Thorns Roster (and schedule) for Utah

We finally know who’s going to travel from Portland to Salt Lake City. No huge surprises; all three keepers, all the rostered players except Tobin Heath, and three NRIs.

2020 Thorns FC NWSL Challenge Cup roster
Goalkeepers (3): Bella Bixby, Britt Eckerstrom, Adrianna Franch (FED-USA)

Defenders (9): Kelli Hubly, Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Menges, Meaghan Nally (CDP), Madison Pogarch, Katherine Reynolds, Becky Sauerbrunn (FED-USA), Autumn Smithers, Christen Westphal

Midfielders (6): Celeste Boureille, Lindsey Horan (FED-USA), Emily Ogle, Rocky Rodríguez (INTL), Angela Salem, Gabby Seiler

Forwards (7): Simone Charley, Marissa Everett, Tyler Lussi, Anika Rodriguez, Christine Sinclair (FED-CAN), Sophia Smith (CDP), Morgan Weaver (CDP)

I assume you’re familiar with all the above except the NRIs, and they are:

Autumn Smithers – I’m assuming that given where she’s listed this is the “Autumn Smithers” who plays midfield for University of San Francisco, not the “Autumn Smithers” who was listed as a Notre Dame goalkeeper on the 2020 NWSL draft list. Redshirt junior, and I can’t find anything else about her, but presumably a DM given that the Thorns seem to see her as defensive depth.

Anika Rodriguez – redshirt senior at UCLA this past season, declared but not drafted. From her brief Pac-12 highlight reel she seems more like an AM than a forward.

So…there we have it. Now let’s hope everyone stays away from the bars and gets back home safe and healthy.

Update 6/23 p.m.: Here’s the revised COVID Cup schedule, now with 100% less Orlando. Dates and times of Thorns opponents bolded:

Saturday, June 2710:30 AMZions Bank StadiumNC CouragePortland Thorns FCCBS & CBS ALL ACCESS
Saturday, June 278:00 PMZions Bank StadiumChicago Red StarsWashington SpiritCBS ALL ACCESS
Tuesday, June 3010:30 AMZions Bank StadiumHouston DashUtah Royals FCCBS ALL ACCESS
Tuesday, June 308:00 PMZions Bank StadiumOL ReignSky Blue FCCBS ALL ACCESS
Wednesday, July 110:30 AMZions Bank StadiumPortland Thorns FCChicago Red StarsCBS ALL ACCESS
Wednesday, July 18:00 PMZions Bank StadiumWashington SpiritNC CourageCBS ALL ACCESS
Saturday, July 410:30 AMZions Bank StadiumUtah Royals FCSky Blue FCCBS ALL ACCESS
Saturday, July 48:00 PMZions Bank StadiumHouston DashOL ReignCBS ALL ACCESS
Sunday, July 510:30 AMZions Bank StadiumNC CourageChicago Red StarsCBS ALL ACCESS
Sunday, July 58:00 PMZions Bank StadiumPortland Thorns FCWashington SpiritCBS ALL ACCESS
Wednesday, July 810:30 AMZions Bank StadiumUtah Royals FCOL ReignCBS ALL ACCESS
Wednesday, July 88:00 PMZions Bank StadiumSky Blue FCHouston DashCBS ALL ACCESS
Sunday, July 1210:30 AMZions Bank StadiumWashington SpiritHouston DashCBS ALL ACCESS
Sunday, July 128:00 PMZions Bank StadiumChicago Red StarsUtah Royals FCCBS ALL ACCESS
Monday, July 1310:30 AMZions Bank StadiumOL ReignPortland Thorns FCCBS ALL ACCESS
Monday, July 138:00 PMZions Bank StadiumSky Blue FCNC CourageCBS ALL ACCESS
Friday, July 1710:30 AMZions Bank StadiumQuarterfinal 1CBS ALL ACCESS
Friday, July 178:00 PMZions Bank StadiumQuarterfinal 2CBS ALL ACCESS
Saturday, July 1810:30 AMZions Bank StadiumQuarterfinal 3CBS ALL ACCESS
Saturday, July 188:00 PMZions Bank StadiumQuarterfinal 4CBS ALL ACCESS
Wednesday, July 2210:30 AMRio Tinto StadiumSemifinal 1CBS ALL ACCESS
Wednesday, July 228:00 PMRio Tinto StadiumSemifinal 2CBS ALL ACCESS
Sunday, July 2610:30 AMRio Tinto StadiumChampionshipCBS & CBS ALL ACCESS

Y’know what?

I like that draw, and here’s why.

This thing is, from a silverware standpoint, worthless. Winning seven games doesn’t make anyone a “champion” anymore than putting on a tinsel crown makes me Dragon King of Bhutan.

There is no value in thumping tomato cans like Orlando or Houston. Those sad acts are made to be thumped, and you learn nothing from the doing.

