Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic will be leaving the Portland Thorns this year after a season and a half with the team. Crnogorcevic has been placed on the NWSL re-entry wire, according to the league’s website.
Crnogorcevic joined up with a Thorns team in the middle of a severe injury crisis in 2018 and she came over with a serious pedigree: the top scorer in the history of the Swiss national team and a long and productive career in the Frauen Bundesliga seemed to indicate that she was being brought to the club to solve the problem at striker after Caitlin Foord’s long-term injury in the offseason. On top of this she had a clause in her contract saying she could get out any time she wanted as long as it was to play for the Thorns.
However, the unique demands of playing the sole striker for the Thorns proved to be a poor match for her skill set. She would go on to find a way to carve out a responsibility as a defensively oriented player on the wing and had some excellent games there, memorably during the 2018 semifinal against Reign FC where she was able to attack the Reign in possession and keep them from building attacks. She continued to play an important role during the World Cup season this year but by the end of the season, with players returning and new talent emerging all over the club, Crnogorcevic regularly wasn’t making the starting XI or coming off the bench.
There’s no doubt she’s been a positive impact on the team culture during her time with the club. Every opportunity they’ve been given, her teammates have spoken highly of her hard work and dedication, on the field and off. The club seeking to maximize the use of their international spots was always going to require scrutiny of the use of resources there, and Crnogorcevic seemed like an unlikely candidate for green card eligibility. We don’t know where Crnogorcevic is headed next at this point, but she’s a proven player in the Frauen Bundesliga should she wish to return there.
Meanwhile, the Thorns also announced a series of extensions and re-signings that cover the rest of the team. Dagny Brynarsdottir and Andressinha, the other holders of the international spots, were extended and offered a new contract respectively as the club seeks to keep them on the books for the time being. Ellie Carpenter’s previously announced long-term contract was confirmed. Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso, both players who received green cards during last year’s offseason, were also retained. The only players around the club not explicitly offered extensions were players who were on national team replacement contracts during the year, Katy Byrne and Marissa Everett, and it’s entirely possible the club will seek to keep them around in other capacities (as they did Simone Charley last year). This isn’t to say that this is the end of the departures this offseason, simply that the club are going to try to retain the rest of their players for either the long term or to retain their value for upcoming trades. There’s certainly more news to come in the next few months.