Portland Thorns college draft pick Sydny Nasello causes commotion with anti trans-athletes retweets


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sydny Nasello (in white), goes up for a header in a match against the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Portland Thorns draft pick is facing backlash from Portland Thorns fans for reposting tweets against anti-trans athletes.

Sydny Nasello, a striker from the University of South Florida, was the Portland Thorns Football Club’s first pick (13th pick overall) in the National Women’s Soccer Leagues (NWSL) college draft, but fans became concerned about her selection due to past social media activity.

Nasello retweeted a post by podcast host and founder of Turning Point USA Charlie Kirk, originally published On Feb. 17, 2019.

“Biological males who think they are girls should not be allowed to compete in sports against actual biological girls,” read the tweet. 

After the drafting of Nasello was announced, Portland Thorns fans began looking at her social media. Hours after the announcement, the Thorns official fan organization, The Rose City Riveters, responded on Twitter. 

“Fascism, racism, homophobia, transphobia — we are against these,” read the tweet from the Riveters. “We don’t support anyone who represents/espouses these views, full stop. Looking forward to hearing from @ThornsFC.”

The Thorns have made big staffing changes this year, including hiring new general manager Karina LeBlanc and new head coach Rhian Wilkinson, who responded to the backlash after the draft when asked about it by reporter Steph Yang in an interview for The Athletic.  

“[Nasello] is someone that we did a lot of due diligence on in terms of what we do as as a club, but as a first year head coach and — yeah, these are these are gonna come across as excuses — but I do need to hold my hand up and be responsible for not doing the work needed on the social media side,” Wilkinson said. “I think it’s important that I state that this is an inclusive, open club that values its fans and knows what we stand for.”

Other past tweets from Nasello continued to resurface, including tweets supporting former President Donald Trump building a wall and claims that former President Obama was born in Kenya.

According to Just Women Sports, Nasello issued an apology on Twitter as screenshots continued to surface, but soon after made her account private, allowing only those who previously followed her to be able to view her posts. 

Sophomore Kennedy Fletcher, a player on the Portland Thorns Academy 2005 team, shared her opinions on the Thorns drafting Nasello. 

“I feel really disappointed that the Thorns openly signed a player with anti-LGBTQ+ history. The NWSL, and specifically the Thorns organization, has always been loving, supportive and inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community,” Fletcher said. “When they drafted Sydny Nasello, it sent a terrible message to the fans and every single player on the Thorns that they don’t really care about what they say they stand for.”

Fletcher also commented on the impression the new general manager and coach are making by drafting Nasello. 

“Mark Parsons did such a great job in all his years as head coach, and he really was the one who made the Thorns one of the best organizations in the NWSL on and off the field,” Fletcher said. “With the new coaching staff stepping into Parson’s shoes, this isn’t the first impression I would’ve liked to see. What I’m hoping for is that the new general manager and coaching staff work to uphold the reputation the Thorns have always had, first by dealing with the Sydny Nasello situation.”

According to a tweet on Jan. 7 by The Athletic reporter Meg Linehan, the Thorns have decided not to have Nasello join the team for the 2022 season. Sophomore Lydia Levy was happy about this news. 

I am glad that the Thorns decided to part ways for 2022, but they should have never drafted her in the first place,” Levy said. “I get that they are trying to draft the best players and do what’s beneficial for the team, but they have to keep their values and the community’s values in mind.”

Correction (04/06/22): The original version of this article stated that Sydny Nasello “was caught having retweeted a post by” a podcast host. This language has since been corrected to “retweeted.”