After hints about a huge trade for Portland circulated Twitter earlier in the week — rumored to include Emily Sonnett and Midge Purce — things are finally starting to fall into place for the Thorns. As announced this morning, the club has traded Sonnett, the rights to Caitlin Foord, and the seventh and 14th picks in the upcoming NWSL College Draft. In exchange, Portland received the first overall pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft, set to take place next Thursday.
After coming in as the first overall pick out of college in 2016, Sonnett was a huge player in her time in Portland, a regular starter who notably led the Thorns defense to a league-best 19 goals allowed in her rookie season. Starting all but one of her 72 matches for Portland, Sonnett has also recorded six goals for the Thorns — two of which game during postseason. Although her confidence, skill on the ball, and communication have been major assets in her four years with the club, it seemed as if she was on the way out when expansion was hinted at ahead of the 2020 season.
A star on the Australian national team, there were high expectations on Foord when she came to the Thorns. Struggling through injury in her first year with Portland, she didn’t make her debut until August 2018 and didn’t tally a goal for the club until the opening match of the 2019 season. Foord went on to score three goals for the Thorns, but fell out of the starting lineup in favor of Midge Purce as the year progressed.
“We are grateful for Emily and Caitlin’s contributions during their time with the club and we wish them the best as they continue forward in their professional careers,” said coach Mark Parsons in the club’s press release.
Thorns general manager Gavin Wilkinson spoke the value of the trade with Orlando ahead of the 2020 season, pronouncing the club’s goal of returning to the NWSL Final. “Acquiring the first pick in the draft was essential for us,” he said, “and we believe the player we select will not only help in the short term, but will be someone that will grow with the club and become a fixture in this team for years to come.”
While the player the Thorns are targeting with that pick is not yet set in stone, The Equalizer’s Dan Lauletta and John Halloran of The Equalizer and American Soccer Now are hinting that rising Stanford junior Sophia Smith has the intention to declare for the draft.
Smith has featured for youth national teams in a number of age groups. She has scored 24 goals in her two years with the Cardinals and seems to fill the striker bill that Portland has been looking to fill since Nadia Nadim departed at the conclusion of the 2017 season.
With this trade, the Thorns now have the first overall pick in the NWSL Draft, as well as picks 15 and 16 overall in the second round, 25 in the third round, and 34 in the fourth round.
What other trades could we see from the Thorns?
Next up for Portland, from multiple sources:— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) January 8, 2020
Thorns have traded Midge Purce, 2021 first round pick to Sky Blue FC for Raquel Rodríguez.#NWSL
Additionally, The Washington Post’s Steven Goff has indicated that Portland will be trading draft picks to Sky Blue FC for the rights to Hailie Mace, the second overall pick in last year’s draft who opted to play abroad in Sweden.
Looking like Mace to Thorns for draft pick(s)— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 8, 2020
Stumptown Footy will be following both stories as information is released from the club.