But playing good teams, even when – sometimes especially when – you lose to them, teaches you how good – or not – you are.

So, given the bigger-picture worthlessness of it, if our Thorns are going to play and risk the ‘rona, better that they should play opponents that will teach us something about ourselves and give us something worthwhile to take home from this thing.

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27 thoughts on “Thorns Roster (and schedule) for Utah

  1. According to KeeperNotes:
    Smith has signed a three-year contract.
    Weaver has signed a two-year contract.
    Everett and Westphal have signed one-year contracts. (I don’t know whether there’s a 2nd year option.)
    Nally, Smithers, and Anika Rodriguez have signed short term contracts.
    The rest of the roster have either re-signed or had their options exercised.

  2. While I am grateful to see my team back on the pitch, My expectations are very low for this squad. This looks a like a re-build “year” for PTFC with big signings dead, Tobin out and Ellie gone. It will be fun to evaluate the young talent and see what we can build on for next year. Im glad Everett is getting a shot.

  3. I expect a LOT of rotation in the “group stage”, so we may see a lot of these new faces.

    My real question, though, is still how Parsons gets the most out of his attack. Lots of good players, no really obvious places to put them.

      1. I think Morgan was announced as on maternity leave, so she would have been our regardless. Leroux is apparently furious, given that she was hoping to make a comeback in Utah…

  4. I posted this as a comment on the roster thread over at Stumptown, but I think it bears repeating, so I’ll repost it here:

    1. Heath has way more to lose than gain from this thing, that’s been obvious from the jump, so hopefully Parsons has been planning for that since this was announced or before.

    2. If 2019 still means anything, “planning for that” is likely to mean seeing this squad run out in a 3-5-2. Heath was out for eleven games last season. For three Parsons ran out his preferred 4-2-3-1. Another two we saw some sort of weird 4-4-2/4-3-3/4-3-2-1 cloud. The other six? 3-5-2.

    3. Now…beyond that? I got nothin’. Once Heath returned Parsons rolled it out twice; against Washington on the last day of the regular season, and in the semi. Over the 2019 season the 3-5-2 put up two wins (Chicago on Matchday 7 and Orlando on Matchday 12, the weird ugly 4-3 home win), three draws (Utah twice and Washington on the final regular matchday), and three losses (Washington on Matchday 5, Tacoma here on Matchday 11, and Chicago in the semi). That’s…not good.

    The 3-5-2 wasn’t particularly effective then because we lacked width and pace outside and I don’t see how that’s changed much.

    4. And the team lacks an obvious way to field all the quality in midfield and at forward in their natural positions. If Sinclair stays at the 10 she, Horan, and Rodriguez overlap. If she moves up to the 9, she, Weaver, and Smith kind of overlap. Back to the 6 and she overlaps Seiler (assuming Seiler doesn’t have to play CB or RB, both of which are possible…)

    5. So I just don’t see a simple, easy way to make this roster work against the three clubs we’ll see next week.

    But that’s why Parsons makes the Big Money. Hopefully he does.

    1. Which raises a really important question: Who, if anyone, will serve as the Thorns 3rd keeper for the tourney? IIRC all clubs are required to carry 3 keepers on their roster for the tourney.

      And as for Smith’s limited participation to start, that presumably means Charley, Weaver, and Sinc up top and also creates space in the lineup for Seiler while allowing Horan and Rocky to focus more on the attack.

  5. My hope is Sophia can play after the first week and the injury is close to healed. Morgan Weaver, Simone Charley, and Tyler Lussi are going to get a ton of minutes. I do think it is interesting that Sinclair is listed as a forward.

    I see a 4-3-3 in our future with Horan at the 10, Sinclair at the 9, and a Rodriguez at the 8.

    1. Sinc has always been rostered as a forward. The team never changed that, even when the whole world could see that she wasn’t playing as a true forward. So that doesn’t really mean anything; what we’ll have to look for is where she runs out on Saturday.

      I’m going to be intrigued if Lussi gets any significant time. She was a gamebreaker in Houston and against Orlando here and Parsons swore up and down that “I won’t forget her after this”…and then he did; she barely saw the pitch the rest of the season.

      We’ll have to see on Smith. I’d rather she sit out and recover if there’s any chance she might do more damage to herself. I think these games are likely to be rough – the teams are barely in form and we’re likely to see a lot of direct, physical play – and I’d sooner see her sit than risk a truly catastrophic injury.

  6. The roster freeze was last weekend. Franch was, is, and will be on the roster as 1 of 3 keepers with Eckerstrom & Bixby. Nowhere in the rules does it say in those shared rules that your 3 goalkeepers have to be able to play minutes, nor does it say anything about emergency replacement of keeper if 1, 2 or all 3 of your keepers are unable to play. You just have to have 3 players designated as keeper on the roster.

