Portland Thorns hosted Angel City in a weird week where we got unexpected results - and NWSL After Dark was at its best.
Wow, I didn't realize that the Thorns have the only two goalkeeper goals in NWSL history. The Ice Bear Academy has the special sauce!
This is an awesome photo. Thompson is legit.
THE SINCLAIR MINUTES WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES
Portland beat out San Diego (and everyone else) for attendance this week:
That was possibly the sloppiest game I’ve ever seen this team play- Misplaced passes everywhere, lazy balls out of the defense by the CBs, bad tackles leading to bad set piece defense, and bad goalkeeper mistakes.
1. Weaver was the only Thorn on the field that should come out of that game feeling good about themself. Worked her ass off all night, created chances, got her goal, and made some really intelligent runs. She still gets a little too over her skis at times but she’s turned into a much more polished player.
2. The full Bixby experience: She cannot get beat at her near post on the Thompson goal- Just straight up bad goalkeeping. Yes, she definitely gets fouled by Ertz on the 2nd, but I think she had already misjudged the ball (similar to KC) when Ertz made contact. Then she pops up and scores a back heel winner. I’ll reiterate what I said when Hogan got time against SD- Bella is prone to a really bad mistake or two once every few games and I’m not really sure she ever cleans it up.
3. We played a 4-1-2-1-2 diamond after the Soph and Moultrie subs, with Sinc in the hole and Soph and Weaver up top. Soph wasn’t effective at all, and I think that was partially down to her being shunted to one side in minimal space rather than being able to patrol centrally and float in and out like she usually does. Looked like they went back to a version of the 4-3-3 once Izzy came in with Smith on the RW. I’d prefer we not see that diamond again!
4. Sinc can’t be the last of the Dunn/Hina/Sinc trio to be taken off every match- she’s freakin 40.
5. Moultrie’s assist was OUTRAGEOUS. It’s one thing to be able to see that pass, but another thing entirely to be able to play it. She’s really a pleasure to watch when she gets license to create.
6. We really missed Becky’s composure and leadership in the back- The defensive unit felt totally out of sync all match, even if they didn’t really allow much from open play.
7. The crowd felt like an old, pre-scandal, pre-Covid crowd! Not sure if the attendance number backs it up, but that felt like (at least one of) the biggest non-playoff crowds I’ve seen since 2019.
Overall- Bad result, decent outcome. ACFC is an undoubtedly better team with Ertz, and both Seattle (should’ve lost) and SD (did lose to gd Orlando) dropped points too. A lot of stuff to clean up, though- Hope Norris lets em have it a little bit.
I wonder why every backheel in history has been cheeky. What does an un-cheeky backheel look like? If there were two in one game, would one be cheekier than the other? Is there no announcer or headline-writer who can dredge up a different adjective? Inquiring minds want to know.
Still reviewing tape and I’ll have more to say at Riveting!, but just this for now: why was Julie Ertz even on the pitch to score their third?
She was utterly out of control all night playing like a goon clattering people. The Dunn takeout slide itself was red-worthy and her bodycheck that enabled their second should have earned a second yellow at a minimum. I mean...her last act right before she came off was trying (and, luckily, failing) to make a clattering slide into Moultrie from behind with no hope of ball. She was a a Hanson Sister with a blue headband.
That she was even there is a tribute to Garcia’s incompetence and her cunning, since she’d seen he had swallowed his whistle.
Not excusing any other of the issues we saw last Saturday, and they were all there as discussed below. But Ertz was a perfect example how a referee’s unwillingness to “affect the game” ends up...affecting the game.
Way Too Early Week 5 Power Rankings
Tier 1 - bad draw, but better than bad loss
Portland, Puget Sound WoSo Team, Washington
Tier 2 - bad loss, need to bounce back
San Diego, Gotham, Houston
Tier 3 - nice win
KC, NC, Orlando
Tier 4 - should have won, came away with a draw
Louisville, ACFC, Chicago (OK, not really, but symmetry!)
Just a confirmation from Liv about her favorite player lol:
Wow, I have many thoughts lol....
Still not sure a goddamn Bixby goal was enough of a consolation for sitting through 90 minutes of....THAT.
Whew. Thorns stay getting points, despite themselves. A terrible showing by literally everyone except probably Weaver. Tried to take the game on her back. The sloppiest game I can remember from this team, and there was no excuse this time. A week of rest/training, at home with a good crowd, beautiful weather...and just, bad. Most everyone looked lethargic, sooo slow to the ball. Sinc was playing the 9/CF to start, and I never want to ever sit through 60 minutes of that again. Once Soph came in, she dropped back into the hole where she usually is...but she was just gassed. Can't believe has consistently pulled Hina and Dunn before Sinc. She's 40 in a month! I reeeeally wish he would put her on to close out matches...the subs could use the leadership on the field at that point. The buzz around Canada is that Sinc will likely be tasked with that 9 position for the WC, and, well, sorry Canada....we had I think 5 shots in the first half, and I don't think Sinc had any. Never up front again, please.
