PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Mike Norris will be the next head coach for the Portland Thorns.
Norris was an assistant coach on Rhian Wilkinson’s staff last season, helping the Thorns win their third National Women’s Soccer League championship.
A Thorns’ source confirmed to the Tribune on Friday, Jan. 6, that Norris will be the coach introduced on Monday when the club holds a virtual press conference.
Norris replaces Wilkinson, who resigned last month after one season leading the team. Her resignation stemmed from a situation in which she and player Emily Menges expressed romantic feelings for one another. An investigation cleared Wilkinson of any wrongdoing, but she stepped down, stating that she had lost trust of the Portland players.
Thorns general manager Karina LeBlanc, a former national team goalkeeper for Canada, led the search for the new coach.
Prior to joining the Thorns staff last year, Norris spent eight seasons working with Canada’s women’s national team system, including from 2019-21 as the goalkeeping coach and set-play coach for Canada’s senior women’s national team. During that period, Canada — a team that included current Thorns Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie — won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
When announcing Norris’ addition to her staff last January, Wilkinson described Norris as well-respected.
“He is hard-working, diligent and thorough in his planning, a strong on-field coach with a deep understanding of the game and a great person away from the field,” Wilkinson said at the time.
Norris’ coaching experience is mainly as a goalkeepers’ coach. Between 2014 and 2019, he worked as an assistant coach for Canada’s women’s under-17 and under-20 teams. He served as an interim head coach for the U-20 team.
From 2014-16, Norris also was the goalkeepers coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps boys residency U-14 and U-15 teams.
Norris will be the Thorns’ fifth head coach as they enter their 11th season.