Sunday at 5:00pm we get our first look at this years’ edition of Thorns FC on the pitch.
Some quick hits about that, and a little more news, below the fold.
Per Preseason Ad Astra:
Sunday’s preseason match will be against the Chicago Red Stars, one of last-season’s top four clubs. The Chicago website has a look at who the Stars had in camp as of last week, and they included (outside all the familiar names):
- Three players on the current USWNT; Casey Short, Alyssa Naeher, and Christen Press. Julie Johnston is getting married shortly and if you see a defender named Ertz wearing number 8 on Sunday, that’s her; she’s said she’s going to go by her husband’s name. BUT…the same site says that She-Who-Used-To-Be-JJ won’t be available for the USWNT’s April 6 and April 9 matches against Russia, so your guess is as good as mine whether she’ll travel with the Red Stars here this weekend.
- Draftees Morgan Proffitt and Lauren Kaskie. Both midfielders, Proffitt was ranked between 44th (All White Kit) to 59th nationally (Top Drawer) and Kaskie (76th or 135 nationally by AWK, unranked by Top Drawer). Proffitt played both DM and CB, so it’ll be interesting to see where Dames puts her. Kaskie is a fourth-rounder who Henderson describes as “a grinder” and a probably reserve.
- Invitees include college products Jackie Altschuld (U. San Diego, MF), Ashley Gogolin (Wright State, MF), Kourtney Kutscher (Cal State – Northridge, MF), Emily Richardson (U. Evansville, D), and Simone Kolander (Minnesota, F). Midfielder Brittany Ratcliffe was drafted last season by Boston, appeared 14 times in 2016 but was waived last month. None of these players seems to have been highly rated last season but impressed in camp. We’ll have to see where, or whether, they play Sunday.
Chicago can arguably be considered one of the best or, possibly, the league’s top backline. I’d argue that at their best Reynolds-Sonnett-Menges-Kling are equally good…but you can make the argument they’re not.
With Short and Gilliland pushing up wide and holding up play in the corners, JJ and Sam Johnson locking down the middle, with Naughton in reserve? When they’re on that’s a hell of a good unit. We’ll have to see how close to midseason form they look against Portland’s attack.
On the other hand, Chicago had some issues scoring last season (when Press wasn’t scoring they didn’t score a lot; more than one only 6 times, blanked in 20% of their games…), and really had problems scoring against Portland; one goal (and a freakish sort of gift-goal, at that) in the home draw, scoreless in the loss here.
Will the addition of Seattle alum Summer Green, back from a year off in rehab, help here? Will this be the season the Christen Press finally dominates? Can Hoy step up? Will McCaffery?
Chicago started out the 2016 with a loss to Houston but then ripped out nine games without a loss; 5-0-3 from April to mid-June. Surely the Red Stars will want to use this Sunday not just as a training exercise but as a launch for another fast start to 2017, where the Thorns will play them again 4/29 as well as home-and-home meetings with the defending champions in late May.
Attention, campers! Calling all Thorns:
Speaking of the national team players, rumor has it that the USWNT will pull their callups before the final preseason match here April 1 for the 4/6/17 friendly. For the Thorns that will include the usual suspects: Heath, Long, Klingenberg, and Horan may be gone before the Houston match.
Interestingly, Emily Sonnett is not getting the call for April.
Nadia Nadim has been called up for the Denmark friendly against Finland April 11. Given the timing I suspect that she is unlikely to miss the home opener, but she may start on the bench if she has a rough match against the Finns. I can’t imagine she’ll miss any preseason matches, either.
Christine Sinclair will also be called up for two matches in April, the 6th in Sweden and and 9th in Germany.
I can’t find a schedule for the Icelandic women, and I’m not sure how Brynjarsdóttir‘s rehab is going. I’m guessing that if she’s well enough to play this coming week she might well have a national team match in early April…but both of those are wild-ass guesses.
I know I keep harping on this, but…
The league still hasn’t announced a site, or a broadcast team, or a partnership, or…well, anything for streaming non-Lifetime matches.
Let’s hope it’s simply because the arrangements are so simple and perfect that they’ll just fall into place like the gentle rain from heaven.
See you Sunday!