Norris' decision-making is increasingly frustrating and equally baffling. I think it's overly conservative for him to keep a healthy Sophia Smith on the bench for 60 or so minutes because she was traveling earlier in the day. I watched that first half and thought for sure he would pull Sinc, or at least put her back in midfield. Eventually Crystal kind of assumed a higher role, but still, it was a mess. One of the best midfields in the league, and the midfield was swiss cheese. I'm not sure I've seen so many misplaced passes and bad touches. What I said to my partner last night- "You know who we could use here? Lindsay Horan. We need someone in the midfield who can hold onto the damn ball!" I haven't said that in a long time...I have no idea what the plan is, but it's been so many games now that it doesn't seem like a bug, rather than a feature. The midfield has looked pretty terrible multiple games in a row now. Would like to see him do something different, because he's had plenty of data now with the same problems in multiple games. Also, he was a SET PIECE coach...c'mon coach, why isn't anyone marking or shielding Julie Ertz or Katie Johnson on those!? I called each goal before they happened in the stadium because that's what those players do! That was absolutely a foul on Bixby from Ertz, though. Goal should have never stood. This is not a homer opinion.
The backline was just....woof. Kuikka and Kling were just spraying misplaced balls everywhere, not connecting passes, and making terrible fouls. What happened?! Hina- still not a winger. Bella- double woof, but made up for it? Moultrie, a bright spot. That pass!!! My soul left my body on that play with Weaver. THAT is what the playmaker needs to do to connect with the forwards.
In other news....don't think I've seen OL Reign play so terribly, so I guess that's encouraging.....but LOU, what you doing?! You HAD it right there.....! They looked really sharp that first half. Really sharp!
In other other news....did anyone see/hear Julie Uhrman at the game last night?! Oh man, she had one of the fancy suites above 113-ish area with a bunch of people and she was just SCREAMING like top of her lungs constantly for AC. Everyone in my section was just staring at her like "who is this insane lady?!" Never wanted to have water balloons more in my life lol....
Anyways, this is quite the clusterfuck of thoughts from me lol....I still haven't wrapped my head around that game but I'm not sure I want to rewatch that one...next week, we head to North Carolina. I hope they can get back on track....
Also, I hope everyone will take a moment to enjoy this picture LOL:
Frustrating that Kuika gets in her own head so much. She scored the OG (on which my opinion was that Ertz ran straight into an tackled Bixby, gridiron style -- but it was pretty obvious that the VAR ref wasn't going to call anything all night and take a long time doing it ... every kickoff, even the pen was held for 30+ seconds, some for over a minute). She then immediately committed 2 bad fouls, the first earning a yellow and 2nd a totally unnecessary foul on a player out on the wing going away from goal just seconds later with the ref left deciding whether it was 2nd yellow worthy ... and honestly a 2nd yellow for a hard and unnecessary foul wouldn't have been a wrong (a little harsh, but not wrong) for this foul. This was followed by her team too busy arguing against having her sent off to bother to pick up Ertz who had a free run to a free front post header. Gahh! She is a good player but this isn't the first time I have seen her just lose the plot and pull the whole team down with her.
While the Bixby goal was glorious, it should have never been needed if not for the total mental collapse in back and an uncalled foul against Bixby keeping her from making the save on AC's 2nd goal leading to mental collapse giving up an immediate 3rd led by the person scoring the OG.
Any thoughts on the head ref? It sure appeared to me that Bixby got knocked down by Ertz on the 2nd LA goal.
IKD what's in those sideline water bottles but yesterday was one of the craziest days of soccer I've encountered. Not pretty but definitely not boring.
All hail Bella. That draw felt like a win.
OT: KC v Gotham. Miller in goal again, not Franch, but AD is available for today.
Methinks I know part of why Potter got sacked.
I'm guessing the GM wanted Potter to bench Franch, and he refused to do so. Interim coach is doing what she's been told to do.
There's no other plausible explanation -- I mean, what interim coach with no comparable pro head coaching experience would have the nerve to start her tenure by benching Franch?
I don't buy the broadcasters' "hot hand with Miller" explanation at all.
You can see in the last angle shown here that Bix's jump was totally stunted when Ertz plowed into her. She would've been able to jump higher and get her hands up to easily get that ball had it not been for Ertz...100% got that wrong.