The Finnish international extended her contract with Portland in a one-year deal
Portland Thorns FC have signed defender Natalia Kuikka to a one-year deal, the club announced today. The extension puts the Finnish international with Portland through the 2023 season.
Kuikka, 26, joined Thorns FC ahead of the 2021 season on a two-year contract. Since then, Kuikka has made 49 appearances (40 starts), tallying two goals and three assists across all competitions for Portland. She’s helped Thorns FC claim three titles during her time in Portland—the 2021 Challenge Cup, the 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup and the 2021 NWSL Shield. Notably, Kuikka leads the team in interceptions (56) and tackles won (59) dating back to the start of the 2021 season.
“We’re really excited by Natu’s contract extension and keeping her in Portland. She brings so much experience from the club and international levels and has proven to be one of the best outside backs in this league,” Thorns FC general manager Karina LeBlanc said. “Her contributions are crucial to the makeup of this team.”
In the 2022 campaign, Kuikka has played in 16 matches, recording one goal and one assist. Her goal against Orlando on June 19, 2022, marked her first for Thorns FC in NWSL competition, while her lone assist this season led to the game-tying goal against the Washington Spirit on May 18, 2022.
“Natu is an electric player who always gives it her all and contributes so much on both ends of the field for us,” shared Thorns FC head coach Rhian Wilkinson. “We’re very fortunate to have her coming back for another season in Portland.”
Finland’s three-time National Player of the Year (2017, 2020, 2021) and captain, Kuikka has earned 73 international caps, tallying three goals with the Finland Women’s National Team. Recently, she helped Finland reach their first UEFA European Women’s Championship appearance since 2013 in the 2022 EUROs, where she made three appearances in the group stage. Kuikka participated in all eight of Finland’s qualifying matches for the tournament, recording one goal and helping Helmarit to six shutout wins in the lead up to the tournament.
The Florida State grad signed with Damallsvenskan side Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC of the Swedish first division in 2019, who she competed with through 2020. Across all-competitions with Göteborg FC, Kuikka appeared in 45 matches, tallying six goals. At Florida State (2015-2018), 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.