Finally-finally-the day has come: The Portland Thorns preseason officially started at 9 a.m. Monday morning, when camp opened under the auspices of head coach Cindy Parlow Cone. The club released its preseason roster the same day.
It was an exciting day, to be sure (check this video the Thorns FC folks put together), with players getting to know each other, led by a spirited and seriously organized Parlow Cone. The energy wasn't tempered by the absence of the squad's allocated players, all of whom currently are playing in international tournaments with their national teams. Those players are due in camp March 19.
At this point the Thorns FC roster stands at 32 players. Team brass will have to cut that count to 25 by March 18, and then down to the NWSL maximum of 20 players by April 5.
While hopes and spirits were high-and they should be-it should be noted that the start of the preseason also highlighted some question marks.
Specifically: The Thorns may have 32 players on their roster, but only 13 of those are signed or allocated players. A number of "ifs" remain. Perhaps the biggest one: Veteran defender Tina Ellertson, who, at 5'9" and with a proven track record would be a welcome addition to the backline, tweeted in February that she would not be playing pro ball this year for family reasons. Apparently, the Thorns still feel like they can convince her, after picking her up in the Supplemental Draft, but nothing indicates that Ellertson is going to change her mind.
A few other notable draftees floating about in limbo: Twenty-two-year-old midfielder Amber Brooks would be an excellent pickup for the midfield, but the former UNC standout signed with Bayern Munich just before Portland picked her up in the NWSL draft, and she won't return until summer. Whether or not she plays for the Thorns then is still up in the air. Neither Brooks nor Ellertson have signed with the club (obviously). Other notable unsigned players on the roster include goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, defender Marian Dalmy (Supplemental Draft), and forward Michele Weissenhofer (Supplemental Draft).
The unsettled lineup has opened the door to 10 trialists, including former Portland State University goalkeeper Cris Lewis and Oregon State defender Courtney Wetzel.
The full roster (along with links to players' Twitter profiles, if they have them) can be found here.