Thorns FC Defender Marian Dougherty Retires

Dougherty (right) scored the Thorns first-ever goal from run of play. - Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Announcement comes as Merritt Paulson says more roster moves imminent.

An integral piece of the Thorns' 2013 NWSL Championship-winning team will not be returning next season, as starting defender Marian Dougherty announced her retirement today.

Dougherty had a very solid season for the Thorns last year, which she kicked off by scoring the first-ever official Thorns FC home goal (and the team's first ever from the run of play), a header off a set piece kick from Nikki Washington during the 2-1 win over Seattle on April 21.

According to a tweet from Merritt Paulson, Dougherty will be moving on to a position at Nike.

While not unexpected, Dougherty's retirement leaves the Thorns missing two defenders from a backline that held opposing teams to 22 goals last year, including a 2-0 shutout win over the Western New York Flash in the NWSL final on August 31 (fellow defender Nikki Marshall was released on waivers early in the offseason).

Paulson also tweeted on Tuesday that more roster moves will be announced on Wednesday.

For what it's worth, I didn't have all that many interactions with Dougherty, but from everything I saw, she was a class act and a delight in addition to being an excellent player a huge contributor to the team. Bummer she's gone.

Full Thorns front office statement below:

THORNS FC DEFENDER MARIAN DOUGHERTY ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland Thorns FC defender Marian Dougherty today announced her retirement from professional soccer. Dougherty retires after helping lead Thorns FC to the inaugural National Women's Soccer League championship during the 2013 season.

Dougherty, 29, was one of the team's most reliable defenders, playing 19 of 22 regular-season matches and every minute in the NWSL Playoffs. She recorded one goal and one assist during the team's first season, scoring the first-ever goal for Thorns FC at JELD-WEN Field in a 2-1 win over Seattle Reign FC on April 21, 2013.

"It was a hard decision and it's going to be a change for me, but also a challenge that I look forward to in the future. Everything in my life, I owe to the game of soccer. It has brought me remarkable moments, memories and friendships. One of the best moments of my career has been to play in this city with such an amazing team and organization," said Dougherty.

"I want to thank the fans for all of your support and everyone in the Thorns and Timbers organization that work behind the scenes to keep everything running. I also want to thank Merritt Paulson and Gavin Wilkinson for giving me the opportunity to play for such an amazing organization as well as my family and husband for their constant support. Finally, I want to thank all my teammates, both on the Thorns and previous teams in my career, for making me a better player and person. The friendships and memories you've provided are the greatest gifts I will take with me."

The Lakewood, Colo., native played four professional seasons, spending three years in Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) from 2009-11 with the Chicago Red Stars (2009, 2010) and magicJack (2011) before joining Thorns FC as the club's fourth-round pick in the NWSL Supplemental Draft on Feb. 7, 2013.

"Marian was a core member of our team and integral to bringing the NWSL championship to Portland in our first year," said head coach Cindy Parlow Cone. "I know that retiring from a sport you love is difficult and wish her every success."

At the international level, Dougherty made 11 career appearances for the U.S. Women's National Team from 2007-10, including earning two caps during the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in the United States.

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