Thorns FC

Portland Thorns FC sign 2024 first-round draft pick Payton Linnehan

Linnehan, the 11th overall selection in the 2024 NWSL Draft, has agreed to a two-year contract with a mutual third-year option

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC announced today the club has signed forward Payton Linnehan. Linnehan, the 11th overall selection in the 2024 NWSL Draft, has agreed to a two-year contract with a mutual third-year option.

"We drafted Payton in the first round because of the potential we saw in her based on her performance at the collegiate level," General Manager and President of Soccer Operations Karina LeBlanc said. "After having her with the team these past few weeks it’s been exciting to see how seamlessly she fits in with our group and our culture and we look forward to seeing what she will bring on and off the field."

Linnehan, 22, joins Portland after spending five years at Penn State, where she recorded 34 goals and 20 assists in 90 appearances for the Nittany Lions. This past year she led Penn State with 10 goals, including a hat-trick against Central Connecticut State, as well as contributing four assists. Five of her goals came in the postseason, including a stoppage-time game winner against Saint Louis in the 2023 NCAA College Cup Round of 16 to propel her squad to the Elite Eight.

“Payton has had a positive impact on our environment since she stepped into it, she is hard working, takes care of her body and preparation, along with being incredibly dedicated to getting better,” Head Coach Mike Norris said. “We feel her athleticism and mindset to go forward are a great fit for us and we are super excited to add her to our Thorns family and look forward to seeing her shine.”

The forward becomes the sixth Nittany Lion to play for the Portland Thorns, among which currently includes midfielder Sam Coffey. Linnehan leaves Penn State as just the fourth Nittany Lion to score multiple hat tricks in a career.

Linnehan has spent extensive time within the U.S. Youth National Team system. In 2016 she helped the U-15 USYNT win the 2016 CONCACAF U-15 Championship, where she scored eight goals to win the tournament’s Golden Boot award. She went on to represent the United States at the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, and has been part of the U.S. U-23 roster where she competed in the Thorns FC invitational during last year’s preseason.

The Thorns will begin the National Women’s Soccer League regular season on March 16 against Kansas City Current at CPKC Stadium before returning to Providence Park on March 24 for the home opener against NJ/NY Gotham FC, tickets for which are on sale now.