For the love of rivalry and rain, Long happily arrives in Portland
With a dad who played rugby and a soccer-playing mom, Thorns FC midfielder Allie Long was raised in an athletic environment, surrounded by sports and competition, but she really never expected to end up playing professionally, or leave the East Coast.
After playing two seasons at Penn State (2005-06), Long moved down the coast, transferring to national powerhouse North Carolina to help further her soccer career. It was during her senior year at North Carolina that witnessed the start of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), the country’s second attempt to create a sustainable professional women’s soccer league.
Despite the potential opportunity to play professionally, Long initially did not plan to attend the open combine, but North Carolina head coach Anson Dorrance, a very prominent and well-regarded figure in coaching circles, saw her potential, and with his encouragement, Long attended the combine.
“Whatever happens, happens. It’s not in my control,” Long said, remembering her feelings entering the showcase event.
WATCH: Allie Long talks about team coming together
After performing well in the combine, Long was drafted by the Washington Freedom with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 WPS Draft, much to her surprise.
“I was so happy and excited,” she said. “Whether I got drafted last or first it didn’t matter, but the fact that I was a first round pick was an eye opener.”
At that moment, Long finally realized that playing professionally was a reality.
Since then, the Long Island native has played professionally with New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC (WPS) and a short stint overseas to play with Paris Saint-Germain of France’s Division 1 Féminine. After a five-month stay in the City of Light, Long returned to the states in March 2012 to join the New York Fury of the semi-professional WPSL Elite, appearing in a handful of games before rumors of the new National Women’s Soccer League started swirling.
Long now finds herself across the country in the Rose City, set to hit the ground running with Thorns FC for the 2013 NWSL season. Despite having only been in town for three weeks, Long is embracing the smaller city, rain and has come to know the Northwest rivalry between Seattle and Portland.
“I wanted something totally different,” Long said. “I’ve been on the East Coast and lived in New York my whole life. Last year, I went to France and that definitely helped me grow and mature as a person and a player so I think that prepared me.
“Even though I still love my family and miss them every day I’m here, I know that my goals and what I want to become as an athlete and for my future it was the best decision to play for this organization, and this team and for Cindy,” she added. “I kind of sacrificed that to come here and pursue what my dreams and my goals are as a person.”
One of Long’s goals includes playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.
“I can’t wait for the World Cup and then the Olympics, and hopefully I’ll be playing. It is a goal of mine to be on the national team,” said Long, who has previously played for the U.S. Women’s U-20 National Team in 2006.
Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone feels that Long’s ability both physically and mentally is a crucial addition to the club.
“Allie is a great addition to Portland Thorns FC as she brings with her a wealth of experience and a level of professionalism that will be crucial to the team,” Cone said. “She’s very clean technically, and she also has a tremendous understanding of all the nuances of the game.”
With several weeks of training under her belt with Thorns FC, Long is eager for the team’s season-opening game at FC Kansas City on April 13 not to mention the Cascadia rival Seattle Reign for the team’s home opener on April 21.
“I love that there already is a rivalry,” Long said.
Now settled into her new city with her new teammates, Long is excited for the upcoming season and the opportunity to experience the soccer rivalry that envelopes the Northwest.