PORTLAND, Ore. – Nikki Marshall has returned to the Thorns.
The 25 year-old defender, Portland’s starting left back during their 2013 Championship run, was acquired from Cascadia rival Seattle Reign, along the #9 pick in the 2014 College Draft, in exchange for the #6 pick and a 2015 second round draft pick.
“We are very pleased to be able to bring Nikki back to the club,” said general manager Gavin Wilkinson in a press release. “Parting ways after last season was a difficult decision based on salary cap considerations, and we are excited that she will be rejoining the Thorns for 2014.”
Marshall started 22 matches last season for the Thorns at right back and center back, only one of three players to start every match for the Thorns, but she was waived September 6 and picked up by the Washington Spirit, who later traded her to the Thorns.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to be back in Portland, it was such a great experience for me,” said Marshall. “I’m even more excited play under Paul Riley. Paul and I have had conversations about me playing for him in the past and I’ve always wanted to play for him. I feel like he believes in me as a player, based upon our past conversations and experiences, so I’m thrilled for that opportunity. With Paul and the talent we have on this team, I think we can achieve big things this season.”
The acquisition of Marshall appears to be the first of many moves for the Thorns. In his opening press conference as head coach of the Thorns, Riley indicated that changes where coming.
The first of those players appears to be midfielder Amber Brooks, whom the Thorns selected as the 24th pick in the 2013 NWSL College Draft, but elected to continue to play with German side Bayern Munich. However, Brooks looks to be heading back to the United States and Portland, according to a report out of Germany.
Brooks has represented the United States at the U-17, U-20, and U-23 level, and recently made her debut for the senior national team, playing 81 minutes in a friendly against Brazil on November 10.
Riley also appears to be looking abroad, according to a report from Big Apple Soccer, where he is quoted as saying, “I’d like to bring a player in from abroad, maybe two players in from abroad. Obviously we are under a cap situation and contract situations around. We need to try to get through it and see what’s available. I’ve pretty much kept up with all the players in Europe, South America and everywhere else. There’s definitely a few targets. I am sure you know one of them, that’s going to be a target we are going to go after.”
While it has been a relatively quiet offseason for the Thorns, that appears to be changing quickly.
More to come as it develops…