Thorns FC

Portland Thorns FC reorganize soccer operations department

Thorns FC name Rob Gale as interim head coach; Mike Norris to serve as technical director; global search for next head coach to begin immediately

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC announced today a reorganization of the club’s soccer operations naming Rob Gale as Interim Head Coach and Mike Norris as Technical Director. The club will conduct a global search for the next head coach of Thorns FC immediately.

“After an in-depth review, we have decided to start to reorganize our soccer operations department to better serve our club and our athletes,” said Karina LeBlanc, General Manager and President of Thorns FC Soccer Operations. “Thorns FC have set the standard for excellence in the league. These changes will help us maximize our strengths as we continuously pursue championship-level success.”

Gale takes over as Thorns FC interim head coach in advance of the Portland Thorns FC vs. Houston Dash fixture at Providence Park this Saturday, April 20 at 7:00pm PT live in ION. Gale joined Thorns FC as an assistant coach prior to the start of the 2023 season. Prior to joining Thorns FC, Gale was with New York City FC as a youth coach in the club’s academy. Gale was the head coach and general manager of Valour FC in the Canadian Premier League from 2018-2021.


Norris moves into the role as technical director after serving as the fifth head coach in Thorns FC history. As technical director, Norris will focus on scouting, talent acquisition and player development. Norris went 10-7-8 in 25 NWSL matches as head coach and was an assistant coach during the club’s NWSL Championship winning campaign in 2022. Prior to his arrival in Portland, Norris spent eight years with Canada Soccer in numerous capacities. From 2019-2021, Norris served as the set play and goalkeeper coach for the Canada Women’s National Team. During that time, Canada won a gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


About Portland Thorns FC

Founded in 2012, Portland Thorns FC have set the standard for fan support and on-field success in women’s soccer since its inaugural 2013 season. One of the world’s most supported women’s soccer clubs, Portland has led the league in attendance for eight seasons and set a new club playoff attendance record last year with 25,218 fans supporting Thorns FC in the 2023 semifinal match at Providence Park.

Thorns FC have won the NWSL Championship a league-record three times (2013, 2017, 2022) and finished as runners-up in 2018. The club has made the postseason a league-high nine times and has won the NWSL Shield in 2016 and 2021.

In January of 2024 the Club was purchased by the Bhathal Family of RAJ Sports, with Lisa Bhathal Merage serving as Governor and Alex Bhathal as Alternate Governor, with Marta Bhathal and Raj Bhathal rounding out the family-led ownership group. The Bhathal family is also Principal Co-Owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, which was recently named NBA Team of the Year in large part due to the team’s positive impact on the local Sacramento community. The Kings parent organization also owns the Sacramento River Cats AAA baseball club, Stockton Kings NBA-G League club, and Kings Guard NBA 2K esports team.