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Portland Thorns: Free Agency Wish List

In the first NWSL free agency ever, the Portland Thorns will have an opportunity to make their championship roster even better.

Marta appears in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Marta is Brazil’s all-time international leading scorer with over 100 goals. She is considered one of the best players of all time.
Photograph by Maddie Meyer / FIFA / Getty

Free agency!

For the first time, free agency in the NWSL has officially begun!
Thanks to the amazing work of the NWSL and the NWSL Players Association (NWSLPA), the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) allows nearly 50 players the ability to choose their next destination.

Players who have six or more years in the league are free agents and can sign with any club.

The Portland Thorns have already extended superstars Becky Sauerbrunn and Christine Sinclair through the 2023 season.

Which free agents should general manager Karina Leblanc and head coach Rhian Wilkinson add to the team? Melina and I discuss our wish list for the club.

Melina’s Wish List

Jasmyne Spencer

Spencer has always caught my eye since I started watching the league. She has been in the NWSL since day one, when she signed with Washington Spirit to play the league’s inaugural season. Throughout her professional career, she has not only played in different NWSL clubs, but also in Sweden and Australia — and that has added other dimensions to her game over the years passed. Speaking of her attributes as a footballer, Spencer certainly knows how to dribble and send good crosses to the box. She’s a versatile player who has played in attacking positions for most of her career, but in the last year — at Angel City — she was converted into a right back and did a pretty good job.

Why do I think Spencer would be a good fit?

Well, I think Portland needs another player who can play as a fullback. I know Natu won’t go anywhere during World Cup months and that Nally and Tegan McGrady can potentially play in her position but still. Jasmyne can also carry the ball and contribute to the attack as Klingenberg has done in previous years for the team. She’s also so fun to watch! And her experience can be very handy in a year when many of our starters will be gone for a couple of months.

Vanessa DiBernardo

I know the Illinois native will probably never leave the club she’s been playing for since the league started. She’s too tied to Chicago but, hey this is a wish list and I decided to put her in the basket. If the club can afford her and if she wants to change clubs after a long career in Chicago, that’s another story. DiBernardo has always been a reliable piece of Chicago’s midfield and has featured in every playoff game the Red Stars have played.

Championship Aspirations

She has expressed her desire to win a championship before her retirement after being so close so many times with Chicago so, who knows? Maybe she can fulfill that dream in a club like Portland. I know that Portland’s midfield is pretty good with Sinclair, Coffey, Rocky, and Hina as the usual players in the starting XI, but all of them will be potentially away for the World cup, and we will need help in the midfield. And who better than a veteran like her?

Phuoc’s Wishlist


Easily one of the best to ever play the game. She holds the record for most international goals in Brazil history with 115. Her vision, magic, and creativity is unmatched.

Every time she has the ball at her feet, something amazing can happen.

There is no player in the history of the sport like her.

Why Portland?

Since Orlando was awarded an expansion team in 2015, the club has been devoid of any significant accomplishments outside of one playoff appearance in 2017.

Portland offers her a chance to win NWSL Challenge Cups, International Champions Cups, NWSL Shields, and NWSL Championships. With her career being in the twilight phase, it may be the last chance Marta can win big games and titles.

Additional bonus: Portland has the second-most attended matches in all of NWSL. The Rose City Riveters and Thorns fans are the best in the league, and the atmosphere is impossible to find elsewhere.

Katie Johnson

The California native is one of the most underrated players in the league. There are not many players who possess her skill, brilliance, and ability. She has appeared for the Mexico national team with 25 caps and scoring 8 goals. Since being drafted in 2017 by the Reign, she has over 100 caps in NWSL play with 11 goals.

The Rhian Wilkinson Effect

Head Coach Rhian Wilkinson has the ability to get the most out of every player on her roster. She has a system in place that can highlight players strengths, which results in everyone excelling. Katie Johnson would be a key piece for Portland. During the World Cup break, the Thorns will be without Sauerbrunn, Sinclair, Rocky, Hina, Sam, Crystal, Natu, Beckie, and MVP Sophia Smith. Even when they return, however, she is a difference maker and a game changer.

Who is on your Free Agent Wish List? Let us know below in the comments.