On Wednesday, Portland Thorns FC announced the signing of French international midfielder Amandine Henry.
Henry brings with her a stellar international pedigree that includes winning the Silver Ball at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup (awarded to the second-best player in the tournament), making appearances in three consecutive UEFA Women's Champions League finals between 2011 and 2013, and finishing second in voting for the 2015 UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe Award.
“She's very excited to play for this football club in this city and in this country,” said Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons. “She wants to be the best player in the world. I think she's there. I think she feels being in a highly competitive environment every day is going to take her to another level.”
The native of Lille, France also brings ample club experience. Beginning in 2007, Henry has made over 120 appearances for French women's soccer power Olympique Lyon.
According to Parsons, though, Henry is no ordinary signing, either for the Thorns or for the NWSL.
“There are special players that you can put into a team that can win you a game with a goal,” he said. “They can make you more dangerous. They can make you more safe and secure in the back. Then there are players who change teams. This player changes your team. You drop her into any team in the world, she changes your whole team.”
“She can go box to box,” Parsons added. “She can break up plays. She can pass. She can shoot. She communicates. She organizes. She's a midfield general who adds a percentage to every player who's around her. Incredibly intelligent, smart, and creative, and makes things look very easy.”
The move, however, won't only benefit the Thorns.
Parsons believes that Henry herself will benefit, learning the training techniques and mental exercises that have helped make the Americans three-time world champions.
“If I were a foreign player, I would want to go and understand what makes the Americans so special and go there and experience that and take the qualities they have and add them to my game.” he said.
“I think Amandine is going to see a work ethic and mentality every day at training from our Americans here that is going to help her.”
- WATCH: Amandine Henry highlights
Thorns FC goalkeeping coach Nadine Angerer, a former World Cup champion with Germany and FIFA World Player of the Year, echoed Parsons's sentiment, pointing out that both European and American players have much to learn from one another.
“I think all players from different countries bring another impact into the league,” Angerer said. “The Americans are used to their style of playing soccer. The Europeans have a different style….We, from Europe, can learn from American soccer, but also American soccer can learn from European soccer. [Signing players like Henry] is good for the league to improve, but also for the players to improve.”
Henry will add a different dimension to this Thorns team that, with the addition of other outstanding talents, both American and European, will form the spine of a team that Parsons hopes will contend for trophies for years to come.
“I want a team that can play, that's intelligent and smart,” said Parsons, before mentioning several Thorns players by name, including Henry. “These are players that are just in the….center of your team that make you smarter, make you intelligent.
“You keep all these other qualities that make you so hard to play against and then you have brains that make you exciting to watch.”