The conclussion of the Thorns' three game road ended up being more difficult than what was anticipated.
Time for my weekly dose of vaguely frustrated enthusiasm:
No matter how poor the Thorns look, the Reign, Spirit, Wave, and the rest of the league show an equal level of seemingly disqualifying issues on a weekly basis. I promise. I’ve watched a TON of non-thorns NWSL this year; much more than in years past. Every team has flaws that we would look at as season-enders if we were all fans of that team. Just this week alone, the Spirit should have lost to the Current at home and avoided it by the skin of their teeth. The Wave lost to ACFC at home. The Reign had a woman advantage for 50 minutes in Houston and couldn’t get three points. I PROMISE that there is not one other NWSL team that has consistently looked better than Portland.
The main issue with this team is that they SHOULD be better. That’s what’s frustrating. They should be 5-10 points clear, and they’re not. They’re not because of the ownership situation. They’re not because of subpar coaching. They’re not because their talent isn’t playing to the potential.
And yet, it’s still a very fun team to watch:
- Morgan Weaver has been outstanding. Like, shockingly good. She’s expanded her skillset in ways that I really didn’t expect after watching her for three years.
- Sam Coffey is an absolute joy of both soccer player and human. Rapidly becoming one of my favorite Thorns of all time.
- Sophia Smith is freakin awesome. Pro athletes of her caliber RARELY come through Portland, and we shouldn’t take it for granted
Bring on the Spirit Friday, and let’s hope we see a repeat of last year (minus the last game shield collapse)!
Sounds like Arin Wright is going to be OK. Red Stars released a statement that the initial tests were negative. Best possible outcome after such a scary collision.
We won, so there's that. But wow. We used to talk about the Thorns playing down to bad teams, but this didn't seem like that at all. The last four matches, including the win in Seattle, have "featured" an incredible number of truly terrible passes by the Thorns. Every single player from Bixby to Smith is passing directly to the opponent, even when only five yards away, and when under no pressure. I have never seen a Thorns team with such awful passing. And now we match that up to three games in a row leaving people unmarked on set pieces and not just occasionally, and -- not as often as we deserve -- paying the price.
Both problems, and they are massive "we're not gonna win the league" problems. seem to be matters of individual focus and team tactics, not lack of talent. Fixable things but you can't cure a disease that you can't or won't diagnose. Combine with the bizarre "you were great, so now you sit" starting elevens and it hurts the eyes. It's hard to feel good about barely outrunning a wounded turtle, and now the cheetahs are coming.
The World Cup may come to our rescue. The team's depth is a big deal - we should be markedly stronger than the other top six teams. I'll be worried more about Houston or Louisville during the Cup than Washington or Seattle. But first we've got to get through these next two games hopefully still holding a playoff spot. You won't see me placing any bets.
Also, how the hell does Bianca St. Georges not get a red card for her frustrated swipe at Menges just after halftime? She was nowhere near the ball and just kicked out in anger. The exact same thing happened in the US-Mexico men's game on Thursday and the ref, with zero hesitation, issued a straight red. How can you not call that a red card?!
Some Lindsey Horan news from Meg Linnehan. It’s a little unclear, but I think this means she’s not coming back at all if they’re discussing a transfer fee, yes? We kinda already knew she was staying past her loan, but I am eager to know more details. If it’s a full transfer, good on KK to sell high. Extending her loan is pointless.
It’s a short article, here’s the text:
“Lindsey Horan is staying in France with Lyon, sources briefed on her new agreement but not authorized to speak about it before the official announcement told The Athletic.
The paperwork is complete with an official announcement expected soon.
The move is not an unexpected one, as Lyon head coach Sonia Bompastor had previously said she would remain with the team after the conclusion of her loan in June.
Horan signed a contract extension with Portland through the 2025 NWSL season at the time of her original loan, but the sources did not disclose the transfer fee involved for Lyon to keep Horan in France — though presumably the team could spend some of that money to help shore up their midfield depth with her exit from the team.
A spokesperson for the Thorns could not be reached for comment.
Portland had already adapted around Horan’s absence following the loan in January 2022. The most direct move they made immediately following that announcement was signing Japanese international Hina Sugita, who can swing between the midfield and the forward line on the right side, but the team has also relied on Crystal Dunn and Christine Sinclair for their attacking playmaking.
