PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC today announced that the club has signed Finnish international defender Natalia Kuikka to a two-year deal, beginning with the 2021 NWSL season. She will be added to the roster pending the receipt of her P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
“Natalia is a key acquisition we believe strengthens this team in several areas as we look ahead and prepare for the 2021 season,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Thorns FC general manager and president of soccer. “She is a versatile, quality, athletic player we have followed for several years and we’re delighted to finally bring her to Portland.”
Following a standout collegiate career at Florida State from 2015-18, Kuikka, 24, signed with Damallsvenskan side Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC of the Swedish first division. Across all-competitions with Göteborg FC, Kuikka has appeared in 45 matches, tallying six goals. This season, Göteborg FC currently sits atop the Damallsvenskan standings and Kuikka has played in all 19 matches, scoring four goals. In 2019, she helped Göteborg FC finish runner-up in the league, appearing in 19 matches.
“Natalia is a modern, ball-playing defender with a great range of passing, who also has the characteristics of a no-nonsense defender who loves to defend,” said Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons. “Her character and team-first attitude will add to the strength of our locker room.”
At the international level, Kuikka has earned 52 international caps, tallying three goals with the Finland Women’s National Team and was named the Finland Women’s Player of the Year in 2017. She featured at the 2013 UEFA Women’s Championship, playing in all three matches of the group stage and also played in the 2014 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
At Florida State, Kuikka appeared in 79 matches (78 starts), recording nine goals and 11 assists. During her season senior in 2018, Kuikka helped guide the Seminoles to a National Championship and was named to the College Cup All-Tournament Team, while also earning United Soccer Coaches All-American Second Team honors, All-Atlantic Region First Team accolades and All-ACC Second Team recognition. In four seasons, Kuikka earned All-American honors twice (2016, 2018), was named All-ACC three times (2016, 2017, 2018) and garnered All-Region accolades three times (2016, 2017, 2018).
Born: Dec. 1, 1995
Hometown: Kemi, Finland
Last Club: Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC (Sweden)
College: Florida State