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Thorns Players Up for International Honors

Nadia Nadim and Lindsey Horan get some well-deserved recognition.

Canada v United States Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

It’s a big week for Portland players and individual awards. On the back of Diego Valeri winning MLS MVP, Nadia Nadim just won the Dane of the year award and Lindsey Horan has been nominated for US Soccer Female Player of the Year.

Lindsey Horan is one of five nominees for the US Soccer Female Player of the Year, along with Julie Ertz, Megan Rapinoe, Sam Mewis, and Alex Morgan. Horan had a leading role for club and country, being one of the few to play consistently for the USWNT over the course of the year, and looking dangerous with her passing range and ability to win the ball anywhere on the pitch.

Horan won the US Young Player of the Year in 2013 as a very different player, but her striker’s sense of timing hasn’t left her even as she becomes one of the world’s best midfielders. During a first half of the season, when the Thorns were facing serious disruption from injuries and international absences and in indifferent form, Horan was the player who was capable of grabbing her team by the scruff of the neck and forcing them to get positive results. Her two goals away to Boston sum up her contributions well: a header from almost outside the box, and a determined run from midfield to get in front of her marker. Her beautiful free kick goal in stoppage time away to Houston was a big moment in turning the Thorns’ midseason slump into their late season renaissance.

Of course, she also laid a perfect pass on for Hayley Raso’s goal in the semifinal against Chicago, and scored the winning goal in the NWSL final. On the balance of her club contributions, she could easily win the award, but Julie Ertz had such a good national team season, and Megan Rapinoe looks resurgent, so the award is genuinely competitive.

Nadia Nadim was awarded Dane of the year by Danish newspaper Berlingske. The panel of voters noted that Nadim, who came to Denmark as a refugee and is now in medical school on top of her soccer career, “is a symbol that it is possible to achieve the highest goals” despite difficult circumstances. “Denmark needs her more than she [needs] us,” writes journalist Torben Storno. The paper also highlighted Nadim’s part in growing the popularity of the women’s game, as she helped take Denmark to a second-place finish in the women’s Euro this summer—including scoring a goal in a quarterfinal win against perennial European champions Germany.

Denmark, like the rest of Europe, is embroiled in controversy over the refugee crisis, with one right-wing politician criticizing Nadim’s nomination for the award. She had a typically Nadim-ish response: "I just want to say: In your face.”

On the field in Portland, although her goalscoring form wasn’t as stellar as it was in her first season, her overall contributions to the team improved. She was one of the hardest tackling forwards in the league, and held up the ball well in Tobin Heath’s nearly season-long absence. In her own words, she was “ice cold” at penalties, missing only one as the Thorns’ primary penalty taker.

Besides her prodigious football ability, Nadia is genuinely an incredible person with an inspiring story, and it was a joy to be able to watch her play and have her be a part of our city for two years. We wish her all the best (and for her to get a proper paycheck) at Manchester City.