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Seattle, Portland land top talent in NWSL allocation

Two teams in the Pacific Northwest came away as the apparent big winners in the National Women’s Soccer League’s allocation of 55 players on Friday, and both sides could have been a whole lot stronger if some players had gotten their way.

US women’s national team star Alex Morgan (above, right) and her Canadian counterpart Christine Sinclair were both allocated to the Portland Thorns, while US goalkeeper Hope Solo and playmaking midfielder Megan Rapinoe (above, left) are both headed to Seattle Reign FC. That means four of the best players on the continent will play within a few hundred miles of one another when the league opens play this spring.

"The Northwest was popular with our players, in some cases because they’ve lived there or because they went to school there,” US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said on a league-wide conference call. “We tried to balance it as much as we could."

The local ties proved true for the Washington native Solo, as well as for Sinclair and Rapinoe, who both attended the University of Portland.

Rapinoe, for her part, is currently playing with French side Lyon under a six-month contract and is expected to join Solo in Seattle later this year.

Each of the eight teams wound up with three US players, two players from Canada and two from Mexico, with the exception of the Western New York Flash, who got two players from each country. In all, 23 American, 16 Canadian and 16 Mexican players were assigned a club. NWSL teams will have 20 players, and the rest of the rosters will be filled out by a draft later this month and free agency.

“We looked at a panel of experts to be able to give us a lot of different information going forward to do the best job we possibly could to be able to match up not only the players, but the teams, and to make this a strong league going forward with those players being the anchor players for them,” said NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey.

In addition to the panel’s input, the league factored in the players and teams preferences to determine the rosters. 

“I don’t think I’d be crowning any champions quite this early,” Gulati said, “but I can understand why people on Twitter would say Portland’s got a couple of high-profile goalscorers.”

Western New York landed their fair share of talent, too, in the form of US striker and reigning FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Abby Wambach, along with US national team mainstay Carli Loyd. The Chicago Red Stars landed Canadian national team goalkeeper Erin McLeod along with longtime US holding midfielder Shannon Boxx.

“This is always a difficult process, but we believe there was a fair distribution of talent across all eight teams and with the NWSL College Draft coming up in Indianapolis on Jan. 18, the rosters of the clubs will really start to take shape,” Bailey said.

Here’s a list of the team-by-team allocations:

Boston Breakers
Sydney Leroux (USA)
Heather Mitts (USA)
Heather O'Reilly (USA)
Adriana Leon (CAN)
Rhian Wilkinson (CAN)
Anisa Guajardo (MEX)
Cecilia Santiago (MEX)

Chicago Red Stars
Shannon Boxx (USA)
Amy LePeilbet (USA)
Keelin Winters (USA)
Erin McLeod (CAN)
Carmelina Moscato (CAN)
Maribel Dominguez (MEX)
Dinora Garza (MEX)

FC Kansas City
Nicole Barnhart (USA)
Lauren Cheney (USA)
Becky Sauerbrunn (USA)
Desiree Scott (CAN)
Lauren Sesselmann (CAN)
Renae Cuellar (MEX)
Marylin Diaz (MEX)

Portland Thorns FC
Rachel Buehler (USA)
Tobin Heath (USA)
Alex Morgan (USA)
Luz Saucedo (MEX)
Marlene Sandoval (MEX)
Karina LeBlanc (CAN)
Christine Sinclair (CAN)

Seattle Reign FC
Megan Rapinoe (USA)
Amy Rodriguez (USA)
Hope Solo (USA)
Kaylyn Kyle (CAN)
Emily Zurrer (CAN)
Jenny Ruiz (MEX)
Teresa Noyola (MEX)

Sky Blue FC
Jill Loyden (USA)
Kelley O'Hara (USA)
Christie Rampone (USA)
Sophie Schmidt (CAN)
Melanie Booth (CAN)
Monica Ocampo (MEX)
Lydia Rangel (MEX)

Washington Spirit
Ashlyn Harris (USA)
Ali Krieger (USA)
Lori Lindsey (USA)
Robin Gayle (CAN)
Diana Matheson (CAN)
Alina Garciamendez (MEX)
Teresa Worbis (MEX)

Western New York Flash
Carli Lloyd (USA)
Abby Wambach (USA)
Bryana McCarthy (CAN)
Jodi-Ann Robinson (CAN)
Veronica Perez (MEX)
Pamela Tajonar (MEX)


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