Defender Kendall Johnson was the lone Portland Thorns player listed on the NWSL re-entry wire today, ending her Thorns tenure after an intermittent string of appearances over the past three seasons.
Over the last two of those seasons, Johnson struggled with match fitness, after suffering a serious concussion during her loan to Western Sydney in the 2015-2016 NWSL off-season. Johnson wrote about her injury detailing its severity, and her post-concussion symptoms appear to have been largely responsible for keeping her off the pitch in 2016 and may have continued to limit her playing time in 2017.
The Thorns organization has not yet added to the information released by the NWSL, so it is difficult to determine whether her release was part of a mutual parting-of-ways or whether Johnson had hoped to continue her progress in returning to the field but was not part of the club’s future plans.
Johnson, a Portland native, played here for her scholastic career, first for Lincoln High School and then for the Portland Pilots. During her college career, she also appeared for both the U.S. U-20 and U-23 national teams. Sky Blue signed her after graduation in 2013, and she appeared in 37 matches for the New Jersey club before being traded to Portland during the 2015 NCAA draft.
Johnson spent much of her career as a Thorn coming off the bench or as a spot defensive starter. Her longest sustained appearance consisted of a six-week stint in the starting XI between May 30 and July 11, 2015. From April 2016 to October 2017, however, her official record shows her on-field for a total of only 10 minutes over four matches.
Johnson joins another ex-Thorn, McKenzie Berryhill, on the waiver wire.
Berryhill, released by Orlando, was included in the group that also contains Jocelyn Blankenship and Jordan O’Brien released by the Pride; Kelly Conheeney, released by the Houston Dash; Line Sigvardsen Jensen, released by the Washington Spirit; Natasha Kai, released by Sky Blue FC; and Stephanie Ochs, released by the North Carolina Courage.