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Thorns FC sign Hina Sugita to a three-year deal

The Japanese midfielder has signed with the Thorns for three years in exchange for allocation money.

INAC Kobe Leonessa v Omiya Ardija Ventus - WE League Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

Portland Thorns FC today announced that the club has signed Japanese midfielder Hina Sugita to a three-year contract. The Thorns acquired the rights to Sugita via a transfer with INAC Kobe Leonessa in exchange for allocation money. Sugita will join the team in Portland after the receipt of her P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

“Hina is a player that the club has been pursuing for the last few years, and we are happy to welcome her to Portland,” said Thorns FC general manager Karina LeBlanc. “She is a young talent with international experience and a skillset that strengthens our roster.”

Sugita, 24, has made 27 appearances with the Japan Women’s National Team. She has made 19 starts and scored twice. The midfielder appeared in both the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

When Sugita was 15 she was selected for the Japan U-17 national team and played in the 2012 U-17 Women’s World Cup. She played in all four matches and scored twice. In 2013, she played in the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship which Japan won for the second straight time. Sugita scored six goals and was selected tournament MVP.

Sugita played in her second U-17 World Cup in 2014. She captained the team in Japan’s five matches, helped lead Japan to their first title in the competition, and was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

She was awarded the Golden Ball for the 2016 U-20 World Cup as well. Sugita played in all six of Japan’s matches and the Nadeshiko finished in third place.

“Hina is a playmaker with the ability to play across multiple positions,” said Thorns FC head coach Rhian Wilkinson. “She plays with bravery on the ball always looking for opportunities to be dangerous, she sees passes others do not see. Her on-field vision, creativity and ball control are traits that allow her to find a way out of tight positions to break open opposing teams.”

Sugita made her professional debut with Japanese side INAC Kobe Leonessa in 2015 and became a regular fixture in the side in 2016. In 2016, she was named Best Young Player and was later selected to the Best XI in 2019. Sugita has helped the Leonessa become Empress Cup champions in 2015 and 2016 and finished runners-up in the Nadeshiko League Division 1 four times (2016, 2017, 2018, 2020). The Leonessa began their inaugural season in Japan’s new professional women’s league, the WE League, in 2021. Sugita has started nine matches and scored one goal. INAC Kobe Leonessa are currently unbeaten and sit at the top of the table.

The Thorns’ full release can be found here.