PORTLAND, Ore. – As part of the National Team player allocation process for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Portland Thorns FC have received U.S. Women’s National Team forward and 2012 Ballon d’Or finalist Alex Morgan, former University of Portland forward Christine Sinclair (Canada), midfielder Tobin Heath (USA), defender Rachel Buehler (USA), goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc (Canada), defender Luz Saucedo (Mexico) and defender Marlene Sandoval (Mexico). U.S. Soccer made the announcement.
All three of the U.S. Women’s National Team players allocated to Thorns FC featured prominently in the United States’ run to a third straight Olympic gold medal, and fourth overall, during the London 2012 Olympics.
“We are thrilled with today’s allocation, and I see this group of seven players as a terrific foundation for this club,” said Cindy Parlow Cone, head coach of Thorns FC. “This group has a wealth of quality, international experience, and we are excited to build around them to put together a competitive and entertaining club in our first season.”
One of the premier forwards in women’s soccer, Morgan burst onto the scene as a go-to substitute for the United States during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and followed that up with a breakout performance during the London 2012 Olympics, helping the USA earn its fourth gold medal overall in the sport.
Morgan, 23, was selected as U.S. Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2012 leading all U.S. scorers with 28 goals and a team-high 21 assists and becoming just the second player after Mia Hamm to record 20 goals and 20 assists in a calendar year. Already ranking 12th on the all-time goal scoring list for the United States (38 goals in 58 appearances), the native of Diamond Bar, Calif., scored three times during the London Olympics, including the latest goal ever scored in a FIFA competition when she headed in the game-winning goal in the 123rd minute of the USA’s dramatic 4-3 comeback win against Canada in the semifinal round, helping lead the U.S. to the gold medal match against Japan.
A standout youth player for the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team in 2008, the University of California-Berkeley graduate stepped into the fray for the senior team during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, coming off the bench in five of her six matches and scoring the clinching goal in a 3-1 win against France in the semifinal. Morgan also registered the opening goal against Japan in the final, a heartbreaking penalty kick loss for the United States.
Morgan has played two international friendlies at JELD-WEN Field with the United States, scoring a first-half hat trick on Nov. 28, 2012, in a 5-0 win against the Republic of Ireland. She also added a goal in her first appearance in Portland, tallying the third goal in a 3-0 win against Canada on Sept. 22, 2011.
Sinclair, a two-time NCAA National Champion with the University of Portland (2002, 2005) and the niece of two former NASL-era Portland Timbers players, Bruce and Brian Gant, currently ranks in third place on the all-time international goal-scoring list for women’s soccer with 143 goals in 190 appearances for Canada trailing only Mia Hamm (158) and Abby Wambach (152).
Widely recognized as one of the top forwards in women’s soccer, Sinclair recently helped lead Canada to a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, finishing as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals including a hat trick against the United States on Aug. 6, 2012, in a dramatic 4-3 semifinal loss.
Since earning her first senior cap for Canada as a 16-year-old against China PR in March 2000, Sinclair has gone on to represent her country at three FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments (2003, 2007, 2011) and two Olympic Games (2008, 2012) while fast becoming the team’s main offensive threat, recording 15 goals in 18 games during her first year on the team. In 2012, the native of Burnaby, British Columbia, set a career high with 23 goals in 22 games.
During her club career, the 10-time Canadian Player of the Year honoree helped several sides win league championships, including the Vancouver Whitecaps Women (USL W-League, 2006), FC Gold Pride (WPS, 2010) and the Western New York Flash (WPS, 2011).
Buehler, 27, has a wealth of international experience as a defender with 98 caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team. The native of Del Mar, Calif., has appeared in 50 of the team’s 52 matches during the last two years. A three-year captain for Stanford where she graduated pre-med with a degree in human biology, Buehler earned extensive experience with U.S. youth national teams until breaking into the senior team in 2008.
The defender had her best offensive year on record in 2012, scoring one goal and adding a career-high four assists in 31 matches.
Heath, 24, is regarded as one of the most technically skilled midfielders on the U.S. Women’s National Team. Earning 60 caps to date with the United States, the native of Basking Ridge, N.J., has developed into a starter and key substitute during the last four years. Appearing in all six matches (4 starts) at the London 2012 Olympics, the former University of North Carolina midfielder tallied three assists in her second major international tournament at the senior level. In 2011, Heath made four substitute appearances for her country during the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Selected as the 2009 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year, Heath earned her first cap on Jan. 18, 2008, against Finland and became the youngest player named to the Beijing 2008 Olympics gold medal-winning roster.
LeBlanc, 32, has made 103 appearances as a goalkeeper for Canada and helped guide the team to a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, LeBlanc made one start for Canada during the Olympics, making five saves and recording a shutout as Canada won its opening game of the tournament 3-0 against South Africa.
Professional, LeBlanc has played for several clubs in the United States, most recently with magicJack in the WPS during the 2011 season.
Sandoval, 28, served as a backup defender for Mexico during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and is a veteran of World Cup qualifying campaigns in 2003 and 2007, as well as making three appearances during the Athens 2004 Olympics.
A native of Placentia, Calif., Sandoval graduated from Cal-State Fullerton, where she earned NSCAA Second-Team All-American honors as a senior in 2005.
Saucedo, 27, was a starter for Mexico during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, appearing in all three matches (2 starts) for her country. The native of Canatlán, Mexico, has a lengthy track record for Mexico with more than 50 caps. Following the World Cup, Saucedo helped Mexico earn a bronze medal at the 2011 Pan-American Games.
Born: Aug. 26, 1985, in La Jolla, Calif.
Hometown: Del Mar, Calif.
Last Club: Boston Breakers
Born: May 29, 1988, in Morrison, N.J.
Hometown: Basking Ridge, N.J.
Last Club: New York Fury
College: North Carolina
Born: March 30, 1980, in Atlanta, Georgia
Hometown: Maple Ridge, British Columbia
Last Club: magicJack
Born: July 2, 1989, in San Dimas, Calif.
Hometown: Diamond Bar, Calif.
Last Club: Seattle Sounders Women
Full name: Rubi Marlene Sandoval Nungaray
Born: Jan. 18, 1984, in Santa Ana, Calif.
Hometown: Placentia, Calif.
Last Club: n/a
College: Cal-State Fullerton
Full name: Luz del Rosario Saucedo Soto
Pronunciation: loos saw-SAY-doh
Born: Dec. 14, 1983, in Canatlán, Mexico
Hometown: Canatlán, Mexico
Last Club: n/a
Born: June 12, 1983, in Burnaby, British Columbia
Hometown: Burnaby, British Columbia
Last Club: Western New York Flash