Portland Thorns FC: Sooo, where are the USWNT players?

Martin Rose

Preseason continues, sans Morgan and Buehler; roster cut to 25

Thorns preseason camp kicked off its second week on Monday, with nary a national team member in sight. Mexican allocated player Marlene Sandoval is expected to begin training on Tuesday, with Canadians Christine Sinclair and Karina LeBlanc in on Thursday. No sign of Alex Morgan (who, according to her Twitter feed, is in New York City) or Rachel Buehler.

It's unconfirmed-but-common-knowledge that the delay in the U.S. contingent's arrival --not just for the Thorns, but for all eight of the NWSL teams-- is due to the current contract squabbles between the USWNT Players Association and U.S. Soccer. The U.S. players' collective bargaining agreement expired in January, and the Players Association and U.S. Soccer haven't been able to reach a mutual consensus on a new one. For the purposes of international friendlies and tournaments (like the recently completed Algarve Cup, from which the U.S. emerged victorious), the USWNT has been playing by default under the old agreement, which is a temporary fix.

That fix might work OK for the national team itself, but it's preventing NWSL contracts from being signed between teams and their allocated USWNT players. Each NWSL contract for allocated players has both a national team and NWSL team part to it. Without one, you can't really put together the other (there's a good article about this on Equalizer soccer).

I say "unconfirmed-but-common-knowledge" because I can't get anyone to deny that the CBA situation is behind the lack of U.S. players, although they certainly aren't confirming it. I have put the question of "Is the CBA disagreement the reason U.S. players aren't in camp yet" to a number of sources, with both the Thorns and with U.S. Soccer, and have been pretty much stonewalled. No one will say "yes," but no one will say "no." A quick look around the internet will prove that seems to be par for the course for most media.

U.S. Soccer reps did tell me Monday afternoon that they might have some information "shortly." I never heard back. I'll be pestering them again Tuesday. A pre-inaugural-season labor dispute would be embarrassing, yes, but at a certain point, dudes, just come clean. We can all handle it.

In the meantime, other preseason business continued as usual. Monday was the deadline for cutting the roster down to 25, and the following players --all trialists-- were cut:

Carlie Davis (D); Kate Howarth (F); Jennifer LaPonte (D); and Furtuna Velaj (F).
This leaves Portland State's Cris Lewis (GK); Stanford's Emilee O'Neil (M/D); Central Florida's Aline Reis (GK); Santa Clara's Meleana Shim (M); and Oregon State's Courtney Wetzel (DM) as the trialists left.
The team must trim its roster to the league maximum 20 players by April 5.

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