Yesterday saw the Portland Thorns acquire a new defender in Casey Ramirez from Danish side Fortuna Hjørring. It was a solid pick up for the Thorns considering their defensive issues so far this season. That said, with the addition of Ramirez, a question of the Thorns' hard cap of 20 players came into question. With Ramirez and Tobin Heath on the roster, the Thorns are sitting at 21 players total... something that's not allowed in the NWSL's first season.
Interested in the NWSL's roster rules I reached out to the Portland Thorns front office to figure out what was going on and whether or not there was some wiggle room there for the Thorns. Bottom line, there's not.
First, the primary issue at hand: Tobin Heath. When I spoke to the Thorns FO about the roster they told me, unequivocally, that Heath had not been added to the roster officially yet. So, despite showing up on the unofficial roster on the site, the Thorns' current roster is at 20 players. Pressing for more information about what happens when she does join the squad yielded nothing substantial.
There was one variable, however, that could make the Thorns roster situation work: Becky Edwards. For those that don't know, Edwards was injured for the remainder of the season a little more than a week ago. As such, she's won't be part of the squad until the 2014 season. It's widely speculated that her long term injury could allow the Thorns to bring on an extra player, temporarily allowing the Thorns to carry 21 players for the remainder of the season. While that would be nice, it's simply not true.
According to NWSL player guidelines, the current roster rules do not allow for the Thorns to make such a move:
An injured player who is put on the disabled list for at least 45 days will be considered for roster relief using the following guidelines.
1. One (1) player on the disabled list - no replacement
2. Two (2) players on the disabled list - NWSL discretion on roster relief
3. Three (3) players on the disabled list - roster relief will be provided
The Thorns' FO wouldn't comment on whether Edwards would go on the disabled list or not, but from the looks of things it doesn't really seem like it would matter. Edwards would be the Thorns first and only player on the disabled list and, as such, would receive no roster relief.
I'm hesitant to jump to conclusions, but it really appears that the Thorns have no options available with regards to their current roster situation. They're at 20 players today and that's fine. However, when Heath does eventually join the Thorns something has to change.
What do you think about the Thorns' current roster dilemma?