the NWSL is pleased to be taking the next steps to safely return to competition," said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird.

The next hurdle will come on May 30th when teams may progress to Phase Three. 

Full Team Training will be allowed in Phase Three provided that five days of Small Group Training have been completed and that teams remain in compliance with state, local and NWSL mandates. 

Here are the guidelines that apply:

  • All activity must follow state and local government and health agency mandates
  • Each team must have approval from their medical staff to advance to the next phase
  • Teams must limit staff to the essential personnel necessary to conduct each phase of training and competition
  • Players will undergo a daily symptom screening prior to entering team facilities
  • Players who are fulfilling self-quarantine for any reason are not permitted to train with other individuals or at team facilities
  • Players, coaches and staff who are sick or have close contact with individuals who are sick must inform the team’s Certified Athletic Trainer, stay home, and not participate in training
  • All individuals should practice good hand hygiene, and avoid touching their face, nose and eyes with their hands as much as possible
  • All facilities and rooms used are subject to NWSL Standards for Cleaning, Disinfection, and Sanitation
  • All facility staff, housekeeping and grounds crew will be scheduled to avoid contact with players and essential staff

This is a step in the right direction with hopes that teams can get back to some semblance of normalcy. 

Portland Thorns unveil new primary, secondary kits for 2020

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Portland Thorns

Portland Thorns unveil new primary, secondary kits for 2020

The Portland Thorns had long been teasing fans with a new kit reveal, and on Wednesday they finally let the kit out of the bag.

Going into the 2020-21 season, the Thorns will be wearing what is arguably the nicest fit in soccer.

The Thorns' primary Black jersey has been nicknamed "Dark Rose" and is the first black jersey in club history. The all-white secondary, or "Untamed Thorn" features a thorn design the wraps around the entire kit. 

Both sets also feature "B.A.O.N." on the inside of the neck, a reference to, "By Any Other Name," a phase the supporters have come to honor and use as a call to arms. 

We are really excited about these new kits... With each jersey, it’s an opportunity to expand our club’s visual language and these designs are a bold and compelling evolution of our iconography. I think our athletes and supporters will love them. Alex Kocher, creative director for Thorns FC

PHOTOS: "Dark Rose" primary kit and the "Untamed Thorns" secondary kit

The Thorns sent of the new kits to all their players and their reactions are priceless.

Pre-orders for the new kits are already live. You can place an order at shopthornsfc.com.

Be sure to check out the full list of NBC Sports Northwest Podcasts for all the latest news and interviews with your favorite teams. 

Portland Thorns to return to individual workouts on Monday, May 11

Portland Thorns to return to individual workouts on Monday, May 11

Just like last week, the Portland Thorns will continue individual, voluntary workouts this week at Providence Park starting on Monday, May 11.

Players will have access to locker rooms, team gyms and team training rooms. Team gyms and training rooms may still only be accessed by players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the club’s Chief Medical Officer.

Thorns FC have been in dialogue with county and state health officials and have shared their return to training plan with them and the NWSL, which includes:

- Restricting training facility access to essential staff only, with specific staff listed in the plan

- Sanitization and disinfection plans for all training equipment and spaces, including disinfection of any equipment used by players (balls, cones, goals) between every session.

- Completion of a Standard Screening Assessment survey by each player prior to every arrival at the training site, and temperature checks upon arrival at the facility.

- Staggered player and staff arrivals and departures, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.

- Player use of personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the field, and again on return to the parking lot.

- Staff use of the appropriate personal protective equipment throughout training, while also maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet from players at all times.

- Hand washing and disinfectant stations for required use before and after individual workouts.

- Clubs will have the use of the outdoor fields at their training facility, divided into a maximum of four quadrants per field. A maximum of one player per quadrant may participate per training session with no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players.  

- An Emergency Action Plan for all COVID-19 related issues.

Be sure to check out Oregon Govenor Kate Brown's latest COVID-19 updates and what it means for local sports.

