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Meet the Thorns: McCall Zerboni

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Spending the majority of her career with the Flash, Zerboni looks to bring grit and toughness to the Thorns' midfield.

Lauren Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

As the Thorns open their third NWSL season this Saturday against the Boston Breakers, we will profile the new faces donning the Thorns kit.

We continue with midfielder McCall Zerboni.

Number: 77
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-4
Born: Dec. 13, 1986, in Camarillo, Calif.
Hometown: San Clemente, Calif.
College: UCLA
Last Club: Western New York Flash (NWSL)

Zerboni, 28, was acquired by the Thorns, along with defender Kat Williamson, on November 6, 2014.

A longtime member of the Western New York Flash, Zerboni made 46 appearances (45 starts) over two NWSL seasons, recording 4 goals and 2 assists, where she captained the 2013 Flash side to the NWSL Final, where they lost to the Thorns.

Zerboni played for the Flash in WPS (2011) and WPSL Elite (2012), and was named the captain of the 2012 squad, winning the league championships in both 2011 and 2012, and played with Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair both of those seasons.

Prior to joining the Flash, Zerboni played for the Los Angeles Sol in 2009, making 10 appearances (4 starts) and recording a goal.  Selected by the Atlanta Beat in the expansion draft ahead of the 2010 season, Zerboni made 20 appearances (15 starts), recording 2 assists.

A two-year starter at UCLA, Zerboni made 98 appearances (79 starts), recording 13 goals and 17 assists, recording a hat-trick in the opening round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, which she appeared in each season as a Bruin.

Internationally, Zerboni appeared for the United States U17 national team in 2003, playing against Canada and Germany.

Thorns head coach Paul Riley had this to say about Zerboni at the time of her acquisition:

McCall has been on my radar for a long time.  She has a great engine, an experienced mind and tremendous competitive appetite.

Zerboni brings a high workrate and relentlessness to the pitch that the Thorns have been missing since Becky Edwards went down midway through the 2013 season, and brings years of on-field leadership, another area that the Thorns had been sorely lacking.

While she played more of a holding role with the Flash, Riley appears to envision her as an attacker, as she has shown in both training and preseason, but should the Thorns need someone to slot in front of the backline, Zerboni is more than capable of stepping into the role, and will be a vital piece for the team this season.

Matt's Take from Training

An attacking midfielder with a good turn of pace, Zerboni will dart in and out of pockets of space in the attacking half. Able to shoot and pick out a pass, she will be a constant danger that will help pull defenders out of position and create time and space for her teammates. Zerboni is also experienced and can help cover defensively if other midfielders push forward in attack, especially if Allie Long starts in a more central midfield role. There may still be some tinkering left to fully fit Zerboni into the system and vice versa, but the progression has been solid throughout preseason.