76 Comments

I thought D’Aquila looked very good. I love her demeanor and posture on the field. She looks ready for more minutes. C’mon coach, get her more minutes!

This game was a vast improvement for Reyes but as mentioned several times, that passing. Ugh. If she’s going to play that high up passing has to get more accurate!

Leon. I like her. I remember watching a game in the She Believes and thinking, Wow! What a great, young player. Canada is lucky. Ha! Didn’t realize she has been around as long as she has. But I thought for that game at least she was the best player on the pitch. For that game

Man, Hina in the midfield just looked so good. We have to make this happen! C’mon coach!

The issues the Thorns are dealing with are not really new. They have had stretches of inconsistent finishing for a few years now. I don’t know if that’s really a Thorns thing or a soccer thing. Players get hot and cold like all sports. It seems like in soccer to be a consistent scorer you need volume. The more shots the more goals. We certainly have the volume, they’ll start knocking them in. Happened last year too. Right now we got some things to figure out, but we’re top of the table and dropped one meaningless game that had a wonky lineup and substitutions.

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Tough game for the Thorns. Should have come out of it with at least a 0-0 tie, but being unlucky means losing 1-0. There were some positive things to see, starting with a much better Reyes out on the field. She showed decent defense and good control on the ball when going 1v1. However, she really needs to work on her passing, as it was quite poor. Leon also showed she belongs on the team, I thought she was quite good on offense and tracking back on defense. To be fair to Nally, I thought she did a decent job on defense if you take away the mistake. When a CB is invisible and the other team doesn't have many opportunities they are dong their job.

Others have said it, but the team needs to play faster. Hoping that Smith bails you out by playing hero ball isn't going to get the job done. We have some really good players, they just need to move the ball and attack the defense.

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Apr 20, 2023·edited Apr 20, 2023

I don't really have anything to add to the final comments on the last post. In the two meaningful games so far this season the Thorns have taken 39 shots, put 14 on goal, have scored once on an xG of over 3 (1.11 for this one, 2.3 against Houston) and taken 1 point of 6 on offer.

One effect of this squad not playing quickly is that when pressed high it tends to give the ball away and become disorganized. Houston did that and SDW started pressing more tightly after the restart. The Thorns CAN play one-touch - look at the sweet sequence up the right flank on the 25th minute! - but they usually don't, and a smart coach and a talented team is going to use that to hammer them the way San Diego did from about 55-65'.

No finishing and the inability to play out of the press makes it hard to beat a decent opponent. The Orlandos? Sure. But if we're going to defend, we're going to have to solve those two issues.

And FFS let's see D'Aquila at the #9 against Louisville. Smith needs the rest and Betfort - sorry, girlfriend - ain't doin' it.

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I don't everything to look for in comparing GK's skills and potential, and we haven't seen Hogan against the league's best, but as just a fan? If i'm being honest, I'm less nervous when Thorns are defending deep with Hogan in goal.

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Apr 20, 2023·edited Apr 20, 2023

Looking at the passing maps for the Thorns recently, there has been a major disconnect between the midfielders and forwards. I thought maybe it was just game specific, but I've seen it almost every game now (even the ones we've won), that I'm wondering now if this is a thing that is being coached....clearly it looks like the plan here is: fullbacks hoof it to Smith and hope for the best.

https://twitter.com/arielle_dror/status/1649125591424315393/photo/2

We've been way too heavily relying on our fullbacks to provide service to the forwards, which is problematic for several reasons that we've seen play out. We have a rookie fullback getting these minutes and she doesn't quite have the speed (or experience) to be able to know when to get up, or when to get back. I saw it happen with Kuikka the last couple games also...she was almost playing as a wingback, and, if there was a quick turnover, she was often caught waaaay too far up field. There would be a hole where she was supposed to be, and she was often seen sprinting to try to get back. We'll be punished for this from better teams. I've seen it with all the fullbacks now, and I hope it's something that's better balanced in the future.

We should be using the midfield FAR more than we have, and not rely just on fullbacks for service. If it's a function of opposition pressing us in midfield, we need to be sharper and quicker with passing. But, there is no connection from midfield to the F line. Porter and Rocky were pretty bad. Not sure what's up with Rocky...maybe her confidence has taken a hit since she's been benched much of the season. I also think she's not really a player who will change games on her own, but she definitely plays better when those around her are the starters. (Also am I crazy, or did Norris move her to the 6 late in the game?) I'm not really sure what coach is trying to do quite yet, but connection needs to be a lot better.

