The Thorns began the day yesterday with three picks in the NCAA Draft; #13, #22, and #48. With those picks they chose the following players:
Sydney Nasello (F)
Nasello was rated #4 on this year’s draft list by Top Drawer Soccer. Chris Henderson had her at #5 on his big board, so it looked like the Thorns made a very good move to pick her up so late.
Henderson loved this pick – gave the Thorns an “A” for her value and her fit with team needs (commenting that we need forward depth after trading away Lussi and Charley), that she’s great with the ball at her feet, and “good passer for a winger”.
Not sure whether we NEED her as a winger – that’s kind of what Weaver does already and our problem last season wasn’t as much wide as an in-front-of-goal #9 – but, again, she looked initially like good value for a second-round pick.
But then the Internet exploded with this sort of stuff…
…and it turns out that perhaps the reason Portland nicked her so late is that young Nasello is a hardcore Trumpkin. We’re talking all-in on the bog-standard wingnut stuff – Build That Wall, men are men and women aren’t, the 2020 election was “stolen”…
She was quickly apprised of how most of the Portland Thorns fanbase feels about that and tried to do damage control.
Here’s the thing.
First, she’s 22. The reason armies draft people in their late teens and early twenties is because many, many of those people are ignorant, cock-sure, selfish, and believe they’re both immortal and that they know everything.
Being a Trumpkin is loathsome, but being a Trumpkin at 22 is less loathsome than still being one at 44 or 66 and have seen a bit of the world. I, for one, would hate to be dragged with the incredibly dumb shit I said, did, and believed when I was 22 or 25.
Second, she’s a jock.
My Bride was the designated tutor for jocks trying to slide through the science distribution requirements at her Big Sports School in the SEC. She’s regaled me with many a story of these characters, many of whom had been jocks since early childhood.
Bottom line? LOTS of jocks are really, really focused on their sport. It’s not just their life, it’s who they are. To call them “ignorant” elides the degree to which they have been cocooned in Jock World since before puberty. They literally have no genuine understanding of the world outside the narrow confines of their sport.
That’s not to excuse them; it should be the responsibility of every human to learn and grow. But it goes a long way to explain, I think, how someone like Nasello can believe atrocities without connecting how those atrocities play out in real life.
How does it play out that, say, a rookie that loudly proclaims that “marriage is between one man and one woman” comes up against a salty veteran and coach like Nadine Angerer…who is married to Magdalena?
How does that go? Not well for the rook, I’ll bet.
My compa Richard thinks that the club will simply let her slide until she’s out of the public eye and then not sign her. I suspect it will depend on how hardcore her Trumpy beliefs are. Given the wide broadcast Nasello’s wingnut views have gotten – to both the fans and her potential teammates and coaches – I’m not sure she is a good fit for this club unless there is a hell of a lot of contrition and repentence.
There’s a precedent here. Jaelene Hinkle Daniels not only believes that God hates homosexuals but was unwilling to keep her mouth shut about it. In a sport where many of her WNT and Carolina teammates, coaches, and fans are LGBTQ+ that seems…inopportune…at the least.
And, surely enough, the situation where one player sitting next to her lesbian teammate asks “Hey, can you toss me that towel and, oh yeah, by the way, did you know that you are an abomination before the Lord and damned for all eternity?” wasn’t tenable.
Daniels lost first her WNT slot and then retired from The Damned Courage at the age of 27, giving up many years of profitable play.
Update 12/20: Who knew? Turns out that homophobic bigotry comes with an expiration date. I guess you gotta be you, Damned. Jesus wept.
I’m utterly unsure what the club will do about Nasello. But she and they now have a mountain of an issue to deal with, and will have to deal with it in some way.
Gabby Provenzano (CB)
…came with #22. Henderson rated her as #7 overall. She was not in the top 30 at Top Drawer Soccer’s draft rankings but came in at #19 on their Top 100 player chart.
Henderson comments that she “has technical skills pro teams are looking for at CB but jury still out whether she can defend elite level attacking talent.”
I like picking up a young centerback. Sauerbrunn is going to age out quickly and much as we hate to admit it Emily Menges is both no longer young and has been struggling with injuries over the past several seasons. That leaves Kelli Hubly as our only depth piece there.
Natalie Beckman (F/W)
Coming in at the tail end of the draft, Top Drawer’s draft table had her at #17 and suggested that she is “prolific” but is likely to be a potential outside back conversion rather than remain up front.
Henderson’s big board had her at #20 and said that while she put up “video game numbers” it was for the power franchise in a fairly noncompetitive league. He loved the fit, though, giving Portland an “A+++” for the pick.
Frankly? I see her as almost like-for-like with Tyler Lussi. Deep depth right now, we’ll see how she plays her way (or not) onto the matchday roster. Given the Nasello explosion she might be a welcome depth piece at forward.
It’s unfortunate that the FO forgot the rule of modern sport; check your players’ Facebook feed and Twitter record to make sure you’re not going to end up with a boatload of issues, because on purely soccer terms this was a very good draft.
And – I want to add a word of caution – we don’t and won’t know the conversations that LeBlanc and Wilkinson had, are having, and will have with Nasello. It’s entirely possible that there’s some way to make a decent pie out of this muddy social media mess.
Here’s Coach Wilkinson on the subject:
“Definitely a piece that we’re going to be working with this young lady and getting to know her. But thankfully, we are part of a club, an organization, that’s very clear on where we stand on social issues like this. And I’m proud of that piece. And I aligned with our GM (Karina Leblanc) in her statements about who we are and that mission and purpose. So for now, I’m going to leave it but we’re definitely very early in our relationship and it’s going to be something that we address.”Stephanie Yang, The Athletic
It may be that the club can “address” this mess. Or it may be that there’s just a fucking nasty mud pie and there’s no hope for the Thorns to make it edible.
Well. Onward, Rose City; remember that the club still needs to re-sign Bella Bixby, Celeste Boureille, Marissa Everett, Meghan Klingenberg, Kelli Hubly, and Angela Salem. There’s a lot more silly to Silly Season before next spring and the first sound of boot on ball.