Portland Thorns FC right back Ellie Carpenter just finished a standout season on loan in Australia, helping her new team, Melbourne City, to a W-League title with a 1-0 victory on Saturday over Sydney FC. Combined with helping her national team secure a return to the Summer Olympics, Carpenter has enjoyed one of the most successful NWSL offseasons of her career, with the two-goal game she posted on February 20 against the Western Sydney Wanderers adding an individual highlight to her team accomplishments.
Ahead of last weekend’s W-League Grand Final, we caught up with Carpenter on FaceTime, and while a windy Melbourne day rendered the audio from that recording unusable, her answers still give us some insight into what the Australian summer has been like for the Thorns star.
ThornsFC.com: To start, can you give us an update on how your last – what’s it been? – six months have gone? Basically, since we last saw you here in October.
Carpenter: It’s been quite busy. Obviously, I’ve moved to a new city here in Australia, to Melbourne. I’ve had a good season here with Melbourne City. Qualified for the Olympics with the Matildas, also. It’s been a couple of exciting months.
T: It’s your first year with a new team in the W-League. You were originally with Western Sydney and spent the last two years with Canberra [United]. How was the transition to a new club?
C: I guess it was a really easy decision for me to come to Melbourne. It’s the most professional club in the W-League, with world-class players, as well. I knew I was going into a great environment. It’s been a really great season, and I’ve really enjoyed playing alongside some really great players. I’ve been enjoying myself, being happy – just expressing myself on the field.
T: What would you say is the most important thing that has happened to you away from the field in the last six months?
C: I don’t know, actually. That’s a hard question. I guess living in a new city, and being here with new teammates, and everything. Just being really relaxed. I’m really lucky to have this mindset. Being happy really helps be on the field, and the past six months, I think I’ve grown as a player and a person, as well. I’m really happy with where I’m at, right now.
T: You’ve mentioned it: new city. What are three things people from the States need to know about life in Melbourne?
C: Wanderers was obviously western Sydney. There wasn’t too much to do out there. Canberra is kind of in the middle of nowhere. Melbourne is a city like Sydney. Melbourne actually reminds me a lot of Portland.
T: Wait. Isn’t Melbourne huge? Doesn’t have a lot more people?
C: It is bigger, but it reminds me a little bit of Portland. Just the buildings and the city’s downtown area. The coffee and the food here is amazing, probably the best in Australia. The cafe and restaurant scene is certainly something I like about Melbourne, and that’s what’s kind of like Portland, for me. We have a great restaurant scene in Portland, as well. And the weather here is not too hot. It’s hot, but not as hot as Sydney. I like that as well. We still have beautiful beaches.
T: While you were gone, some news came out. You’ve signed a contract extension with the Thorns – a pretty big decision. What was the mindset for you, wanting to sign a new deal in Portland?
C: I think it’s just about doing what’s best for my development, at the moment. I felt like heading back to the Thorns is what’s best for me at this time, at this point of my career. It brings out the best in me, and it’s a platform where I can grow, as well, with great players around me.
T: When you come back, you’ll have Becky Sauerbrunn in defense to your left, Rocky Rodriguez in midfield in front of you. There are also new names in attack, but those two veteran additions: What were you thinking as those deals were announced?
C: Just that it’s amazing that we’ve got those two quality players in our squad. I can’t wait to train and be on the field with them soon, and to learn from each of them, as a player.
T: And hopefully, if all goes well, be on the field with them sooner rather than later.
C: I can’t wait to hopefully get over there soon, if I can, and hopefully see all you guys soon.