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.
Yesterday we looked at goalkeeper and defenders. Today we take a look at midfielders and forwards.
McCall Zerboni made 24 appearances (23 starts) last season for the Western New York Flash, scoring 3 goals and adding 2 assists and in 2013, she made 20 starts and scored 1 goal while also wearing the Captain’s armband. She had been playing for the Flash since 2011, where she appeared in their iterations as part of Women’s Professional Soccer (2011) and Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Elite in 2012.
Zerboni is a more traditional defensive midfielder than Amber Brooks was, and should remind Timbers fans of Diego Chara for her relentless play, while also adding to the attack when needed, and is capable of playing all positions in the midfield, when needed.
Allie Long made 22 appearances (20 starts) for the Thorns last season, finishing 5th in the league with 9 goals and adding 3 assists. In 2013 she made 22 appearances (22 starts), scoring 3 goals and 3 assists.
Long’s performance has propelled her into the position of potentially making the World Cup roster, as she was recently called in the USWNT’s January training camp and made 4 appearances in 2014 with the national team, recording 1 assist. Given her ability to play at defensive midfielder, it is likely that Jill Ellis is giving her some consideration for the roster, given that this is perhaps the United States’ weakest position at the moment, but Long is likely to find herself on the outside, which benefits the Thorns.
Sinead Farrelly made 17 appearances (16 starts) for the Thorns last season, but finished the season with a mystery illness that was never fully revealed by the team. In 2013 she made 16 appearances (10 starts) for FC Kansas City, scoring 1 goal.
While she was a very frustrating player for Thorns’ fans, Riley stuck with her throughout the season. While she didn’t impress statistically, her play was improving before her illness and one can only hope this trend continues.
Mana Shim made 17 appearances (4 starts) for the Thorns last season, recording two assists. In 2013, Shim became a fan favorite and surprise starter for the Thorns, making 19 appearances (17 starts), recording 5 goals and 2 assists during her rookie season.
Last season was frustrating for Shim, as she struggled to meet Riley’s conditioning requirements early in the season and then could never find the goal-scoring form she had in 2013. Shim could find herself once again filling an important role for the Thorns early in the season, especially if they’re without Tobin Heath, Long, and the still un-signed Vero Boquete until after the World Cup.
Danesha Adams played for Washington in 2014, where she made 13 appearances (9 starts) for the Spirit, scoring 1 goal and 1 assist. In 2013, Adams appeared in 20 matches (20 starts) recording 3 goals and 3 assists for Sky Blue FC. In the 2013 off-season, Adams played for Turkish side Ataşehir Belediyespor , where she scored 8 goals in 7 appearances. Adams was signed off waivers from the Spirit following the 2014 season and has been playing for Apollon Limassol of the Cypriot First Division and competing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Regular season stats could not be located.
Adams gives the Thorns another attacking option, and given the right situation could potentially have a Jessica McDonald-like transformation under Riley. She has proven that at times she can be a goal-scorer, but this mostly appears to be against weaker competition, but given the options the Thorns have with the current construction of the roster, she is a potential starter early in the season.
Jessica McDonald made 24 appearances (13 starts) for the Thorns in 2014, finishing 3rd in the NWSL with 11 goals and 1 assist. In 2013 she made 16 appearances (10 starts) between Chicago and Seattle, scoring 3 goals and adding 2 assists. After the NWSL season, she signed with Hereforder SV in Germany, where she has scored 3 goals in 5 appearances.
McDonald finished the season as the Thorns’ top scorer, but found herself relegated to bench after the return of Alex Morgan, giving the Thorns a potent weapon in reserve. Assuming McDonald can keep her 2014 form, she will likely start the season up top for the Thorns.
Hanna Terry made 2 appearances for the Thorns, logging a total of 8 minutes during the 2014 season. Appearing first as an amateur player, Terry joined the Thorns after the injuries to both Niemiec and Tarr placed them on injured reserve. She also appeared for Westside Timbers of the WPSL, scoring 2 goals. Additionally, she has previously appeared with Sweden’s U23 squad and is currently playing with Thorns newcomer Adams with Apollon Limassol, where she has appearing in two matches in the UEFA Women’s Champion’s League. Regular season stats could not be located.
Terry began the season as one of many amateur practice players that train with the Thorns most sessions, and then was signed when a roster spot became available, though she only made one appearance after her signing, playing 3 minutes. Assuming her experience in Cyprus improves her form, she could be a factor early in the season.
With the players covered on this article, the Thorns roster could look something like this:
The Thorns roster is by no means set, and any number of players could move in or out between now and April. In the next article of this series, we’ll look at the Thorns roster as a whole. Then we’ll continue on by looking at what positions they need to fill to strengthen their roster, Paul Riley’s impact in his second season, and ways the Thorns could look to help themselves field a complete roster, even if the NWSL doesn't expand the roster beyond 20 players.