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Nikki Marshall Returns to Portland in a Strange Series of Moves

The ex-Thorns' fullback is once again with the team, three months after she was waived by the team.

Brett Carlsen

The Portland Thorns gave up their first round pick in the 2014 NWSL College Draft, and traded up in the second round, to the Seattle Reign in exchange for fullback Nikki Marshall. Marshall was an integral part of the Thorns' championship winning defense, playing in every game for the Thorns in 2013.

What makes the move seem somewhat strange is that Marshall was waived by the Thorns at the beginning of September. Since then Gavin Wilkinson has stated in several outlets, including the most recent press release, that the move was born out of salary cap considerations.

After being waived, Marshall's rights were picked up by the Washington Spirit in the NWSL Waiver Draft. At the time, Marshall expressed some doubts about continuing to play professionally. A month and a half later, Marshall's rights were traded to the Seattle Reign along with the rights to Alina Garciamendez and the 17th pick in the draft in exchange for the rights to Renae Cuellar and Jodie Taylor, as well as the 23rd pick in the draft.

The return of Marshall to the Thorns reunited three of the team's starting four defenders from last season's championship match. Missing from the line up is Marian Dougherty, who announced her retirement from professional soccer at the end of the season.

The Thorns' press release:


PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Thorns FC have acquired defender Nikki Marshall and the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft from Seattle Reign FC in exchange for the No. 6 overall selection in the 2014 NWSL College Draft and a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, it was announced today.

"We are very pleased to be able to bring Nikki back to the club," said general manager Gavin Wilkinson. "Parting ways after last season was a difficult decision based on salary cap considerations, and we are excited that she will be rejoining the Thorns for 2014."

Marshall, 25, helped guide Thorns FC to the inaugural NWSL championship while appearing in every match during the regular season and both playoff games. She was one of just three players to start all 22 regular-season matches for Portland during the 2013 season. A Colorado native, Marshall provided the game-tying assist in a 3-2, come-from-behind win after extra time in the semifinal round of the NWSL Playoffs against FC Kansas City on Aug. 24

"I’m excited about the opportunity to be back in Portland, it was such a great experience for me," said Marshall. "I’m even more excited play under Paul Riley. Paul and I have had conversations about me playing for him in the past and I’ve always wanted to play for him. I feel like he believes in me as a player, based upon our past conversations and experiences, so I’m thrilled for that opportunity. With Paul and the talent we have on this team, I think we can achieve big things this season." 

Marshall was waived by Portland on Sept. 6 and selected by the Washington Spirit in the NWSL Waiver Draft on Sept. 9. The former U.S. youth international was then traded from Washington to Seattle on Oct. 25.

With the swapping of draft picks, Thorns FC now hold the No. 9, No. 14, No. 22 and No. 30 selections in the 2014 NWSL College Draft on Jan. 17, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pa.