PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC have acquired the rights to Japanese international Hina Sugita through a transfer with INAC Kobe Leonessa in exchange for allocation money, the club announced today. Following the transfer, the midfielder was signed to a three-year contract. She will join the team in Portland and be added to the roster pending the receipt of her P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
“Hina is a player that the club has been pursuing for the last few years, and we are happy to welcome her to Portland,” said Thorns FC general manager Karina LeBlanc. “She is a young talent with international experience and a skillset that strengthens our roster.”
Sugita, 24, has earned 27 caps (19 starts) and scored two goals with the Japan Women’s National Team, featuring at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. A standout with the U-20 and U-17 teams, Sugita helped Japan finish third at the 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup. She played in all six matches and won the Golden Ball as the most valuable player of the tournament. With the U-17s, Sugita played at the 2012 and 2014 U-17 Women’s World Cup. In 2014, she helped guide Japan to a championship title, scoring five goals in five matches to earn Golden Ball honors.
“Hina is a playmaker with the ability to play across multiple positions. She plays with bravery on the ball always looking for opportunities to be dangerous, she sees passes others do not see,” said Thorns FC head coach Rhian Wilkinson. “Her on-field vision, creativity and ball control are traits that allow her to find a way out of tight positions to break open opposing teams.”
At the professional level, Sugita made her debut with Japanese side INAC Kobe Leonessa in 2015. With her club, she was named Best Young Player in 2016 and selected to the Best XI in 2019. During her time with INAC, she helped the team win the Empress Cup twice (2015, 2016) and finish runner-up in the Nadeshiko League Division I four times (2016, 2017, 2018, 2020). The club began its inaugural season in the WE League in 2021 – the new top-flight, professional women’s league in Japan. This season with INAC, Sugita appeared in nine matches (nine starts), tallying one goal, with the team unbeaten to start the season at the top of the table.
Birthdate: Jan. 31, 1997
Previous Club: INAC Kobe Leonessa