With Franch back, Thorns top the Challenge Cup standings

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — On top of coronavirus quarantining, Adrianna Franch needed to invest 4 long weeks of last season simply attempting to remain off her hurt right knee.

It was not a simple job for the 30-year-old Portland Thorns goalkeeper understood for her limitless energy.

“For us as athletes, any time we have an injury, it’s tough. It’s a rollercoaster because we always want to be back, we always want to be there for our team and be able to play and do what we love. But the pandemic, constantly being at home, the injury itself — that was probably one of my worst just because I was non-weightbearing for four weeks and that’s the longest time anybody’s told me to sit down on the couch,” she said.

Because of the injury, Franch missed the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup tournament last summer in a bubble in Utah. She also missed the league’s fall series back in local markets later in the year.

Now she’s back, playing in a preseason version of the Challenge Cup for the Thorns, who face Pacific Northwest rival OL Reign on Wednesday night.

The Thorns won the first two matches of the tournament to lead the West Division and could clinch a spot in the May 8 final with a victory over the Reign. But they’ll need help — in the form of a win or a draw — from the Chicago Red Stars, playing the earlier game Wednesday against Kansas City.

Gotham FC, formerly Sky Blue, has also won its first two games in the East Division.

“I think we feel really good about what the points and the results have looked like. But we all know we need to be better and we can be better,” Thorns coach Mark Parsons said. “I actually feel very similar to the Challenge Cup last year where I could see a togetherness and appreciation for what we’re trying to do. However, the goals or the results weren’t there. I feel similar where we actually have the results and the goals so far, but we’re still not firing on all cylinders.”

Franch, called A.D. by her colleagues, has actually been with the Thorns because 2016 when Portland obtained her rights from Orlando. In the beginning, she was backup to starter Michelle Betos, however ended up being the starter in 2017 and made the very first of back-to-back NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year honors.

Due to the fact that of her strong NWSL play, she got into the senior U.S. nationwide group and she was on the team that went to France for the 2019 World Cup, although she did not play. She has actually made 4 overall looks for the United States, with one tidy sheet.

Now that she’s returned from injury, among her jobs is being familiar with the propensities of Portland’s additions both in 2015 and heading into this season. Amongst them are fellow nationwide group gamers Becky Sauerbrunn and Crystal Dunn.

“In 2015, absolutely had a bit of FOMO, wishing to be with the group and play with them, specifically in training and practice. Therefore in February, all of us returned as a group and I resembled a little pup pet dog when I initially was available in,” she said. ”My tail was waggin’ and I was so excited to see everybody. I still am excited to be out there playing with everybody. And, you know, we get to play Seattle coming up. So how can you not be ready?

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.