Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Thorns FC defender Nikki Marshall announces retirement

PORTLAND, Ore. — Defender Nikki Marshall today announced her retirement from professional soccer. Marshall retires after playing four professional seasons, including the last two with Portland Thorns FC in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from a lifestyle that has given me so much,” said Marshall. “From the depth of me I would like to thank Thorns FC for the opportunity to be part of something so special. The organization, the city, and the supporters in the Rose City are second to none. I'm grateful to have been a part of this and I will miss it very much. It's been a pleasure.”

In two seasons with the club, Marshall, 26, appeared in a club-record 46 consecutive regular-season matches, playing 3,943 minutes. Marshall helped guide Portland to the 2013 NWSL Championship, featuring in both postseason matches during the team’s inaugural season. In the 2013 NWSL playoff semifinal against FC Kansas City, Marshall recorded the game-tying assist in the 68th minute of a 3-2 win in overtime on Aug. 24, 2013.

“I want to thank Nikki for all her contributions to the club for the past two years,” said Thorns FC general manager Gavin Wilkinson. “A player and person of her quality and caliber will be missed greatly. She represents what it means to be part of the Thorns, both on and off the field.”

The 2014 Thorns FC Defender of the Year, Marshall was one of only three players (Cat Whitehill, Jen Buczkowski) to appear in all 46 NWSL regular-season matches for their respective clubs since the inaugural 2013 season.

“Nikki is one of the finest human beings I've ever met. She is pure class. Her commitment, dedication and resolute personality make her a brilliant teammate, exceptional professional and a fan favorite,” said Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley.

Marshall began her professional career in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) as the seventh overall selection by the Washington Freedom in the 2010 WPS Draft, starting 25 matches during her rookie season. In 2011, Marshall played in six matches for magicJack before being traded to the Boston Breakers, appearing in seven matches with the club.

“In your coaching career there are certain players that make a huge impact on you and Nikki will be one of those in my eyes,” said Riley. “She will go on to be a massive success in her life and I know she will never forget her time in Portland. We will miss her in the locker room, being our defensive general on the field and the never say die attitude that illuminated her entire career.”

On the international level, Marshall was called into training camp with the U.S. Women’s National in 2014 and competed at the youth international level with the U-23 and U-20 U.S. Women’s National Team. In 2011, Marshall was part of the U-23 team that won the Four Nations Tournament, playing in three matches. Marshall started all six matches for the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team at the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, helping lead the team to the title and was named Sierra Mist Woman of the Match in the championship game against North Korea.

A native of Thornton, Colo., Marshall played at the University of Colorado from 2006-2009, and remains the program’s all-time leading goal scorer (42 goals). A four-time first-team all-conference selection, Marshall still holds numerous program records, including career points (93) and game-winning goals (18).