Everett, Thorns Back In Action
Former Oregon soccer star Marissa Everett is working hard to stay ready whenever her chance comes for a breakthrough moment with Portland Thorns FC.
And though this year keeps throwing up impediments for Everett and the Thorns, her determination is a strong as ever.
First, the COVID-19 pandemic robbed the Thorns of a traditional season this year; a mid-summer Challenge Cup was scheduled to fill the void, in which the Thorns reached the semifinals of the knockout round. On top of that, wildfires have ravaged the state of Oregon's landscape and air quality this month, delaying the start of the National Women's Soccer League's Fall Series for the Portland club.
But Everett and the Thorns are hopeful they can finally get their four-game slate of fall games underway this Sunday, when the Thorns are scheduled to host Utah Royals FC at Providence Park. The match is scheduled to begin at noon, with live streaming provided via Twitch.
"It's pretty exciting," said Everett, who scored 18 goals at Oregon from 2015-18. "We weren't sure, after the Challenge Cup, what the rest of the year would look like. We're seeing this as an opportunity to really home in on 2021."
The Thorns were originally scheduled to begin the Fall Series on Sept. 12, with a nationally televised match against Tacoma's OL Reign on CBS. Smoke from the wildfires forced that match to be pushed back, first to the middle of this past week and then again to Sept. 30.
So Sunday's match against Utah Royals FC will be Portland's first time on the pitch for NWSL play since a Challenge Cup semifinal loss to Houston Dash on July 22.
"We left a lot on the table during the Challenge Cup," Everett said of the Thorns, who went 0-1-3 in the preliminary round before opening the knockout round with a 1-0 upset of previously undefeated North Carolina Courage. "We had high expectations for ourselves that we didn't necessarily reach. Coming off that, we want to use this Fall Series to really solidify our group and our vision and what we want to accomplish next year."
Everett, who is third all-time at Oregon with 10 game-winning goals, debuted with the Thorns in 2019. She scored her first professional goal against Chicago Red Stars on June 2, becoming the first UO soccer alum to find the back of the net in the NWSL, which opened play in 2013.
During this year's Challenge Cup, Everett started Portland's opening match of preliminary play, and appeared off the bench in the remaining three matches of that round. She did not appear in either match during the knockout round.
"For me, there's just a lot I have to learn," Everett said. "I've never been exposed to a tournament setting like the Challenge Cup. It was definitely a challenge, mentally and physically, and I want to continue to build off what I did learn, maybe get a few more minutes during these next couple games and show what I can do."
Everett's awareness of her own development path led her to stay with the Thorns to train the last two months. Some of her teammates elected to go overseas and play, but Everett wanted to soak up the chance to develop in Portland.
Everett said playing with the Thorns over the last year and a half has allowed her to soak up vocal leadership from the likes of defender Meghan Klingenberg, and to study the play of fellow forwards like Christine Sinclair.
"She makes things look so easy," Everett said of Sinclair, who was third in NWSL play in 2019 with nine goals. "That's when you know you're really good at the game. From a technical standpoint, it's amazing. Even tactically, the vision and the spacing, the awareness, all of it that she offers, you pick up when you're training with them."
Everett said the Fall Series also provides the chance for the Thorns to make their voices heard in the ongoing push across the United States to raise awareness of social justice issues.
"If you catch our games, you'll see we're continuing to push some messages," Everett said.
Assuming the wildfire smoke clears in time, the first chance to do so will come Sunday.
"It's exciting, because I think this Fall Series is going to showcase a lot of the younger talent on teams," Everett said. "So for me, I just want to make a positive difference on the field."