Jamie Goldberg, who covers the Thorns for The Oregonian, says the acquisition of Horan was part of a deal announced weeks ago that sent Alex Morgan from Portland to the Orlando Pride, the new expansion franchise of the National Women’s Soccer League.
“But the process of bringing Horan to Portland evidently took time,” Goldberg writes. Horan has played for Paris Saint Germain since 2012, ” and the Thorns reportedly weren’t sure whether they could convince the striker to leave France” for the NWSL, according to Goldberg.
Horan has done well playing for one of the top women’s clubs in Europe. But the consensus is that her career path has hindered her prospects with the U.S. women’s team. Horan made her third appearance for Team USA against Brazil on Oct. 25.
The women’s season in France runs from September to May. That’s nine months of the year when Horan is unavailable for call-up to a U.S. training camp or roster.
As in football — American football — in women’s soccer the path to the pros is through the college ranks. Being a collegiate standout is the way a player makes herself known to the national team leadership.
Four members of the latest U.S. roster — Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn, Christen Press, and Kelley O’Hara — are former winners of the Hermann Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s top college player.
Four others — Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Lauren Cheney (later Holiday), and Heather O’Reilly — were Hermann Trophy finalists.
Jill Ellis, the U.S. coach, spent 12 years (1999 to 2010) running the UCLA women’s team, where her star recruits included Sydney Leroux and Lauren Holiday. While at UCLA, Ellis also coached in the U.S. youth system — the under-20 and under 21 teams that feed into the national team.
No school has sent more players to Team USA than the one that Horan turned down, the University of North Carolina. Anson Dorrance’s storied program at Chapel Hill, by a huge margin the most successful in women’s collegiate soccer history, launched the careers of, among others, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Tisha Venturini, Cindy Parlow, Cat Reddick, Carla Overbeck, Siri Mullinix, April Heinrichs, Heather O’Reilly, Ashlyn Harris, Tobin Heath, Whitney Engen, Lori Chalupny, Meghan Klingenberg, and Crystal Dunn.
In an interview last year with The New York Times, Ellis acknowledged that as long as Horan chose to stay in Paris, she was putting herself at a disadvantage compared with other young stars who hope to represent the United States in a World Cup or Olympics.
“The amount of time that we’re going to be together in prep for this World Cup is significant,” Ellis said, referring to this summer’s tournament. “… I’m going to need you all the time. I’m going to need to see you.”
The coach added: “Would being here and being able to come in to all our events help her? Yes.”
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