The Portland Thorns will head into the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League season without one of its most talented forwards.
Raso, the club announced Wednesday, has left the club. A press release from Raso’s agency issued last week said that the Australian forward has signed a six-month contract with Everton of England’s WSL. Everton confirmed the signing, but did not specify details of its contract with Raso in its announcement.
The Thorns will retain Raso’s NWSL rights, should she decide to rejoin the league.
“I will be forever grateful to the Portland Thorns for taking a chance on me and allowing me to represent this amazing club for the last four years,” Raso said in a statement from the Thorns. “I am incredibly proud to have been coached by (Mark Parsons), who developed me into the player I am today, as well as playing alongside some of the greatest players in the world… To the fans, I’ve never experienced anything like the love and support you show. Thank you for supporting me and letting me experience your immense passion week in and week out.”
On joining Everton, Raso said: “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity of being coached by (Willie Kirk) and I know I will learn and grow alongside my teammates. I’m hoping I can continue my form. I’d love to score goals for Everton. I want to help the team to the best of my ability and I cannot wait to play my first game in blue.”
Raso, 25, will join Everton in mid-February after she plays for Australia in Olympic-qualifying matches in China, the club said.
After beginning her professional career in her native country, Raso came to the NWSL in 2015, signing with the Washington Spirit. After being waived, she joined the Thorns in 2016. Over 72 appearances with the Thorns, she netted 13 goals and had seven assists. She helped the club capture the NWSL Shield in 2016 and the NWSL Championship on 2017.
“Hayley has been an important player who has developed tremendously over the last four years,” Parsons said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting her from a distance in her next step and hope we can welcome her back to Portland in the future.”
Raso has played in Australia’s W-League since 2011. In 85 appearances with various clubs, she has scored 23 goals.
On the international stage, she has 40 caps for the Matildas and started in two games for them at the 2019 World Cup.
“Hayley is a very exciting talent and I cannot wait to start working with her. I’ve been tracking her for almost a year now, watching closely her performances with Portland, Brisbane and Australia,” Everton manager Willie Kirk said in a statement. “There are also areas of her game that we can enhance further and I’m certain she will be a great asset to the club.”
Everton is fifth in the WSL table this season with a 6-5 record.