The Portland Thorns allocations have changed very little.
The Thorns will retain five of their seven allocations in 2013 in forwards Alex Morgan (USA) and Christine Sinclair (CAN), midfielder Tobin Heath (USA), defender Rachel Buehler (USA) and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc (CAN).
Portland did not see either of its two Mexican allocations during the 2013 season but will add Mexican forward Jackie Acevedo to the Thorns’ potent attack.
Acevedo spent the 2013 season with the WPSL’s Houston Aces where she scored five goals and added four assists in nine appearances. She helped the Aces to the WPSL championship where she notched the team’s only goal in a 2-1 loss to San Diego.
The Thorns will return the dangerous duo up top in Morgan and Sinclair who combined for 18 goals and seven assists.
Portland struggled at times to fire on all cylinders, particularly in the midfield. The addition of Heath in the final third of the season did help. The U.S. midfielder scored twice in the postseason, including a right-footed rocket in the final, to help the Thorns to the NWSL title. However, Heath has played sparingly since that final with a lingering foot injury sustained in the semifinal match on August 24 against FC Kansas City.
Heath is also likely miss at least part of the Thorns season yet again as she will spent time with French club Paris-St. Germain.
LeBlanc returns between the pipes after garnering seven shutouts in 2013 in 21 appearances for the Thorns. Buehler will likely anchor a backline that allowed the third-fewest total last season.
An expansion draft will take place next week, reportedly on Jan. 10. Each club will be allowed to protect two of three U.S. allocations, with the third going into the Expansion draft where the Dash will select their remaining two U.S. allocations.
Expansion draft: Difficult. Heath was integral in starting to connect the midfield for the Thorns but would Houston consider yet another allocation that they will not have for the whole season (Engen and Tancredi will likely miss the first half of the season). Buehler may also be a building block for a backline for the Dash.
One thing we can say is pretty clear: Alex Morgan will not be put into the Expansion draft (per tweets from owner Merritt Paulson).