Thorns FC: Spring Forward

The Thorns are playing!  The Thorns are playing!

Okay, I get it, it’s only training camp and it’s only the first day, but…hot damn!  THAT’s the kind of sign of spring worth setting your clock forward for!

Camp notes, and more, after the jump…with some late injury updates as of Friday 3/17.

What was interesting about today’s camp roster was not just who is on it but who isn’t.  Here’s who stepped on the pitch today, per the Oregonian (non-rostered players are in italics):

Goalkeepers: Emily Armstrong, Britt Eckerstrom, Adrianna Franch

Defenders: Ellie Boon, Meghan Cox, Caroline Flynn, Kelli Hubly, Kendall Johnson, Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Menges, Katherine Reynolds, Emily Sonnett

Midfielders: Celeste Boureille, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Amandine Henry, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long, Mana Shim, Mallory Weber, Tobin Heath

Forwards: Ashley Herndon, Nadia Nadim, Christine Sinclair, Meg Morris, Hayley Raso

What’s great about this?  One thing that’s great to see is Ellie Boon’s name up there in the defenders.  I still think she’s a terrific option at fullback and even depth at centerback.

Another is that there’s a lot of successful rehab out there: Kling, Megzilla, Dagny*, Nadia, and Amandine.  Looking like the physio earned her pay packet this winter.  Hopefully all five are ready and working towards match fitness.

Injury Update 3/17*: Unfortunately, Dagny is now reported to have had a flare-up of her back problems; Jamie Goldberg reported Thursday that she is out for two weeks, at least.

The other Thorn reported to be working through injury is Lindsay Horan, whose hip flexor has kept her off the pitch this week, tho Goldberg quotes Parsons as saying she should be training some time next week.

What’s kind of odd, though?

Where in the world is Tyler Lussi?*

(Note: Picture on left – NOT Tyler Lussi!)

Flynn, the other draftee, is there.  Lussi’s on the team roster page.  Why isn’t she in camp?  Injury trouble?  Personal issues?

Hard to be sure what’s going on, but hopefully we’ll hear more in a bit.  But if anyone knows, contact Slide Rule Pass!  We’ll be interested to hear what’s the deal with Tyler.

Sorry, there’s no reward offered.

Update 3/14: In her live chat Tuesday Jamie Goldberg of the Oregonian was asked this directly and admitted that she had no information on Lussi’s status, but will ask Coach Parsons when she interviews him Thursday.  I’ll report anything I hear then, or sooner.

*Update 3/14 3:30pm: Found her.  Jamie now reporting that Lussi is still working towards her degree, so she will join the team as her course load and/or graduation schedule permits.  The official Princeton graduation day this year is June 6, so let’s call that the most likely earliest date she could be available.

Speaking of rewards, though, here’s some information about the non-rostered players (other than Ellie Boon, since I’ve raved about the UP LB all over this site already…if you want to you can read Henderson for more on her – he ranked her #21 overall).

Emily Armstrong: Connecticut, 2016  Top Drawer: #98 overall, #4 in conference (American Athletic).  All White Kit: #53 of 135

Chris Henderson describes her as: “…a very secure set of hands, Armstrong is still capable of making acrobatic saves and has a rocket for a leg, especially on punts…still could get a bit better in the air for someone her size.  When I saw her live against Cincinnati, Armstrong seemed to struggle a bit in traffic, which adds to the concerns in the air stated above.  Still, Armstrong’s an A-level shot stopper that isn’t afraid to play on the edge. She’s not an elite prospect, but Armstrong is probably worth a long look at the very least.”

Meghan Cox: Virginia, 2016.  Top Drawer: unranked.  All White Kit: #82 of 135

Cox appears to have been associated with the Washington Spirit youth academy (which may well have earned her the invitation here…) and played for James Madison University as well as UVa.  I’m not sure what happened to her at Virginia in 2016, but she seems to have seen very sporadic playing time.  I’m guessing not injury, since her appearances tend to be as a starter for full 90-minute (or mostly full-time) matches interspersed with games on the bench.  What is a little concerning is that Cox was yanked in the 36′ minute at UNC and never played another minute in 2016.  Injury?  And what kept her popping in and out of the UVa lineup last season?

When she did play Cox seems to have stayed home, a pure defender; a total of 5 shots, 1 on goal in 6 games.

Kelli Hubly: Kentucky and DePaul, 2016. Top Drawer: unranked.  All White Kit: #120 of 135

Redshirted 2015, played 18 games in 2016 (listed as forward/midfielder) 1 goal, 5 assists on 12 shots.  Another forward-to-defender conversion project?  Hmmm.  Maybe “Kelli Hubly” is “Tyler Lussi” spelled backwards?

Ashley Herndon: James Madison University, 2016  Top Drawer: #69 overall, #1 in her conference (Colonial Athletic, so fairly modest).  All White Kit: 50 of 135.

Played 20 games for JMU in 2016, 11 goals, 6 assists on 82 shots.  Another Washington Spirit product, this with the Reserve team as recently as 2016.  Described as a sort of utility-attacker, Herndon’s highlight reel looks pretty slick, but she seems to have had a tough 2016, which is probably why she missed out on the draft.  Chris Henderson said of her: “…her numbers against top teams were almost non-existent, while her goal total sunk and shots per goal ballooned. Looking at the four factors advanced metrics for scorers who had ten or more non-penalty goals, Herndon was dead last in the nation, which is an ominous sign in a loaded class. She might be worth a late-round flyer, especially for the Spirit, but it looks like an uphill climb right now.”

Ouch.  Still, sounds like she’s worth a look as a walk-on.

It’s great that the Gals in Red are on the pitch.  Off the pitch, though, there’s some questions – and some disturbing rumors – about the NWSL broadcast deal.  Specifically, The Equalizer reported that “… the clubs have informed their broadcast teams their services will no longer be needed as it becomes increasingly clear a majority of the Lifetime broadcasts will originate from a central studio.”

I fell confident saying that if any club retains its women’s broadcast team it will be the Thorns.  But if the league plans to continue streaming all the non-Lifetime matches, why would they be advising the clubs to 86 their own production staff?  I asked Jamie Goldberg what she’d heard and she replied, nothing yet, but that she’d check in today to see if the FO had anything definite.  As of this moment – almost 7pm Monday – I haven’t heard anything.

So consider me “hopeful but a trifle concerned…”