The Portland Thorns added four new players via the NWSL College Draft in Los Angeles, California on Thursday, drafting midfielder-forward Rachel Hill (#14 overall) out of UConn, forward Savannah Jordan (#18 overall) out of Florida, forward Tyler Lussi (#21 overall) out of Princeton, and midfielder-forward Caroline Flynn out of Nebraska (#40 overall).
Lacking the top of the draft selections the Portland Thorns possessed last season, head coach Mark Parsons had to get creative in his selections, while looking to plug the few holes in a roster that took the NWSL Shield last season and has seen minimal turnover, with only the retirement of Kat Williamson and Jennifer Skogerboe joining South Korean side Suwon FMC this offseason.
With their first selection, the 4th pick of the second round, the Thorns selected Rachel Hill out of UConn. Hill, a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, scored 61 goals and added 18 assists in 89 appearances (89 starts) over four seasons with the Huskies, leading them to the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship.
"With Rachel, she's an incredible teammate," Parsons said in a release follow the draft. "You can't find someone who has not had a great experience or even an average experience with her as a teammate. She's going to be a super teammate, a great person that's going to help our group come closer and stronger.
"You throw in the records that she's done on the field, the goals that she's scored, the goals she's created and this is someone that has great potential, especially in our environment, to become a very good player.
The Thorns second selection was surprising to many, as they selected Savannah Jordan out of Florida, despite the knowledge that she would be beginning the season in France. The add to the intrigue, the Thorns traded their #20 and #27 selections to North Carolina to make this selection.
Jordan could very well prove to be worth the wait. A four-time NSCAA All-American and All-SEC Selection with the Gators, she scored 81 goals and 27 assists over 84 appearances (93 starts). Additionally she has appeared with both the U-20 and U-23 USWNTs, including three appearances in the 2014 U-20 Women's World Cup in 2014.
"Savannah Jordan is probably the best forward in this draft and the opportunity to talk to her at a later time about coming to Portland is exciting and one that we obviously value highly."
Making another trade, the Thorns picked up the #21 overall selection for a pair of 2018 picks, which they used to select Tyler Lussi out of Princeton.
"I'm just excited to join the team and learn so much from every player," Lussi said in the Thorns' release. "But I'm also excited to see the fanbase because I know there's huge support from that. And to be able to play in front of so many fans is what I'm really looking forward to."
Lussi was a four year starter for the Tigers, leaving as the program's all-time leading scorer after netting 53 goals and 16 assists in 68 appearances (63 starts), while being named to All-Ivy League team four times and was the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015. She was recently called into the USWNT U-23 team.
With their final selection, and the final selection of the draft, the Thorns selected Caroline Flynn out of Nebraska. Flynn made 78 appearances (78 starts) for the Huskers, scoring 11 goals and adding 7 assists. She was named to the 2016 All-Big 10 Second Team, was 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-American, and recently appeared with the USWNT U-23 team.
The NWSL and the Thorns have yet to release the preseason or regular season schedule, which was announced to have expanded to 24 matches for the upcoming season, so it remains to be seen when we will get our first look at the new Thorns.