Horan’s playing time and goalscoring increased for Lyon during the 2022-2023 season, in which they won their league title as well as the Coupe de France over PSG, though exited their Champions League campaign far earlier than expected in the quarterfinals to Chelsea. Across all competitions this past season, Horan scored six goals and added three assists.
Ahead of that quarterfinal match-up against Chelsea, Horan said of her time in France, “There are few American players playing abroad. For most it’s a big cultural shock when they arrive, for me too at PSG it was quite unique. I wanted to take up a challenge. OL are among the best clubs, this club has helped me grow. I am very grateful to the club for giving me this opportunity.”
Sounds like Sauerbrunn will be out for a while, and I don't know if our defense is going to be any good in the meantime. I don't see that Becky does THAT much out there to make such a difference, but the results say otherwise: without her we're giving up 3 goals to Orlando, giving up 2 to Chicago, pretty much not doing well on defense in any game, and generally looking like headless chickens running around on defense. Thank God for Sam Coffey because without her I don't know how much worse it would be.
On the bright side, our attack continues to be the best in the league, both by the eye test and by the goals-scored tally (we've scored 29, the next best is Reign with 19). So there's that.
How will we fare against Washington's three-headed attack monster? I don't think we can win 5-4 because Parsons's teams are usually solid on defense.
The woman announcer in Sunday's concisely game gave away the attack-plan when playing the Thorns:
"Cross into the box, make Bixby work."
I don't know enough about the game to know the strengths and weeknesses of man-marking vs zone-marking for corners and crosses into the box. I only know that the Thorns use zone-marking, so therefore man-marking must be the much better approach.
A St.Georges blast that nearly sawed off the post was the was the only reason we didn’t take just one point off two bottom of the table squads. Does not portend well for the future.
Pungently Putrid Power Rankings
Tier 1: DC Kang (the best of a middling lot)
Tier 2: NC, Thorns, PSWST, SD (at this point, no team is higher or lower)
Tier 3: Houston, Louisville, Orlando (ditto)
Tier 4: ACFCNFT, KCFUBAR, No Stars (each is crappy in their own way and for different reasons)
And today's hot take...
Time to fire the GM and the HC.
No, I am not talking about Portland. I am talking about KCFUBAR.
After today's loss -- conceding twice after the 81st minute -- they dropped to 3-0-9 on the season and sit 9 points and 11 goals behind 6th place Gotham.
KC would have to leapfrog 6 clubs just to make the playoffs, making up at least 10 points in the standings (or 9 points and 12 goals) over the next 10 matches.
NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.
Come on, Longs and Mahomses. Fire the GM, fire the HC, and go into that new stadium both healthy and functional. The City of Kansas deserves better than this.
UPDATED: The Interim HC STILL can't decide on a backfield formation??? https://www.kansascity.com/sports/soccer/kc-current/article276504636.html.
But that's also hardly the problem. Nor is it the problem that she didn't have a whole preseason with the team, nor that she's still missing some good players, nor that she can't yet play her desired formation.
Here is the only fact you really need to know: In this year's regular season, KC have lost to every NWSL club but Orlando and Gotham. THAT is hard to do, and it's a sign that YOUR. TEAM. SUCKS.
Yes, Potter's responsible for the early losses to NC, Portland, and Chicago, but Sjöblom's responsible for the losses to ACFC, SD, Louisville, Houston, Reign, and Washington.
And this BS about Sjöblom not being able to play the formation she wants to play? She's used a 5-3-2, a 4-3-3, a 3-4-3, and a 4-2-3-1... which is the same as Potter did except for the 3-4-3. What is she wanting to play that she can't play?
re Bixby- really concerned that she may take a step back mentally. She was just starting to break out of her unwillingness to come off her line- then in (almost?) consecutive games, she comes out to the edge of the box against SD's Jakobsen and gives up the late would-be winner, tnen now this crash/penalty against Chicago, and her significant emotional reaction to that collision. She may revert to being too gun-shy to ever control her box the way we would hope.
Multiple teams having their turnaround games against us is not the rep we want…
“Chicago Red Stars have attempted 15 shots in this game, their highest total in a single match this #NWSL season
Although they didn’t get a point today, it was definitely a step in the right direction and something to build on #ChiStars ”
Watching the highlights right now. Sounds like there were maybe 47 fans in attendance today. Maybe.