    1. what a potential relief for the 6 people that initially tested positive. But for the Leroux’s and Marta’s and others that suddenly can’t play after all the work to get ready, this potential twist just starts to be a little cruel…

  7. I wanted to find out what the Oregon Sports Lottery was setting odds for the Challenge Cup. I found out I can bet on the Korean K-League 2, Farore Island Betrideildin, Finnish Cup, among the more well done Champions League, Premier League, etc. As well as NFL, NBA, and all sorts of sports.

    I cannot bet on the Challenge Cup. I sent an email saying I was wishing to place a bet but could not find the Challenge Cup games on their website. I got this response below l, I am annoyed. This is a Professional sporting event let people gamble on it please, state of Oregon.

    “Greetings,

    Unfortunately, we are currently unable to add odds for this league at this time. Furthermore, this league is currently not allowed in Oregon so we have escalated this to check if it would be possible to have it approved. If we receive a green light and odds are available then the league will be offered.

    Please let us know if we could help with anything else.”

    1. For anyone who does care my complaints, or something else, has gotten the challenge cup added to the Oregon Lottery Scoreboard sports betting app/website. You can now place Real money bets on the games playing tomorrow and Tuesday.

      North Carolina with best odds to win. Chicago, Houston and Seattle are all favorites to win. Draws and wins for Portland/Washington/New Jersey/Royals team are almost same odds 3.5-4 to 1.

  8. The whole “state lottery opens up a sports book” just reminds me of how weird it is that we’re willing to go there again when we saw what happened LAST time we encouraged large-scale sports betting (https://www.stumptownfooty.com/2020/5/7/21237677/the-impending-doom-of-match-fixing-in-sport). I can’t do better than repeat here what I wrote at Stumptown, so I will:

    “Bill James wrote a long piece about this surrounding the 1919 “Black Sox” Series, and his point was that the problem with gambling – on or in sport – is that the gamblers’ interests – making money from sport – inevitably come to dominate over all other interests. Basically the “bad money” drives out the good, and without a fanatic, draconian ruler (which baseball got in the form of the first commissioner) who punishes not just the guilty but the even-suspected-of-guilt (meaning some innocent players and coaches and others…) that the gamblers will come creeping back in. Or, if that authority isn’t there to begin with – as it wasn’t in 19th Century baseball – the gamblers’ come to dominate the sport.

    And so it turned out; professional baseball in the earlies was soaked in gambling. 1919 didn’t just spring from the forehead of Hal Chase; all the Ragtime Era ballplayers rose to the top of their sport in a sport that was permeated by game-fixing and game-throwing and players and whole teams laying down if it made money.

    I think that it will take longer for that to happen to professional sport today just because that climate doesn’t exist in MLS (or the NWSL) now. Players and referees in this country don’t accept the influence of gambling as normal or expected.

    But the first time it happens and the player(s) or referee isn’t caught and punished…and then again…and then again…well, it’ll become like doping. If you want to see the ultimate result there, look at professional cycling instead of pre-commissioner baseball.

    If your opponents are doping and getting away with it, and are benefiting from the advantages the doping brings them, in purely business terms you’re not a hero for NOT doping, you’re a chump. What’s your reward outside of personal pride? You’re making a living at sport, and your opponents are cheating and prospering and you’re not…and not. Your reward is only your own self-respect, which with eight bucks will buy you a cup of Starbucks. I happen to think it’s worth it…but in the world we live in, that’s pretty cold comfort.

    Do we really want our sport to become like modern pro cycling or Ragtime Era baseball, corrupt and suspect in every match?

    I hope not.

    But bringing the gamblers inside the clubhouse? That’s a hell of a good way to do it.”

    So…I’m not saying I’m death on the idea that Oregon is trying to make lottery money off sport betting.

    But…I AM saying that it’s worth thinking about what happens if that betting ever actually turns into a large-scale money-risking enterprise.

    1. Our nation’s history with gambling and athletics is different from other places. If you invite it in or not, if people think there is a chance for a profit, or an opportunity to launder money comes to the forefront then you they will seek it out.

      If there is a central agency regulates and tracks the bets then computers can do a very very good job of seeing abnormally high money is bet on a game, or on a player eating a meat pie on television during the game. Computers and other tools available to gambling regulators not available 100 plus years ago.

      Now you can arguing the USA’s unwillingness to fund fed/state agencies will mean there will be no proper oversight and will lead to match fixing running amok. I have no argument against this, and I am wary of what the future holds.

      I only have to say is if you let me bet on professional sports let me bet on Men’s and Women’s Tennis, NBA and WNBA, MLS, and the NWSL etc. they are all professionals sports. I was also hoping to get odds to help with the prediction game in this forum, but first to score or even final score doesn’t seem to be available so less then helpful. This is all I feel like I have to add about gambling. Good luck to the Thorns in a couple hours!

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