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Thorns Questions: Who Remains? (Part 1)

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With the Thorns missing several players due to the Women's World Cup, we take some time to look at who will possibly be here. Today we look at goalkeeper and defenders.

Stacey Neve/Stumptown Footy

Now that we have looked at who the Thorns will likely be missing for parts of this upcoming season, we need to look at who remains.

While every team in the NWSL will be greatly challenged by the roster call-ups prior to and during the Women's World Cup, the league has decided to shorten the season from 24 matches to 20 and lengthen the season from early April to mid-September, with the playoffs to follow.

The Thorns current roster sits at 15 players, without the national teamers, and features several players who have plenty of NWSL starting experience, including defenders Emily Menges, Nikki Marshall, and Kat Williamson, midfielders Allie Long, Sinead Farrelly, and McCall Zerboni, and forwards Danesha Adams and Jessica McDonald.

We begin by looking at goalkeeper and defenders today, and Thursday will will look at midfielders and forwards.

Goalkeeper

Michelle Betos made three appearances (two starts) for the Thorns last season in place of Nadine Angerer after she was sent off during the first half of the match against Western New York, allowing 4 goals in 63 minutes of action, including 3 in the first half alone.  Betos would then start the next two matches, a home and away series against the Washington Spirit that saw the Thorns win 2-0 and 6-1.

She joined Danish side Fortuna Hjørring following the NWSL season, making 3 starts, allowing 2 goals, during the UEFA Women's Champions League. Stats could not be located outside of final scores for the Elitedivisionen, so it is currently unknown how much she has appeared during league play.

Prior to last season, Betos made 7 starts for Seattle, compiling a record of 0-6-1 while allowing 14 goals on 49 shots on goal for a Reign side that scored four times while she was between the pipes.

Centerback

Nikki Marshall has been a mainstay on the Thorns backline in their two years of existence, starting every regular season match (46), plus both matches in the 2013 Playoffs, but suffered a ACL injury in the Thorns' last regular season match that sidelined her for the semifinal against Kansas City.  She had surgery on September 7, but no other information about her recovery has been released.

Marshall has appeared at left back, centerback, and forward during her time with the Thorns.  While she suffered a significant injury to end the season, and had surgery in early September.   ACL injuries typically have a 6 month recovery period, so she should be nearing the end of her recovery as the Thorns enter training in March.

Emily Menges made 23 appearances (22 starts) for the Thorns during her rookie season at both centerback and right back, as she was pressed into duty following Rachel Van Hollebeke's injury just prior to the season, despite still attending Georgetown University during the Spring semester to finish her degree, which led to her splitting time between the Thorns and her studies.

While her natural position is in the center, the Thorns currently lack a right back outside of Courtney Niemiec, so if needed she could feature in either position.  While she did not show particularly well on the outside, she does possess the speed to play the position and with a season under her belt, it is likely that Riley will look to try her at the position with the roster in its current state.

Kat Williamson spent last season with the Western New York Flash, making 21 appearances (20 starts) in defense.  In 2013, she started all 22 regular season matches for the Thorns, plus the two playoff matches, but was red carded in the Final after two quick yellow cards in the second half, which caused her to miss the first match of last season.

Williamson has appeared at centerback throughout her short career and will likely feature at this position for the Thorns as well, especially if Marshall starts the season injured or is pushed out to left back.

Outside Back

Rebecca Moros made 18 appearances (13 starts) for the Thorns last season, appearing at both left and right back, as well as defensive midfielder, with her best appearances coming in the latter position.

Given her ability to play multiple positions, Moros will likely find herself in a utility role, giving Riley the freedom to place her where she is needed in the lineup versus locking her into one position.

Courtney Niemiec made 11 appearances (10 starts) at right back for the Thorns as a surprise signing and starter for the Thorns, before being lost for the season to injury.

While she did make 11 appearances with the Thorns last season, her position is a point of weakness for the Thorns at the moment.  She is definitely a serviceable player in the position and the only true right back on the team at the moment, but the Thorns identified defense as their position to upgrade this off-season and right back appears to be the position of greatest need.

Kat Tarr made 6 appearances (5 starts) for the Thorns in the early part of last season before being lost to a meniscus injury for the remainder of the season.

Tarr is the only true left back that the Thorns possess on their current roster that will be available for the entire NWSL season.  While she does not possess the speed or skillset of Stephanie Catley, she is another player that can probably be slotted into multiple roles, if the need arises

In tomorrow's edition, we will look at the midfielders and forwards who may feature with the Thorns during the early stages of the season.