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Lindsey Horan: Portland Thorns ‘deserve better’ training facilities

(Craig Mitchelldyer/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Lindsey Horan isn’t holding back about the Portland Thorns’ training facilities.

The U.S. women’s national team midfielder recently completed a permanent move to French club Olympique Lyonnais from the NWSL’s Thorns. She had made 88 regular-season appearances for Portland, winning NWSL MVP in 2018, before leaving the club on loan to Lyon in 2022.

While playing in the Champions League in Europe is “not like anything else,” Horan said, the decision to leave Portland was a difficult one. Horan wanted to be playing among the best players in the world in a style that better suits her. And while the NWSL offers a high level of competition, Portland’s training facilities also factored into the decision, despite her love for the club and the city.

“It was a hard (decision),” she told ESPN’s “Fútbol Americas.” “Obviously Portland gave me so much. Six years of playing there, it was my home. Regardless of what’s happened in the past few years, they were my home.”

Yet Horan, who has spent the past couple of years nursing a knee injury while playing, also needed to look after her health. And the turf fields in Portland did not allow for that, she said.

“Health-wise, physically I wanted to be in a place where I could be training on on grass every single day,” she said. “I think that’s a major component that is not seen as much in the NWSL where certain teams are are training. Especially in Portland, and I would hate myself if I didn’t say that because they deserve better as well, how big a difference is that I think from a layman’s perspective you say, ‘Oh turf, it must not be that big a deal.’ Clearly it is huge.

“I think the older you get the more you feel it. I trained on it for six years, (Canada’s Christine Sinclair) trained on it for how many years. It puts a number on your body that, every team that comes in and plays at Portland, you know that you feel it worse. You go play 90 minutes there and it’s so much harder on your body and I don’t think a lot of people realize it. But it’s just a different kind of impact.

“And then you have to think about the women training there every single day. It’s not good. They need to have a facility for the women as well. How do the Timbers have it but the Thorns don’t?”

The Thorns are still owned by Merritt Paulson, despite his commitment to sell the team. Paulson came under fire last year in the wake of the NWSL abuse scandal, but he has said he plans to keep control of the MLS’ Portland Timbers.