After receiving news about changes in the Thorns’ backline on Monday, the club delivered more news on Tuesday regarding two veterans of the backline. Portland Thorns FC announced on Tuesday that defenders Kelli Hubly and Emily Menges have signed contract extensions through the 2024 season.
Emily Menges is, after Christine Sinclair, the most capped player for the Thorns with 142 games played in the regular season and 168 across all competitions. Being one of the most consistent center backs of the league, Menges is also one of the most underrated. She has only appeared in the NWSL Best XI once in 2016, and she featured in the second Best XI in 2017 and 2018. Despite the league-wide recognition, her work rate and her leadership on and off the field speak for themselves— as Thorns fans witness on almost a weekly basis. And although both Hubly and Menges signed 2 years contracts, Menges also has an option to extend it to 2025.
Regarding Menges, General Manager Karina LeBlanc said: “Everything she brings to this club, her commitment to the team, fans, the community and overall, to the game, highlights her impact. For us, it was important that Menges felt that we appreciated all the work she has done as a veteran in this league and team.”
The center-back has been unavailable in the last few games due to a foot injury. Nonetheless, she already has 10 games under her belt this year (Challenge Cup and regular season). She’s fundamental for the backline and it’s no wonder that she holds the record for most consecutive minutes played (3,683) accumulated between 2016 and 2017. For this and much more, coach Rhian Wilkinson describes her as a “foundational element of the team and organization. Someone who lives and breathes the Thorns values and identity.”
In the case of Kelli Hubly, her journey is just incredible. She came into Portland as a national team replacement in 2017 after not being drafted, and little by little (with a lot of hard work behind the scenes) she became a very important piece of the Thorns' defense. So much so that this year she has started in all the games the club has played in the regular season.
As years pass by she keeps adding layers to her game and in 2022 we’ve got to see a very interesting new one for a defender: the goal. She was pretty close to doing it in 2021...
... And it finally came in 2022:
Kelli Hubly has played 67 matches across all competitions, and in the 12 matches she has played so far this season, she registers the highest number of clearances (47), interceptions (22), blocks (4) and is second in tackles (10) when we compared her to the rest of the backline.
She has evolved so much as a player since she got to Portland— but her good qualities on the field are equally matched to those off the field. “She is a connector in the locker room, a player who directly influences our team culture and connection daily,” said coach Rhian Wilkinson.
You can read the full press release from the Thorns here.