Mark those calendars: Portland Thorns FC coach Paul Riley expects to have all hands on deck — including Alex Morgan — for the June 7 home match against the Western New York Flash.
Morgan has missed the entire NWSL season thus far with a stress reaction in her left ankle and last played a competitive match on Nov. 10, 2013, when she came on as a substitute for 22 minutes for the United States in a win over Brazil.
Her rehab has been very slow, but she’s gradually begun to train more and it now looks like she’ll be ready for the Thorns’ first game in June — their 10th overall — at the latest. She could suit up even sooner.
“You’ve got to figure June 7, which is Western New York at home — I know the date pretty well — that will be the game, the first that we’ll have everybody here other than Tobin (Heath). That will be the game that everyone should be available for. That will be the first time that we are fully loaded.” Riley said on Saturday.
Riley confirmed to The Equalizer that “everyone” includes a healthy Morgan and Rachel Van Hollebeke, who is also yet to play this season after spraining her left ankle in a game with the U.S. two days before the start of the NWSL season. Australian defender Stephanie Catley will be with the team by then and the much-anticipated return to the U.S. for 2011 WPS MVP Veronica Boquete could happen June 7.
Heath, who is finishing her season in France with PSG, won’t join the Thorns until after the United States’ two matches against France on June 14 and June 19.
Portland also needs forward Christine Sinclair to get going, and the influx of new talent could do that (though she and Morgan struggled to connect when playing off of each other in 2013). Sinclair hasn’t scored this season and her lack of confidence in front of net has been palpable.
Riley said Sinclair is aware of her struggles, but he thinks she’ll snap out of it and score “13 to 15″ goals in the last 18 games (which is…an ambitious number for anyone).
“She even said to me that, ‘I’ve never been in this kind of funk in front of net,’” Riley went on to say in the video. “We’ll get her out of it. It’s just a matter of one going in.”