Meghan Klingenberg hopes the NWSL can seize opportunity ahead

Meghan Klingenberg hopes the NWSL can seize opportunity ahead

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, sports all over the nation have been cancelled to ensure the safety of the players and fans, who are complying with stay-at-home orders.

As a result, no sports are being played at the moment which presents an opportunity for whoever can resume playing the fastest.

In the latest episode of Talkin' Blazers with Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon, USWNT and Portland Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg thinks that the NWSL should be that league, if safe for the players.

It's like the biggest opportunity but also the biggest problem, right?...How do we take advantage of this time, in like a really positive way? It just feels like there's a really limited path forward and I don't know how to make that path work without more resources. - Meghan Klingenberg

She's correct.

If the National Women's Soccer League could get up and running sooner than other sporting leagues and the games got broadcast, more people than ever would pay attention. Combining the absence of any competitors and the popularity of United States Women's National Team players would get a record number of viewers to give the NSWL a shot when they hadn't in the past. 

Then, once they try watching the games the viewers would realize that the women's games are high quality and worth paying attention to, and even appreciate the differences between the games.

I think, you know, the [men's and women's soccer] games are extremely similar in a lot of ways but they're also really different. And I think those differences are what I really love about the women's game. - Meghan Klingenberg

One obstacle, however, could be the new TV deal that the NSWL signed in March 2020 with CBS before suspending its season. Under the agreement, CBS will broadcast the league opener and NSWL championship, while CBS Sports Network would broadcast another 14 games with 71 more games airing on CBS All Access: CBS' streaming platform that charges minimum $5.99 per month to subscribe to. The NSWL also planned to stream 24 matches on Twitch. 

Under this agreement, many games may be hidden behind a paywall which would limit the audience for the league. However, if CBS would agree to air more games on their main network available to any household with an antenna, the popularity of the NSWL could explode.  

There wouldn't be a reason for CBS to not air them on its main channel anyways. The network could shift around some program scheduling to make way for the nation's only live sporting event if this plan goes underway. 

Additionally, American soccer leagues appear to be moving faster ahead than other professional sports leagues, with the MLS announcing that individual player workouts will resume beginning May 6th. Could the NWSL be far behind?

Listen to the full Talkin' Blazers Podcast here!

Ann Schatz has all the respect in the world for Portland's soccer fandom

Ann Schatz has all the respect in the world for Portland's soccer fandom

Few have had the illustrious career of sports broadcasting legend Ann Schatz who not only was the first woman in sports broadcasting in Portland but even got an exclusive interview bite with Tonya Harding at the height of her scandal. Now, Schatz works for the Pac-12 Network and Portland Thorns. 

On the latest episode of The Bridge Podcast, host Justin Myers was joined by the Portland Thorns broadcaster who talked about what makes the Portland market so special compared to other parts of the country.

What a tip of the cap to the city of Portland that understands great soccer. And it is nongender specific: If you can play we are going to come watch you, we're going to cheer like the dickens and we're going to keep coming back. And that's this town. And that's why I love this city so much for what it has done. It's come one come all. If you can play, we're going to come. 

Schatz went on to say that due to the knowledge of Portland, commonly referred to as Soccer City, USA, they were able to fall in love with the Thorns in their inaugural season because of the stellar skill displayed by Canadian National Team forward Christine Sinclair. 

The Portland Thorns, when they began playing in the NWSL back in 2013, and the US Soccer Federation allocated certain soccer players to each team, the Portland Thorns got some terrific allocations and it started with Christine Sinclair: Canada's finest and had starred at the University of Portland and that carryover... being the captain [of the Thorns] and the face, along with Alex Morgan... [Sinclair] brought in the soccer purists and Morgan brought in those that were curious about this league... It was a perfect storm...

