After the NWSL Challenge Cup, the league saw some of its big name US Women’s National Team players sign short-term deals with ‘big’ European clubs. Obviously, former Thorns player Tobin Heath signed the deal with Manchester United and not many were optimistic that we would see her in a Thorns’ shirt again. That turned out to be the case as Racing Louisville selected Heath’s NWSL playing rights in the expansion draft and it is still unclear whether or not she will return to the NWSL.
Portland Thorns FC did loan out two players to European clubs: Meaghan Nally and Celeste Boureille. Nally, a third round 2020 NWSL College Draft pick, was loaned to Turbine Potsdam after not registering any minutes in the Challenge Cup. Turbine Potsdam plays in the Frauen-Bundesliga in Germany.
Nally’s loan spell has allowed her to get professional minutes in one of Europe’s top leagues. The defender did not play the first two matches of the season, but soon became a fixture for the side. Since breaking into the starting 11, Nally has started every match at center back and has only been substituted twice.
Nally has helped Turbine Potsdam to four clean sheets. Since her addition to the back four, Turbine Potsdam has allowed 16 goals in nine matches, but 13 of these goals came against the top three teams in the Frauen-Bundesliga, who consistently administer drubbings to teams throughout the league.
Despite the big losses to the top three, Turbine Potsdam currently sits fourth in the league, only three points off of third-place Hoffenheim. But the German club will have to reconfigure their back line, as Nally’s loan ended on Dec. 23.
“We are of course sad that she is leaving us after such a short time, but it was clear from the start that it would only be for half a year,” said head coach Sofian Chahed. “She gave us defensive stability and we wish her all the best for the future along the way.”
Unlike Nally, Boureille clocked 265 minutes in the Challenge Cup. Out on loan with French Division 1 Féminine club FC Fleury 91 Féminine, she played many more minutes than she would have if she had opted to play in the Fall Series.
Boureille immediately slotted into the Fleury starting 11. She is one of only three players to have appeared in every league match, starting 10 of those 11 and registering 924 minutes. In France, Boureille has shown her versatility, which has helped her stay on the pitch. She played as a center midfielder, attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder, right-side midfielder, and even slotted in at center back against Olympique Lyonnais.
Boureille has helped guide Fleury to fifth in the French league, one point off of fourth place Montpellier. She has also helped the team become the ‘nice surprise’ of the French league season after finishing seventh the season prior.
Boureille also added a goal as one of her contributions in the middle of the park. She scored the game tying goal against sixth place Paris FC.
Boureille’s short-term loan will come to an end soon as she is under contract with the Portland Thorns for the 2021 season.
Both of the Thorns’ loanees have had successful spells in top European divisions. They got minutes needed to help them develop and made a positive contribution to their respective teams. Hopefully, Nally and Boureille will return to Portland and do the same.
Stats and information from the Frauen-Bundesliga and Division 1 Féminine retrieved from Fbref.com.