It is fascinating to ponder. With seven players allocated and four more players drafted from the college super draft last week, the Portland Thorns now have 11 players on their roster.
Up Front at the forward positions, Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair, and Nicolette Radovcic are the logical choices. It goes without saying that Portland will have a potent attack capable of scoring goals aplenty.
Midfield is shaping up to have an all "Tarheel" flavor with three players who played their college soccer at North Carolina. With Tobin Heath, Amber Brooks and possibly Allie Long (if she joins the roster as rumored). Tobin Heath arrived in France yesterday and will play for PSG in the French league. Amber Brooks is presently in Germany and plays for Bayern Munich of the womens league. I think that Allie Long will assume the critical load in the middle until such time as Heath and Brooks can join the Thorns in June. It is worthy to note that all three players are versatile enough to play multiple positions in the midfield. Once Portland starts contracting free agents in the near future to round out their squad, I would assume that additional Midfielders would be added to the group to strengthen that position for the near term.
While the main talk out of the gate is focused on Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair and how they both could potentially be a force to be reckoned with up front, in my opinion the back four defenders present a potentially solid line for opposing teams to break down. Rachel Buehler Nicknamed the "Buehlerdozer" normally plays with an aggressive style. Both Marlene Sandoval and Luz Saucedo are mainstays for the Mexican National Team. The recent selection of Kathryn Williamson in the super draft last week adds another powerful middle player that can start right now. Portland was delighted to get her at number eight in the first round.
The last two players are Karina LeBlanc, who manned the goal for team Canada in the Olympics and Roxanne Barker who represented South Africa in the 2012 Summer Olympics and completed her college career at Pepperdine. She ranked first all time in goals against (0.77) and second all time in shutouts (24), Second in wins (35)and save percentage (.825).
With this core group Portland has a solid foundation to build upon and it is my belief that they should rank as the early favorites to win the league cup., The 4-3-3 configuration utilizes the strengths of this unit as it stands now. With the addition of more players, perhaps the reasoning behind running such a traditional alignment might change, but for the moment it makes the most sense for the number of players contracted.