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Recap: Thorns take Three in the Dispersal Draft

More forwards, yes, but also a defensive midfielder.

SOCCER: MAY 19 NWSL - Portland Thorns FC at Boston Breakers Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The dispersal draft is over, and nearly all Boston Breakers players have been selected and can potentially remain employed should their new clubs decide to retain them. The Portland Thorns took three players from the draft: Margaret Purce with the fourth pick, Angela Salem with the 15th pick and Ifeoma Onumonu with the 22nd.

Margaret Purce (or Midge, as she’s known) is a young forward who was drafted ninth overall in the 2017 NWSL college draft out of Harvard. She scored 42 goals in 69 appearances for the Crimson, was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year in 2013 and 2016 and an All-Ivy League selection all four years. Purce scored just one goal for Boston in her first season, but it was a match winner and a good shot from outside the area.

A regular for the US youth national teams since joining the U-17 side at age 14, Purce is currently on the U-23 national side and earned a callup to the full USWNT for the 2017 Tournament of Nations, although she only made the bench for the match against Japan and played no minutes. Its telling that even while she was struggling for production in Boston, Purce was considered for a spot in the national team camp: no one doubts her potential to reach the highest levels of the game.

Angela Salem is a veteran defensive midfielder, appearing 105 times in the 5 years of the NWSL’s existence. She started her career in the WPS at Sky Blue, and eventually ended up at the Western New York Flash, who she stayed with when they joined the NWSL. She played alongside Adrianna Franch for the Flash in their 2013 final loss against Portland. After two seasons there, Salem was traded to the Washington Spirit in 2015 under Mark Parsons alongside Hayley Raso and Katherine Reynolds. Reynolds would go on to ask Salem to be her bridesmaid last year after Portland played away at Boston. Defensive midfield was a serious question mark for the team after losing Amandine Henry last season, and in Salem the Thorns were fortunate to get someone so experienced in that position.

Salem also does recruiting for Springfield College. She’s a student of the game, will add a lot to the culture of the team, and could end up staying in Portland well beyond her playing career.

Finally, at spot 22 the Thorns took another rookie forward in Ifeoma Onumonu. Onumonu was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NWSL draft out of UC Berkeley, where she played with Celeste Boureille. She earned All-Pac 12 honors both her freshman and senior years at Berkeley, playing 82 matches, scoring 33 goals and providing 17 assists. She’s also a current member of the U-23 USWNT. She made 18 appearances for Boston in her one year, many from the bench late in matches, and earned one assist on the season. Onumonu did not have a significant impact at Boston but has all the physical attributes to compete in the league, and is potentially a candidate for conversion to fullback.

The Thorns certainly have the money to accommodate these three salary cap-exempt players, but the picks raise questions about how many forwards the club really needs. Tyler Lussi and Mallory Weber were not expected to be starters even before the new additions. Will they remain at the club? The team also has yet to address its depth questions at center back. The trades are almost certainly not finished, but preseason is starting very soon, and the club will want to conduct any remaining business quickly.