McCall Zerboni, Thorns training, 3.9.15
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Thorns FC's McCall Zerboni ready to lead: "The expectation is to win"

PORTLAND, Ore. - Last November, McCall Zerboni received a phone call that would send her from one side of the country to the other.

Zerboni, who had spent the previous four years in Rochester, N.Y., with the Western New York Flash, discovered that she had been traded, along with Flash teammate Kat Williamson, to Portland Thorns FC.

"You want to stay on your toes and be ready for anything," Zerboni said. "When I got the call, I was excited. I don't want to say I was shocked. I was just excited it was Portland and I was coming out west."

It turns out that the call came at just the right time.

"I think it's a good time in my career to switch it up and maybe spark me and challenge me in different ways," she said. "I'm really excited about this time in my career to go in a different direction."

In her four years with the Flash, Zerboni scored four goals, but three of those goals came last season, a career year for Zerboni, in which she made 24 appearances for the Flash and played over 2,000 minutes.

"I might be more of an attacking role [here] and lead the team up front a little bit more than maybe my roles in the past, when I've kind of stayed behind," she said. "I'm looking to score some goals and looking to be an offensive threat."

Zerboni knows that in a Women’s World Cup year, when a number of Thorns players will be competing in Canada on international duty, it will be up to the veteran players like her to play a role leading the team by example and pushing the other players towards the NWSL playoffs.

"I always place high expectations on myself, and on the team," she said. "You start with one step at a time, but obviously we all want to win the championship. The expectation is to win, to bring the trophy to Portland."

Now entering her seventh season as a professional, Zerboni knows what it will take for the Thorns to make a championship run, having played against her new team in the 2013 NWSL Championship and having won the 2011 WPS Championship on penalty kicks with Western New York.

"Portland's been really good to me so far," she said of her new surroundings. "I've met a lot of really cool people and everyone on the staff and on the team just seem to be awesome people."

While she's found a few spots around town that she really likes, she says that she's still exploring, learning new things about Portland every day.

Most importantly, though, the city and the team have more than met her lofty expectations.

"I'd heard nothing but good things about the Thorns organization," she said. "I was super pumped to come here and find out for myself. So far, it's been even more than I once thought."

In Zerboni's mind, all of this adds up to one thing.

"I think it's going to turn out to be an awesome season for us."