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The two surprise inclusions on the Thorns’ first team sheet: Maureen Fitzgerald and Brittany Persaud

Maureen Fitzgerald and Brittany Persaud were surprise features on the Thorns’ team sheet Friday night.

Thorns FC/Craig Mitchelldyer

NWSL fans have branded West Coast night games ‘NWSL After Dark’ for a reason, and last night we saw why. At the end of the Portland Thorns vs. Kansas City match Simone Charley, Mark Parsons, Morgan Weaver and Kristen Edmonds were sent off. The Thorns won the match 2-1 despite finishing the match with nine players.

But the NWSL After Dark Energy could be felt even before kickoff. The Portland Thorns released their lineup, and two players were listed as substitutes that fans and media alike were unaware of.

Maureen Fitzgerald

One of the players was Maureen Fitzgerald. The astute Thorns fan may recognize her. She played three previous matches, totaling 134 minutes in 2016. Fitzgerald helped fill Portland Thorns’ roster spots ahead of major absences because of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Fitzgerald hails from Beaverton, Oregon. She played for Westview High School before playing a year of college soccer at Boise State in 2009. Fitzgerald continued her college career at the University of Oregon. During her college soccer career she made 83 appearances.

After graduating, Fitzgerald coached at Concordia, even later becoming a middle school teacher at West Sylvan Middle School. She created a health and wellness after school program, gave extra credit to students who could go without social media for a month, and created a GoFundMe and raised money to create one of the few classrooms in the country to have standing desks.

In 2016, coach Mark Parsons called her out of the blue. The next day she called in a substitute teacher and went to Providence Park to complete her physical.

Fitzgerald also played in the Women’s Premier Soccer League with Tualatin Hills United SC Diamonds. She was named a Northwest Division All-Star in 2014. Fitzgerald also participated in the 2017 FUTSAL World Cup.

Brittany Persaud

The other surprise player on the team sheet was Brittany Persaud. Persaud is an American-born Guyanese forward. Persaud played her college soccer in Ohio, first at the University of Dayton and then at the neighboring Wright State University.

Persaud made eight appearances for the Dayton Flyers in 2008. She played for Wright State from 2009-2011. Persaud became Wright State’s all-time assist leader with 24. She also ranked eight all-time in points for the program. She scored 16 goals as well.

Persaud played for Kungsbacka DFF in Sweden (2012) and ADO Den Haag (2012-13) and Telestar in Holland. With ADO Den Haag, Persaud won the KNVB Women’s Cup.

Persaud returned to the U.S. in 2019, signing for the Women’s Premier Soccer League’s Dayton Dutch Lions. She was also a member of the Guyana Women’s National Team from 2010-2018. Persaud later joined the coaching staff of the Guyana U20 Women’s National Team in 2019.

The details of both players’ contracts have not been made public.