The Thorns have officially announced the signing of 17-year old full Australian international Ellie Carpenter. Carpenter will join the club when she turns 18 in April 28, after her participation in the AFC Asian Cup.
Merritt Paulson has been hinting at the signing for a while on Twitter, as Stumptown Footy has written.
Ellie Carpenter, a senior Matilda since the age of 15, has 13 caps at right back for her country and one goal. She has been on a tear for Canberra in her third season in the W-League, winning the club player of the year and the supporters’ player of the year awards after a string of impressive performances and her first two goals in the league. The NWSL will be a step up from the W-League, but Carpenter has the physical and technical skills to make the transition.
Carpenter joins Hayley Raso and Caitlin Foord as regular members of the Australian national team who are now Thorns (Ashleigh Sykes does not accept callups). They have 97 caps between them and none are older than 23. As Foord is the starting right winger and Carpenter the starting right back, (with Raso subbing in for either) the entire right side of the Australian national team now plays in Portland.
Many Australian youngsters spent time at fullback before proving themselves fully as attacking players: Caitlin Foord played right back at the 2011 World Cup, and Hayley Raso’s recent call-ups have mainly been in the same position. Carpenter, however, appears to be committed to defense, as her appearances at central defense in the W-League show. She is expected to be the Matildas right back for the next decade.
If Foord’s recent injury rules her out of the coming NWSL season, which seems a distinct possibility, then the club has enough international spots to cover all of its players, but a timeline for Foord’s recovery has yet to be announced.
Carpenter is following a now-well-worn path from Canberra to Portland, with Ashleigh Sykes coming over when Hayley Raso and Celeste Boureille played there in the 2016 offseason.