PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) — The Portland Thorns are now just under a month away from playing matches as the National Women’s Soccer League became the first professional American Sports League to put together a return-to-play plan.
The NWSL Challenge Cup will safely host all nine clubs for a month-long, 25-game tournament to crown a league champion in season eight just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I feel like in the beginning no one was really sure if it was going to progress the way it was,” Angela Salem, Thorns Midfielder.
The 2020 Thorns campaign will kickoff in Utah on June 27th and conclude with crowning a NWSL champion on July 26. One cup with no fans in the stands, after a four-week buildup of full-team training in Soccer City.
“It just feels amazing to be able to play with friends and not just dribble around by ourselves. It is really crucial during this time to get to know each pretty quickly and learn each other’s tendencies and put it all together before we head out to Utah,” Salem said.
The players and owners had come to the resolution to safely return to play.
“Guaranteeing player salaries and even for players who don’t compete in the tournament is a plus because some players don’t feel comfortable and that is completely fine but to know that they are going to be secure with that has been really promising and I hope that moving forward the league and the owners and the organizations continue to work together and building this league and progressing it forward,” she said.
During her time away from the game, Angela earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling for Clinical Mental Health from Springfield College in Massachusetts.
“It was too bad I couldn’t have just packed everything up and made the whole change. I flew all the way to Portland, then I had to fly back and then move all of my stuff but the timing was good because I was able to complete it online, finish my internship online and now with the timing I am done with that I can focus totally on soccer,” Salem said.
No doubt, Salem is ready to break home quarantine with her best friend, roommate, and teammate Katherine Reynolds.
“We met like our second year professional in the WPS in Atlanta, then we played at Western New York for three years, then we got traded to the Washington Spirit together playing for Mark (Parsons, Thorns head coach), we went to Australia together, then she got picked up by Portland when I was with the (Boston) Breakers. I was in her wedding, so she’ll be in mine. We’re best friends,” she said.
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