PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC's latest signing has arrived.
French international midfielder Amandine Henry arrived in Portland this past weekend and is ready to join her new teammates ahead of Friday's clash with the Western New York Flash (4pm PT, WEBSTREAM).
Henry, 26, joins the Thorns after having spent the previous nine seasons with French club Olympique Lyonnais in the D1 Féminine. Late last month, in her final appearance for the club, the talented two-way midfielder won her third European Championship with OL after a penalty-kick shootout victory over Germany's Wolfsburg.
“To finish my time [in Lyon] with the championship was really a nice way to end my season there,” Henry said through a translator on Monday. “Now I'm moving on and ready to take on the next challenge here in Portland.”
First, Henry will have to integrate into an undefeated (3-0-5) Thorns FC roster that currently sits tied for third in the NWSL table with 14 points. A player of Henry's caliber however – she won the Silver Ball, awarded to the tournament's second-best player, at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup – will only help the Thorns in their push for a second NWSL Championship in team history.
“My professional objective is to bring a championship to Portland,” said Henry. “Hopefully, we will all learn from each other in the process.”
Henry joins a cadre of European talent in the NWSL, including Scotland's Kim Little and Wales' Jess Fishlock, that have had a major impact on the league. Henry, however, represents perhaps the highest-profile international signing in the league's young history.
For Henry, though, the move to Portland feels like the natural next step in her career as she tries to take her game to another level.
“[I was attracted to the U.S.] due to the great competition,” she said, noting that in France there are only two competitive women's clubs. “The USA has a great [national] team was a World Cup finalist and is a champion. I was very interested to discover the culture and work ethic of the American players.”
So when Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons first reached out to Henry earlier this year, the French international was thrilled at the possibility of coming to play in the most competitive women's league in the world.
“I was smiling a lot,” she said. “It was a very nice, pleasant surprise – especially coming from Portland – that they really wanted me to play here. I was extremely happy; it’s a dream for me to play in the United States.”
Citing the team's vocal fan base, large crowds, and organizational infrastructure, Henry explained that Portland was always her top American destination.
“I have received a lot of contacts and e-mails already from Thorns fans,” she said. “I'm excited about the warm welcome and that everyone is excited for me to be here. I hope to give my maximum effort to help this city win a championship.”
And so far, Henry says, the club and the city have more than exceeded her expectations.
“It's amazing!” she said when asked about her early impressions of Portland and the Thorns. “The organization is big. The welcome from everyone is great. The stadium is great. Everything is beautiful.”