It probably helps that the Thorns won the Inaugural NWSL Championship in 2013 and then again in 2017. That type of play has kept the Thorns' fanbase highly engaged in the product, and that support greatly moves the longtime broadcaster who had to deal with a lot of hatred in Portland when she began her career here. 

When you go to home games and there are 16-17,000 people at a match to watch a women's game? It still blows me away. I get the chills. Sometimes it makes me cry. I am so grateful to say that I lived to be working in a franchise in a city that attracts over 15,000 per home game for a women's event. I never thought I would see that day. It is something. 

You can listen to the full podcast below.

Thorns add elite talent with addition of two-time World Cup winner Becky Sauerbrunn

Thorns add elite talent with addition of two-time World Cup winner Becky Sauerbrunn

When the Portland Thorns drafted forwards Sophia Smith and Morgan Weaver, as well as defender Meaghan Nally, in the NWSL Draft in January, the team’s future already looked bright. 

Now, a long-rumored deal for Becky Sauerbrunn has come to fruition, bringing tremendous leadership and experience to the Rose City. 

The Thorns announced Tuesday the acquisition of Sauebrunn, a two-time World Cup winner, via a trade with the Utah Royals. The Royals received defender Elizabeth Ball and $100,000 in allocation money as well as future compensation considerations in the deal. 

Sauerbrunn’s lived in Portland over the past five years despite playing for the Royals and now defunct Kansas City FC, now she gets to return home for good. 

“As a player, I’ve lived my life in two parts, where my life with my team has been away from where I (otherwise) lived,” Sauerbrunn said in a statement via the team. “Going to Portland at this point in my career, having lived there for five years, that changes. This move allows me to play at home.”

Sauerbrunn’s career began with Kansas City, where she won two NWSL championships in 2014 and 2015. She’s a four-time NWSL Defender of the Year, two-time league champion, Olympic gold medalist, and seven-time all-NWSL defender. 

Sauerbrunn shared a message for Thorns fans in a post on Twitter:  

“I’ve fallen so much in love with the city of Portland and I can’t wait to represent all that is good about it and playing in front of you will be such an honor,” Sauerbrunn said in a video on the Thorns’ Twitter account. 

Welcome home, Becky. 

Portland Thorns star Lindsey Horan kicks in a basket before Nuggets game

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USA Today Images

Portland Thorns star Lindsey Horan kicks in a basket before Nuggets game

When she shoots, she scores, no matter what court or field Lindsey Horan is on.

The USWNT midfielder and Portland Thorns star recently took her soccer talents to the hardwood at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Before the Nuggets tipped off against the Los Angeles Lakers, Horan wanted to get in the first shot of the game. This shot, however, was different than those who have come before her.

Horan kicked in a basket from the free throw line, drawing the applause from the Nuggets crowd.

“After last time I did the first shot, @nuggets said I could only come back if I didn’t use my hands,” Horan said in a tweet containing the video.

Horan makes this look too easy. Here's another look at the jaw-dropping moment:  

If the Nuggets need another shooter, count on Horan to deliver some trick shot magic.

Portland Thorns star Lindsey Horan helps lead USWNT to Olympic qualifying win

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USA Today Images

Portland Thorns star Lindsey Horan helps lead USWNT to Olympic qualifying win

The U.S. Women’s National Team national team are Concacaf champions again! 

With a 3-0 victory over Canada at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, the USWNT secured its fifth Olympic qualifying title.

Second half goals from Lynn Williams, Lindsey Horan and Megan Rapinoe helped extend the United States’ undefeated streak to 28 goals. The USWNT has not conceded a goal in five qualifying matches.

Horan, a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, gave the U.S. a second goal in the 48th minute when she dribbled through two defenders and found the back of the net. Horan scored six goals total to finish second in scoring in the tournament.

Horan ran to her Thorns teammate, Tobin Health, to celebrate the moment. These two are the definition of friend goals. 

Up next, the USA will host England, Spain and Japan for the 2020 SheBelieves Cup from March 5-11.