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Portland Thorns Make Amber Brooks Signing Officially Official

Karina Hessland

The Portland Thorns finally made their long rumored signing of Amber Brooks official today after originally drafting the defensive-minded midfielder in the inaugural NWSL draft.

Brooks, who played with Germany's Bayern Munich for the last year, has been rumored to be returning to the USA since earlier this winter when it was revealed that she had cut ties with her club side. Brooks has been on the fringe of the USWNT and was likely under pressure to return to play in the United States, as the Equalizer revealed today in this article about the return of forward Christen Press to the US.

Brooks has been a highly touted prospect for the US in recent years, and her addition to the Thorns will go a long way toward revamping the midfield that many though was the team's weak spot last season.

The Timbers also announced that the team was waiving backup keeper Adalaide Gay and forward Elizabeth Guess.

The Thorns' press release:

Club waives goalkeeper Adelaide Gay, midfielder Elizabeth Guess

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC today announced the signing of midfielder Amber Brooks from Bayern Munich in Germany’s Frauen Bundesliga. Per league and club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Thorns FC also announced that the club has waived goalkeeper Adelaide Gay and midfielder Elizabeth Guess. 

Brooks, 22, was drafted by Thorns FC in the third round (No. 24 overall) of the 2013 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft on Jan. 18, 2013, but had previously agreed to a contract with Bayern Munich. A standout at the University of North Carolina from 2009-12, Brooks earned her first international cap for the U.S. Women’s National Team on Nov. 10, 2013, in a 4-1 win over Brazil in an international friendly. A native of New Hope, Pa., Brooks started and played 81 minutes for the United States in their final competitive match of 2013.

"Amber is a massive addition to our team," Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley said. "She has the ability to anchor a creative midfield and run the show. She is technical, intelligent and mobile. I’m excited to get Amber in Portland and look forward to her being a major part of our quest for the championship."

A captain with the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team in 2012, Brooks recorded four goals in 10 league appearances for Bayern Munich during the 2012-13 Frauen Bundesliga campaign. During the current 2013-14 season, Brooks notched five goals in nine league appearances. In all competitions, Brooks scored 10 goals in 22 games for Bayern Munich since March 2013.

"I’m very excited to be a member of the Portland Thorns and for the opportunity to work with Paul Riley," Brooks said. "I’m looking forward to joining a roster full of top-class teammates and playing in front of such passionate fans in Portland. I think playing for Portland will also help me continue to develop my game and achieve future goals. I enjoyed my experience in Germany, but I look forward to playing in the United States and helping the league continue to grow in its second year."

Brooks had an accomplished collegiate career at North Carolina, developing into one of the country’s top playmaking midfielders. As a four-year starter and a two-time captain, she led the Tar Heels to back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) titles in 2009-10 and national championships in 2009 and 2012. Brooks started all 23 games for North Carolina as a senior in 2012, recording seven goals and six assists during the team’s NCAA championship run. Among her many collegiate accolades, she was a two-time All-American, twice selected to the NCAA All-Tournament Team (2009, 2012), named 2012 National Player of the Year by Top Drawer Soccer, a finalist for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award, and received all-conference honors all four years. In total, Brooks played in 93 games, recording 17 goals and 19 assists during her collegiate career. 

A key starter during her youth international career, Brooks played a significant role for her country in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, captaining the team in the championship match and playing every minute of all five games in the tournament. Brooks also served as a starter for the U.S. during the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and was named Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Four Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain, as the U-23 Women’s National Team won the title in March 2012.

Gay, 24, did not make a league appearance during the 2013 NWSL campaign, her first as a professional. In a reserve role, she was on the match day roster for all 22 regular-season games and both NWSL playoff games last season. 

Guess, 28, played in four matches during the 2013 regular season, making one start and registering 67 minutes. She began the 2013 NWSL season with the Boston Breakers before being acquired by Portland off waivers on April 24, 2013.

Amber Brooks
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-6
Born: Jan. 23, 1991, in Evansville, Ind.
Hometown: New Hope, Pa. 
Last Club: Bayern Munich (Germany)
College: Univ. of North Carolina
Citizenship: United States