The Portland Thorns will be missing two of their stars for the next several weeks.
Rachel Van Hollebeke, who was injured in the 3rd minute of last week's USWNT's friendly against China will miss 3-4 weeks, Thorns head coach Paul Riley revealed yesterday and was reported in The Oregonian.
In her place, rookie Emily Menges will likely earn her second start of the season, with Nikki Marshall starting as the other center back or left back, depending on what formation Riley uses against Sky Blue FC this Saturday. Menges, who is currently enrolled a Georgetown University and will graduate next month, has not been training with the Thorns and will join the team in New Jersey this weekend.
Last week, the Thorns started four in the back, with left back Rebecca Moros pushing into a more attacking role, which allowed Allie Long the freedom to roam and create chances in the attack, where she scored the first and only goal of the match in the 24th minute.
Until Van Hollebeke returns, the Thorns will be reliant on a young back line that grew as last week's match wore on and will continue to grow this weekend, as well as goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who gave fans a glimpse of what she offers both in goal and distributing and playing Athe ball.
Morgan out indefinitely
Additionally, Alex Morgan continues to recover from her ankle injury, with no set time for her return.
The injury has plagued the Thorns and USWNT star since October. She has been rehabbing the injury in Houston and joined the Thorns this week. She will travel with the team this weekend, as reported in The Oregonian.
Without Morgan, the Thorns will rely heavily on their other star forward, Christine Sinclair, who co-led them in scoring (with Morgan) and newcomers Jessica McDonald, who started against Houston, Jackie Acevedo, and rookie Elisabeth Sullivan, as well as midfielder Meleana Shim, who made several starts last season at forward.
Only one match into the season, the Thorns will play it safe with both Van Hollebeke and Morgan and not rush them back until they are ready.