Another FIFA international window is almost here, which for Thorns FC means that several players are about to join their respective national teams all over the globe to compete in international competition.
While Portland has historically had several players called up to represent the United States and Canada, there is also a long list of players who have represented other nations. That’s why this Thorns Honoring 10 will look at 10 players, both past and present, who have played for countries outside of North America.
From Ellie Carpenter to Hina Sugita, here are just a few internationals who have represented Portland on the global stage.
This list is not a ranking and isn’t based off pure statistics, instead these are just 10 of many notable internationals who have played for the Thorns.
Amandine Henry (France)
Amandine Henry took the field for the 2017 NWSL Championship, her final match as a Thorn, with two words etched on her stomach: “Thorns forever.”
One of the highest-profile internationals to ply her trade in Portland, Henry was an integral piece of Les Bleues’ midfield before arriving in the Rose City. While her first time playing outside of Europe, Henry fit like a glove into coach Mark Parson’s system.
Henry scored just three goals in 33 total matches from her role deep in midfield, but a lot of what she did flew under the radar. Her passing as well as ball-winning ability added a different dimension to a club that finished on 47 points that season.
Not many players can leave a club on the highest note, especially considering there is one league trophy, but Henry did just that and the message left on her stomach stands as a lasting memory of two high-achieving seasons in the Pacific Northwest.
Ellie Carpenter (Australia)
In 2018, Ellie Carpenter arrived in Portland as a young 17-year-old filled with potential, just trying to break into the Thorns and the Australia Women's National Team squad. She left for Olympique Lyon in 2020 as a solid starter at outside back for both club and country, and a lot of that growth came in Portland.
One of the Thorns’ quickest players from day one, Carpenter’s speed allowed Parsons to take some risks on her side of the field, knowing that she could both play a role in attack and recover defensively when things went wrong.
Carpenter scored her only goal in May 2018 against the Washington Spirit, becoming the youngest goal scorer in league history at the time. While she left for France shortly after her 20th birthday, the impact Carpenter made in Portland was notable.
Others have come to Portland in their prime, but Carpenter is an example of someone who arrived in the United States as a young adult from Australia and grew quickly over a short time. Today she’s a European champion, but first Carpenter had to develop, and she did so in Portland.
Nadia Nadim (Denmark)
Like several other internationals, Nadia Nadim’s stint in Portland was short, but she made the most of her time with the club.
A pure striker, Nadim finished with 15 goals and played a role in the Thorns’ 2016 NWSL Shield-winning campaign as well as the club’s 2017 NWSL title-winning season. With several players away competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Nadim stepped up to help the Thorns maintain their place in the NWSL table during that time.
The Dane eventually left Portland to play in Europe for a few seasons, but the role she played on some of the Thorns’ most successful teams won’t soon be forgotten. A high-level goal scorer, Nadim provided a significant boost for Portland during a time they needed it and helped the club maintain its winning ways in the process.
Nadine Angerer (Germany)
A German goalkeeping legend, Nadine Angerer’s international track record speaks for itself. Two-time Women's World Cup champion, 146 caps, five-time UEFA Women’s Championship winner and was also named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2014.
To put her Portland playing career in perspective, she played just 28 matches for the club over two seasons. However, she has also been arguably the club’s most important international signing. A goalkeeping coach since her retirement in 2015, Angerer has stuck around in Portland to train a stable of talented goalkeepers that has included Adrianna Franch, Britt Eckerstrom and now Bella Bixby, Abby Smith and Shelby Hogan.
Even after Portland’s offseason coaching change, Angerer has stuck around. A much-loved presence on the team, the club’s decision to ink the record-setting keeper midway through the 2010’s served as one of its best moves of all time.
Verónica Boquete (Spain)
While only in the NWSL for the 2014 season, Boquete made her mark with four goals and six assists over the course of 15 games.
Then a captain for La Roja, Boquete was often involved in the Thorns' best attacking moments, helping things click from a central position. A wizard with the ball at her feet, Boquete's time in Portland was on the shorter end, but she brought a level of talent that helped lift the club and set the tone for the eventual international transfers to come.
Hayley Raso (Australia)
Another young Australian in search of more playing time and a chance to prove herself, Hayley Raso broke through as a professional during her time in Portland.
Waived by the Washington Spirit in 2016, Parsons, her former coach, took a chance on bringing her to the Rose City. Over the next few years, Raso transitioned into a super-sub before becoming a consistent starter.
The Australian finished with 12 goals, including one in the playoffs, but was also known for her willingness to press and relentless energy. She quickly became a fan favorite, garnering her own chant and winning the Rose City Riveters Player of the Year Award in 2017.
When she first arrived in Portland, Raso was searching for a lifeline in the NWSL. Since then, she broke out as a young talent for both the Thorns and Australia and eventually moved to Europe, all while helping the Thorns win at the highest level.
Dagny Brynjarsdottir (Iceland)
Like Henry, Dagny Brynjarssdottir is another player who arrived in Portland after establishing herself with her respective national team.
The Iceland midfielder made 53 appearances for the Thorns between 2016 and 2019, scoring six goals in the process.
With Iceland not competing in the 2016 Olympics, Brynarsdottir played a significant role for the Thorns during a summer in which many players weren’t available. She left the club in 2019 to return to Iceland, but left her mark on the city in the process.
Natalia Kuikka (Finland)
One of Portland’s most consistent contributors since signing with the club in 2020, Natalia Kuikka is set to join Finland in England to compete in the UEFA Women’s European Championships.
Most often employed on the right side of the Thorn’s defense as an outside back, Kuikka is a player opposing coaches must plan around, especially with her ability to shut down opposing attackers in one-on-one situations.
Kuikka is also a dangerous attacker and isn’t shy with the ball at her feet in the final third, either to set up a teammate or take on an opposing outside back herself. A reliable defender with a multi-faceted skillset, Kuikka often makes an impact in every game she plays in and will be missed while she competes in Europe.
Hina Sugita (Japan)
Portland’s latest international arrival, Hina Sugita has already settled in nicely with the Thorns. A midfielder capable of shuttling the ball between the defense and attack with ease, Sugita has proven crucial connecting all parts of the Thorns’ lineup.
Sugita is also as reliable as it gets when it comes to contributing goals from midfield. She scored a brace in Portland’s Apr. 17 Challenge Cup match against the San Diego Wave and already has a goal to her name in the regular season.
She will play with Japan this international window before returning to Portland, where it’s expected she continues to play a large role in coach Rhian Wilkinson’s setup.
Rocky Rodriguez (Costa Rica)
Rocky Rodriguez has been another consistent contributor in the Thorns’ midfield since arriving in Portland ahead of the 2020 season.
Like Sugita, her ability to shuttle the ball between lines and play passes into the attack has helped Portland open its offense when everything is clicking. A trusted option in midfield, Rodriguez has been consistent for both club and country and is still continuing to develop. She was also a big contributor to Portland's 2021 campaign that saw the team earn the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, 2021 Women's International Champions Cup and 2021 NWSL Shield.