With the preseason matches now barely two weeks away the Thorns’ roster is looking increasingly set. But there are still bits and pieces to pick up and some positions to fill.
The team did just that this week, signing Australian striker Ashleigh Sykes and trading two 2018 fourth-round picks to the team-that-was-the-Western-New-York-Flash-now-Carolina-Courage for reserve goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom.
The Sykes signing appears designed to bolster the forward line at a time – early summer – when three of the Thorns will be leaving to play in the European championship; the presser states that Sykes (who is now playing in the Nadeshiko second division, on loan to AS Harima Albion) will “be added to the roster June 10”. This is presumably to leave space, as if Sykes and Eckerstrom were both added today the Thorns would be over the league 20-player cap.
Sykes appears to be a quality player in mid-career (25 years old, nine seasons with Canberra in the W-league (37 goals in 97 games) as well as a spell with the Matildas) who should be useful as midsummer reinforcement.
Eckerstrom, who graduated from the national championship Penn State squad in 2015, played three matches for the Flash in 2016, so she has both top-level college as well as some professional experience. She was voted Player of the Week (Week 8) in June, 2016, for her play in the WNY 1-nil win over Orlando in Rochester. She was cited in the linked article particularly for a double save in the 36th minute (which, BTW, is listed as the 38th in the NWSL play-by-play):
That clip – apologies for the dark and the distance but you know what to expect from Rochester feeds as well as I do – is kind of intriguing. Maddy Evans’ shot looks like it has some real pace on it. But…it’s also a long shot, every foot of 25 yards or so, and Eckerstrom not just can’t hold it but spills it rather badly, far enough that Jasmyne Spencer gets onto the loose ball and gets a touch on it at a very tight angle.
Fortunately for Eckerstrom the ball rolls far enough that she’s had time to get to her feet and react to Spencer’s shot, again pushing it wide for her teammate to clear.
That’s not exactly horrific goalkeeping, but…hmmm. Good positioning, fast reactions, quick feet. Hands..? That’s the “hmmm”. If she controls Evan’s attempt it’s a boring routine play. Hmmm.
Still. Seems like decent backup for a reasonable price (two fourth round picks? meh.) If I had any regret it would only be that the club couldn’t sign Emily Kruger, who has been a good trooper for years as an amateur call-up for PTFC. But I cannot find any link to Kruger’s current situation and it may well be that the club offered and she refused, or that she’s not where she could accept an offer if it was made. Wherever you are, Emily; I hope it’s good.
Seventeen days and counting; onward, Rose City!
(Oh, and feel free to discuss the recent USWNT showing against France in the comments; I didn’t feel the need to put up a post about it but…hmmm.)