Friday afternoon was an exciting day for the Portland Thorns FC and its fans across the city. While there is still a lot of work to be done with regards to building a club, Friday gave us the first hint at what we can expect out of the Portland Thorns FC heading into their inaugural season. Shortly after announcing the players, head coach Cindy Parlow Cone took to a conference call to answer questions about the players, future players and tactics heading into the 2013 season.
Here were her responses:
On if she thinks Thorns FC received the best seven players available through allocation
"I've very excited with the seven players that we have and, like I said, I do think it's a great foundation for us to build on. Is it time to hand the hardware over? No. We aren't planning on playing 7-v-11, so we need to fill in with some more players and hopefully build a championship team around this core of seven players."
On if there could've been an even better scenario for the allocation process
"Of course, we could've gotten more players from the U.S. We would've loved to have four or five from the U.S., Canada and Mexico but we were only allowed seven. The seven that we got is a tremendous foundation, I keep saying it over and over, but it is. It is a great backbone and core for us to build a championship team."
On the rivalry with Seattle
"I think regardless of which players are playing where, I think it's going to be a great rivalry with Seattle. Portland and Seattle have a great history especially with the Timbers and Sounders already established so we're hoping to build on that and continue the rivalry on the women's side."
On what she's going to look for while building the roster
"We have the draft coming up next week, so we'll be looking to get some of the top college players out of that draft. Also, we will be working hard in the next couple weeks to sign free agents to surround this core group. You can tell by the allocations the style of soccer I like to play and it will be very possession oriented with high pressure defensively so I'll look for players to fit into that style of play."
On if she was surprised when the decisions were made and allocations announced
"I don't know if I was surprised, but I was definitely excited. I couldn't be more excited about this group of allocated players. It's a great core and we're going to hopefully surround them with other tremendous players and hopefully be able to bring home the hardware to Portland."
On if she thinks Portland fans will quickly forget that Alex Morgan played for the Seattle Sounders Women in 2012
"I have no idea, but I know the Portland fans are great soccer fans and they're soccer smart and they have a great appreciation for great players. Alex Morgan is certainly that and more, so I think they'll be ecstatic and as excited as I am to have Alex Morgan playing in their home city."
On any previous relationships with the seven players allocated to Thorns FC on Friday
"I have played against Christine Sinclair and I coached Tobin Heath when she was in college (at the University of North Carolina). I also played against Karina LeBlanc in the WUSA and against Canada."
On what steps she'll take to help nurture the relationship between the Portland Timbers and Thorns FC to help build fan support
"I'll look to help with the Timbers and look to [the front office] to help build off of what the Timbers have already done [in terms of fan support]."
On the team's offensive capabilities and Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Rachel Buehler accounting for nearly one-third of all U.S. WNT assists during 2012
"I'm hoping that we are a very dynamic and productive team. I think we got great attacking players and we will look to play a possession style and that's why their assists are so high because they like to play possession and get in behind the defense; they like to dribble 1-v-1 and shoot, dribble 1-v-1 and pass, one-and-two touch it. We're going to be a dynamic team offensively and I think the Portland fans are really going to enjoy watching these young women play."
Additionally, Alex Morgan took part in a separate conference call with US Soccer.
On being allocated to Portland Thorns FC:
"I'm really excited to be considered part of the Portland Thorns organization and I'm happy to see where all of my other teammates were allocated. As part of the national team we're very excited to be part of this league, to grow the game of soccer in the U.S. and for me personally to continue my dream of playing in the U.S."
"I'm really excited to be here today, I'm really excited to get this started with the Portland Thorns, the Northwest is a great soccer area and I had firsthand experience with that last year. So continuing in the Northwest, I'm looking forward to putting that jersey on for the first time under Merritt Paulson and Cindy Parlow, and playing with some teammates that I've played with before and some new ones."
On excitement of NWSL starting:
"I look forward to starting this league off right and continuing this league in the coming years. I really thank U.S. Soccer for stepping forward, I appreciate their commitment to the league along with the Canadian and Mexican Federations. So I hope this league gets off to the right start and I'm very excited to be part of it, to stay in the U.S. and continue to grow the game here."
Obviously both recognize the need for hard work to be done on the league and club level. The good news is that while off the field success is not yet guaranteed, it at least looks as if on the field the Thorns will be a formiddable opponent.
What do you think about the Parlow Cone's and Morgan's reactions to the draft and their vision of the future for the team and league?