With the 2018 inaugural season officially in the books, for the next three weeks, we will be featuring a Utah Royals FC player profile, looking back at a player’s 2018 season. Up first is Elise Thorsnes.
Utah Royals FC announced the signing of Norway Women’s National Team forward Elise Thorsnes (pronounced TORSE-ness) in February, adding an international player with an impressive résumé. Thorsnes came to the NWSL with three Toppserien championships, four Norwegian cup victories, and three Toppserien goal-scoring titles at the club level in her native Norway.
There was an excitement and anticipation that Thorsnes would be the perennial attacker for Utah. Head coach Laura Harvey believed it enough to include her in the starting 11 for the first game against Orlando Pride. In her first 62 minutes with the club, Thorsnes managed a shot and was a part of Utah’s first goal in franchise history. Goalkeeper Abby Smith rolled the ball out to Rachel Corsie, who switched field to Thorsnes, who played it back across the field to Kelley O’Hara. O’Hara would then find Diana Matheson, who set up Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir in the third minute for Utah Royals FC’s first goal in club history.
Thorsnes missed the second game against Houston due to concussion protocol and played the full 90 minutes for the home opener against Chicago in April. Despite playing the entire game, Thorsnes recorded one shot that wasn’t even on goal. She played one more full 90 game against Portland after just seeing 21 minutes in North Carolina. Thorsnes was then sidelined by a left hamstring strain that never fully allowed her to make an impact as a striker. But even before the injury, the Norwegian international appeared to have trouble adapting to the NWSL or Harvey’s system. Her minutes began to diminish as the season progressed, going from a starter to a bench player with limited playing time. When the Royals signed Christen Press in June, it was clear that Press would be the striker Utah was looking for, and Thorsnes, on the injury list, slowly began to fade from the team.
For a player that was hyped as a scoring threat when she signed with the club, Thorsnes was rarely that player when she was on the field, which did not help a Royals offense that was struggling to score goals. In nine games and 353 minutes in 2018, the Norwegian international managed two shots, zero which were on target, and no assists.
Near the end of the season, Thorsnes was set to transfer to a club in Norway on loan. Even though the clubs agreed, the NWSL temporarily halted the transfer because she was on the injury list. In the off-season, Thorsnes was placed on the NWSL Re-Entry Wire where another NWSL team could claim a player. Thorsnes was not selected and became a free agent, her time with Utah Royals FC officially coming to an end.