In matchday 5 of the NWSL Challenge Cup, the Portland Thorns had a small chance to still qualify for the knockout stage, but fell on the road to Angel City
From here it looks like the Peregrine organization fell into one of the classic blunders: standing pat after a championship season.
I get it. But it sure looks like Mike Norris is nothing more than a competent assistant coach, and the reserves are undercooked. In a similar situation this looks more like 2015 than 2019; no plan, and what plan there is was oversold and underwhelming.
The problem I see is that there’s no terrific way out of this anytime soon. It’s a small-roster-hard-capped league, so even if the sale goes thru tomorrow and the Strong group is flush with cash, there’s only so many players they can buy. And same with coaching…who do you recruit? Look at the big names flailing at this WC, or at last year’s darling Stoney, sinking like her namesake at SDW…
We’ve been crazy lucky here that we’ve never had to suffer through an extended rebuilding. The great 2015-16 off-season turned the Riley (spit!) debacle around immediately. Parsons’ last seasons were always “semifinal-good”.
Now I think we might be looking at some tough times. I don’t know what’s going on with Paulson, but it LOOKS like he’s either stepped away, or he’s stuck with his player personnel staff (KK, Ned) that lack skills, insight, or both. And the sale? Who knows if it’s a thing and, if it is, what vision the prospective new owners - presuming it’s still the Strong group - even have. We’ve heard literally nothing from them.
Supporting means supporting, in good times and bad. We’ve been very lucky supporters until now. But we might be headed to a place where Cloud Nine or whatever the Boston supporters group was called could tell us about…
At least the GM is enjoying herself with a mid season moonlighting gig while the team she’s responsible for flounders and the coach she’s responsible for shows no signs of actually coaching. This team desperately needs to be sold so we at least have a puncher’s chance of getting a FO that’s not a complete clown show.
Thankfully, Challenge Cup need not occupy our thoughts. Not when we have World Cup!
One thing not talked about much because the game was such a shitshow was Kayla Morrison making her late debut. She's a CB, but she came in for Reyes, so I have no idea where she actually was playing, but I did like her energy. She came out looking fast and like she wanted to prove something. I'd like to watch again because I wasn't paying attention to her specifically, but we had a few corners and she definitely looked like she wasn't afraid to get into the scrum and I think maybe even got to the ball with her head on one of 'em. It's more than what I've ever seen Menges or Hubly do. Yes, Hubs has won a few headers on corners (that came right to her), but she doesn't really attack the ball like I remember seeing from Morrison...Hubs seems hesitant to use her head if she isn't standing by herself when it comes to her. Didn't see much of her defending, but I'd love to see more of her in this OL Reign game since it really means nothing now and we really need to test out some other CB's. Let's see if she has some good potential for a future depth piece...she is from the west coast of the US, so it may not be too hard to coax her from Australia later if she proves well. Replacing our bottom-roster talent will be a task, but if you can improve each position little by little, it may go a long way. Being better than Nally is a low bar...so, let's see some more of Morrison.
Have to admit poor officiating has somewhat soured me on NWSL. Twice this weekend I witnessed two bad calls that absolutely changed the outcomes of matches. First was the OLR vs SD penalty call. The second was the Menges call at the start of the second half that led to free kick goal. Now maybe I'm just seeing everything from rose city colored glasses but both of those challenges looked perfectly legal to me. Thing is we have players going down at minimal contact trying to work refs into calls, and it's working. Shoulder charges are not fouls unless excessive force is used. It's one of the reasons I have preferred woso over broso as they approach the game with a bit more integrity. Seems like it's creeping more into the womens game now though. So am I off base for thinking this way?