Busy week culminates with even busier NWSL College Draft for Mark Parsons, Thorns FC

Portland Thorns FC have had a very busy week.

Only days after acquiring dynamic midfielder Lindsey Horan through U.S. Women's National Team allocation, the Thorns stayed very active during the 2016 NWSL College Draft in Baltimore, pulling off two separate trades and selecting two new players.

Coming in to the day with the first and second overall picks in their possession, they traded the second overall pick to Sky Blue FC to acquire forward and Danish international Nadia Nadim along with the third overall pick.

Once they were on the clock in the draft with the first pick, they quickly snapped up University of Virginia defender Emily Sonnett who is currently training with the USWNT in their January camp. Moments later, Portland shipped the third overall pick to the Boston Breakers to rocket back to the top of the allocation rankings—a new player acquisition process that was updated by the league and U.S. Soccer on Friday.

Then in the third round, the Thorns selected another defender in McKenzie Berryhill from Arizona State giving them three different players and a valuable allocation spot to round out the day’s work.

“To come out of a draft with a couple of very talented young players in Emily and McKenzie and to get the allocation is a special thing,” said Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons after the draft. “And then there’s Nadia Nadim, a proven, experienced, world-class forward who is a talent.

“I think everyone in the league would want Nadia in their starting lineup. She fits what we’re all about. In the sense of her passion, her work ethic and her desire to be the best the player she can. It’s rare to get a player on draft day of that quality.”

With Sonnett, the Thorns took a player that many prognosticators tabbed as the consensus top pick coming into the draft. A four-year starter at the University of Virginia, she was also a mainstay in the U.S. youth national team set up. A tenacious defender who was the core of the Cavaliers backline, Parsons is confident she’ll be a strong player for the Thorns.

“She’s the best player in the country and with her character and mindset and talent—Emily is the full package,” he said. “She’s also a very tough, hard-nosed working player who won’t give anyone a millimeter to breathe. This is a fantastic player that doesn’t have a lot of faults.”

In the third round with the 21st overall pick, Portland grabbed another defender in Berryhill. The 2014 Pac-12 First Team selection was a four-year starter in Tempe.

“I think she is, in a similar sense [to Emily], a very technical player who loves the ball,” said Parsons. “It’s a defender that ticks the things that we’re all about. McKenize is a young player that we’d love to see, given time, improve and hopefully, she makes the most of that.”

The day was also a continuation of the Thorns very busy offseason that has seen GM Gavin Wilkinson and Parsons acquire U.S. international defender Meghan Klingenberg, midfielder and Icelandic international Dagny Brynjarsdottir and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. Both Klingenberg and Franch are currently training at the USWNT camp.

“Today was a fantastic day and it puts us in a great position,” he said. “We’re now very close to finishing the group and it puts us in a great position heading into preseason. “

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