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A bit off-topic for this thread, but discussed elsewhere because of the KC implosion. Ella Masar, whom I mentioned prior for quietly leaving KC Current and then not having good things to say about Potter in a podcast, had this to say yesterday..

https://twitter.com/emasar3/status/1648885526106177536

Sorry to have folks have to click to go to a Twitter feed. It's unfortunate the tweets don't show up here as they did on the previous STF platform...if someone knows a better way of sharing these, please divulge!

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Actually, yes; let me add this.

I don’t want to make it sound like I’m throwing my hands in the air. This is a solid squad and I’m hopeful about this season (the Cup? Meh. It’d be nice, but eyes on the prize).

There are clear and obvious issues that have been visible literally since the first preseason kickoff:

1) the difficulty finishing if Smith isn’t doing magic or the opponents are well organized or it’s Wednesday. And

2) slow movement and passing, taking multiple touches and inviting a high press, then losing composure and possession under that pressure.

I’d add a third coaching-specific thing; slotting people in positions they don’t excel (Sugita at RW, Betfort at CF, D’Aquila at RW, Nally at FB…) to fit other people on the pitch.

With the talent here those are not insoluble problems. But they persist, and since it’s still early days now is a good time to figure out ways to solve them.

I’m hopeful Coach Norris and the squad can do that. I’d like to see some evidence that’s happening, tho. And sooner is better…

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My thoughts:

(1) Hogan is good. Also, great to see 5/10 teams field their back-up keeper.

(2) I hope McGrady gets healthy soon. We could have used her last night, if only so Kuikka didn't play 90 minutes.

(3) Will this mean Sinclair doesn't start on Saturday?

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Apr 22, 2023·edited Apr 22, 2023

I sense that I, who generally considers myself much more of a realist than an optimist, have somehow become this board's resident optimist! A few thoughts on the early season:

1. I've watched a LOT of non-Thorns NWSL this year. Relatedly, I've also watched a lot of ugly soccer. The Reign are the only team that can play with the same verve and fluidity the Thorns do, and they have a real striker problem. The Thorns have *8.6* xG through three league games with 3.6 against. The Reign have 4.7 for and 2.3 against, and the Wave have 4.4 for and 4.6 against. Now, part of that is definitely Orlando and KC, but it's very important that a few games of finishing issues does not equal a flawed system. Soccer balances out- It's frustrating when the luck doesn't go your way, but all the underlying metrics (and the eye test, at least for me) show that the Thorns are more than fine.

2. I like the way the team plays! It looks to me that that Norris looked at this squad and (correctly, imo) decided that they're well-suited for an up-tempo, pressing system that offensively relies on its many elite-level playmakers to make plays. The Thorns play nice stuff and have plenty of the ball, but they're not inherently a tiki-taka Barcelona-style possession team....because their best attackers are Sophia Smith, Morgan Weaver, and Crystal Dunn who are all best in space. That doesn't mean that they're fully reliant on those players to win 1v1s, but it is an important aspect of how the team plays.

3. Re: Wednesday: Now, I'd like to see some more data points, but the way they kept control of the game (with a ten minute blip), on the road without Soph on the field on Wednesday was actually more encouraging than not- It feels like last season they would have completely lost control. SD had ONE SoG the entire match.

4. So, the bad:

-- They can struggle to generate good chances against the best defenses, and when they don't have a ton of chances, the poor finishing becomes more of an issue.

-- The FBs are constantly stuck up field for a few reasons: They're talented attackers, and the press naturally pushes them higher to fill in the space. This leave the Thorns susceptible to quick counters and puts a lot of pressure on the CBs and the 6 to cover.

-- Norris needs to stop playing Betfort. She's not a good soccer player, straight up, and she's keeping a good soccer player (D'Aquila) from playing her natural position.

-- If Menges isn't able to stay healthy, I am concerned about CB depth. Nally also just isn't very good- We have plenty of evidence to back that up. We really can't afford to have Hubly suffer an injury of any type.

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Here's a question... Michelle Kang isn't content to own Washington Spirit. She's also trying to buy Big OL. Does this mean that Horan's going to play for Kang in Lyon?

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Betfort irritates me up front, gives me Mal Weber vibes and I don’t want that.

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