Recap & Highlights: Portland Thorns 0, San Diego Wave 2
In a 1st versus 2nd place match, both teams fought for the right to control their own destiny for the NWSL shield.
With only three games left, the Portland Thorns needed a win to guarantee a top four spot in the table (home playoff match). San Diego Wave are coming off a headscratching 1-2 loss at home to Kansas City Current.
In a matchup of the best two teams (in the NWSL table), there was going to be a bunch of fireworks.
With a chance to clinch on the line, the Thorns did not seize the opportunity and fell 0-2 at home to San Diego.
Unfortunately for the Portland Thorns, the first half could not have gone any worse. They played right into Casey Stoney and the Wave’s hands. It was an ugly first half without much rhythm and with lots of turnovers, sloppy play, and mistakes.
“Disappointed. Not only in the result. First half performance just wasn’t anywhere near where it needed to be at this stage in the season against our closest rival (in the NWSL table)” said head coach Mike Norris. “Nowhere near who we think we are and who we want to be. So that’s the biggest disappointment, I think.”
In the 20th minute, recent USWNT debutante Jaedyn Shaw played a perfect low driven cross into the box that found Kyra Carusa for the lead. Rocky Rodriguez was battling for the ball before San Diego came away with it. The Thorns did not react and gave the Wave a counter chance that gave them the lead.
It got even worse. In the 36th minute, Bella Bixby slipped on a soft Alex Morgan header and it slowly got past her to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Although the Portland Thorns possess a strong midfield, they forgot about it for the most part all half. The ball was not moving crisply and that played right into San Diego’s wheelhouse. As has been the case often this season, the fullbacks pushed up, and paid dearly on counters. Reyna Reyes could be a candidate to start if this is how the fullbacks will play, as she is way better fit for the responsibilities.
Trailing by two at the half against the Wave is a near impossible task to come back from.
“At halftime we addressed some things. We addressed the energy. We structurally changed a couple of things. Second half response was much better, but we just can’t afford to give away 45 minutes as we did” said Norris. “We got punished early and in the second half it was a good response, but we needed to score when we were on top and didn’t. We lost a little bit of momentum in the second half, regained a bit with some of the subs. But credit San Diego, they started the game off in the right manner and we just never got going.”
In the second half, Portland had the majority of the chances. The only issue? Almost all the shots did not trouble Sheridan much at all. The quality of the shots were poor and lacking all evening.
The substitutions and changes were needed at the half. Mike Norris decided to wait till the 64th to make his first change and took him 84 minutes to put Christine Sinclair in. Being down two goals, it felt like Norris may have waited too long to make any changes.
Outside of a few players, it was a dreadful night for the team.
Now they’ll need to rebound against one of the of the most dangerous teams in the league: Gotham FC.
On a positive note, this team has rebounded after losses and adversity very well.
“Personally, I think we’re pissed. And something about our team culture with this group is we just get back together. And sometimes it’s on us, where we actually are the ones like, ‘We need to be better in this, this, and this,’ said Morgan Weaver. “When the coaches come to us, they’ll say certain things, but then we’ll take it also into our own hands and be like, ‘These are the things we need to fix. Let’s work on it this week in practice when we have extras or something like that.’ And I think that’s something special about this group, I would say.”
xG: Portland - 1.10, San Diego - 0.53
Possession: Portland - 52.3%, San Diego - 47.7%
Total Shots: Portland - 15 (5 SOG), San Diego - 12 (5 SOG)
Crosses: Portland - 11, San Diego 20
Corners Won: Portland - 9, San Diego 5
Passing Accuracy: Portland - 79.7%, San Diego - 75.7%
Sam Coffey - 6 attempted crosses, 3 dribbles, 3 aerial duels won, 10 possessions won
Meghan Klingenberg - 89 touches, 6 attempted crosses, 5 chances created
Hina Sugita -10 completed passes in the final third, 4 dribbles, 2 successful dribbles
Michele Vasconcelos - 4 tackles won
Natalia Kuikka - 12 recoveries
8’ Kuikka with the first shot on goal and it’s a good low driven that Kailen Sheridan manages to parry away.
17’ First corner of the night belongs to Portland.
20’ Goal 0-1 San Diego Jaedyn Shaw finds Republic of Ireland star Kyra Carusa for the visitors.
25’ CLOSE CALL! Crystal Dunn rips a shot from the right that Sheridan gets a hand on, but to Hina who barely skies it over the net.
28’ Colaprico denied by Bella Bixby
32’ Bixby denies Jaedyn Shaw off the set piece
34’ Kling delivers a good cross into the box for Dunn, but Sheridan easily collects
38’ Goal 0-2 San Diego Bixby with a massive gaffe and that gives Alex Morgan a gift of a goal (on a super soft header).
45’ Hannah Betfort outmuscles a center back and gets wide to deliver a cross into the box. Morgan Weavers collects and fires and it barely goes wide.
48’ Betfort has a point blank header but steers it off frame.
57’ Natu plays a beautiful ball ahead to Weaver who hits a rocket, but it’s deflected out for a corner. Betfort is off with the header.
63’ Dunn turns and fires. Sheridan is there once again.
64’ Olivia Moultrie on for Dunn. Kelli Hubly on for Becky Sauerbrunn
73’ Michele Vasconcelos in for Rocky. Reyna Reyes on for Natu.
80’ Weaver receives the rebound. Her shot sails over the net.
81’ CLOSE CALL! Moultrie with the shot of the half. It hits off the flippin’ post!
84’ Sincy on for Betfort. This change needed to happen at the half.
90’ + Moultrie with another terrific shot that misses the goal by one ball’s length.
Quote of the Night:
Emily Menges on having Becky Sauerbrunn back and playing with both CBs in the game
“It’s great to have Becky back. I think she’s doing great. She’s building more and more minutes and that’s awesome. And then obviously I’ve played so many minutes with Kelli and it’s like riding a bike. We’re all comfortable. Pretty much anybody on the back line you can throw in there and it’d be seamless.”
Q: Ryan Clarke
Morgan Weaver on the way the game was managed by the officials
“All I’m gonna say is that I’m pissed off. … As Marshawn Lynch said, I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”
Next up: the Thorns host Gotham FC at 2 p.m. PT on Saturday October 7 at Providence Park.