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This is a tough question, but who was your player of the match?

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Aug 21, 2023·edited Aug 21, 2023

The only moment at which I can say "I saw it coming" was when Smith subbed on, but that's only because of how the Thorns were playing and I knew Smith would be determined to get a goal. But it was just as likely that that wouldn't happen, or that they wouldn't be able to hold the lead if they got it.

What I sure as hell did NOT see happening was Betfort's gorgeous goal off Moultrie's equally gorgeous pass which brought them to level in the 41st, after all the crazy stuff that happened 25 minutes earlier.

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I’ve now seen the highlights of the Thorns’ match. Correct call on the red card. Definitely a DOGSO after some really sloppy play. Ironically, if the penalty had stood there couldn’t have been a red card. Betford looks dialed in and ready to be a real contributor but what an assist by young Moultrie. Just brilliant. Wonderful two on two playing by both Smith and Weaver. All I could think about when I saw Smith tap that in was that she could have been doing that for the national team at the World Cup if Andonovski hadn’t marooned her on the left touchline. It was a superb win for the Thorns.

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founding
Aug 21, 2023·edited Aug 21, 2023

Now that was an entertaining game of football! Watching Hubly make a dumb mistake, dig the hole deeper, then deeper still - I thought "here we go again". But what determination. The team never hung their heads and they never really appeared to be short-handed.

Norris made the correct substitution and Nally did well. In fact, his subs were timely throughout. My WOTM was Moultrie - a total Energizer bunny and doing good, positive work all night long. Coffey was a close second - if her laser had only found the side netting we could have coasted home.

I am not sure why it took the VAR three minutes and an on-field review to determine that Lussi's shot went in. I am not even clear why the AR didn't call it live - I was shocked it wasn't given and asked my seatmate if I'd missed a foul call. So the referee crew had some issues, but they got it right in the end each time and I felt like the run-of-play reffing was good. There was never a doubt that Hubly earned her early departure.

I'm not sure what to think of North Carolina. They were missing some key pieces and if the Courage have a real weakness it's their lack of depth across the board. But still, they could have bunkered to ride Lussi's free kick to a win. It seemed to me that the idea never crossed their mind. They smelled blood and probably wanted to win 5-0. So they pushed high and got punished. Even at 1-1, you'd think they might have tried to go home with a point. Of course, I am happy they didn't. People have talked about Nehas as a potential USWNT candidate, but his apparent lack of pragmatism might suggest not.

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Aug 21, 2023·edited Aug 21, 2023

For the most part, other NWSL results this weekend went our way. Reign lost, the Spirit had a draw (late - they almost lost but Ashley Sanchez worked some magic), and Gotham lost. The latter meant that the Wave won, but they're farther back so overall it was a good result for us.

Oh yeah, NC lost too. 😀

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founding

Sometimes I miss Tyler Lussi being a Thorn and sometimes I really don't. Discuss.

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re. The Betfort goal. On still-further review, it was the sort of intelligent passing all too rare:

Bixby passes to a not-covered Porter, who passes perfectly to Kuikka, who also passes perfectly to Moultrie, who instantly chips over an NCC player to Betfort in stride, who does half a dozen things in two seconds and scores.

Team football at its best, and it never happens if NCC with an extra player to fiddle with assigns somebody to harass Bixby.

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Just looked up Hubs's info on FBRef.

She's been here since 2017, when she was 22; she's now 29.

She barely played in 2017 and was a spot starter in 2019, but for most of the time she's been here she's been a starter and seen a lot of minutes.

She's played 72 regular season matches (starting 62) and 25 cup & fall series matches (starting all 25).

That's 97 matches, 87 starting, not even including pre-season, post-season, and WICC appearances.

My point: Hubs always had the occasional brainfart, but the problems I am seeing this year are lack of effort. With as long as she's been doing this, the kinds of things she's done this year shouldn't be happening. I've gotta wonder what's going on.

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Note to the next national team coach... play Smith central with a wing partner good at doing wing things, let her run at defenders putting them on the backfoot... and you should do better than the guy who despite not technically losing a game, only conceding once, with xG of 9 and with still one of the most talented rosters in the world, somehow still managed to win only 1 game in 4. Even Mike gets that much.

Thorns are the antidote to losing IQ points watching the Timbers. Complete the sale already, Paulson, because this team achieves despite you.

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Aug 21, 2023·edited Aug 21, 2023

Did not see that coming. At all. Down a goal and down a player early in the first half, we'd be very lucky, I thought, if we could pull one back and then manage to hang on for a draw. Even that seemed unlikely, since NC had enough possession that we were surely going to tire in defense and give up another goal, if not several more. A win?! Not even in my dreams!

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I was happily surprised how good the Thorns looked against a team that was at the top of the league. Despite going down a player, I never really felt that NCC was able to exploit the advantage. It goes to show how much the International players impact the game, and really we only had Sinclair and Smith for 20 mins each, and Rocky for a real shift (60+ minutes).

I was really disappointed in Paramount+, as the announcers seems to talk up the Courage once they had a player advantage, and then only started talking about the Thorns once they took the lead. And the lost feed was a real problem.

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A lot of (mostly justifiably) harsh criticism for Kelli in this thread. I’d tone it back just a little: She has never been the all-NWSL CB talent she looked like for portions of last season (which is why I thought a healthy Menges would take her place at the start of the season) but she’s a very solid, B-level starter who’s error-prone tendencies have been accentuated by the total lack of a defensive midfield, FBs playing ridiculously high, and her all-world CB partner missing most of the season through injury.

Frankly, there’s not a lot of second CBs in the league I’d take over her, which, though it might speak more to the NWSL’s general lack of high quality defenders, makes her a totally fine option. I do think they need to go find a top class CB, but I think there’s a reason(s) she’s looked particularly poor this season compared to last.

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Of the 14 players with three or more assists, *six* are Thorns:

6 assists - Coffey

5 assists - Smith

4 assists - Weaver and two non-Thorns

3 assists - Kling, Moultrie, Sugita, and six non-Thorns

No other team has more than two players on the list. We sure score a lot, and help each other out while doing it.

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Fun factoids: The 24 goals assisted by those 6 players above is more goals than any other team has *total*. And Coffey's 6 assists is as many as the entire Houston team.

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Not to be too much of a record-scratch here, but think about how much Hubs's latest miscues cost her teammates.

Not only did they have to dig out from 1 goal and 1 player down, but Sinc had to sub off after 22 minutes. Kids, you never want to do that to your captain, especially not the GOAT.

Then, everybody else had to carry the load for her over the next 75 minutes on a night with hazardous air quality.

She also displayed high-level ref-challenging after the right call. "What? Who, me? That?" Yes, Kelli. And then did it again when shown the red.

And it all started with the kind of way-too-casual play that she's been doing for some time now. Last night it was a heavy touch and a sloppy tackle. In recent weeks it's been lackadaisical passing or not hustling to win a ball or cover a mark that's hers.

For a player who worked so hard to earn a spot with the club, then earn regular minutes, then earn a starting spot (albeit due to injuries of others too), it's frustrating to see Hubs not making the effort to play better.

Maybe this will be a wake-up call for her, or maybe she needs to sit for a while.

She will miss the next match, yes?

Perhaps it's time for Becky's return....

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For those interested...ABell4 gifted me a working stream, and here's the report for those interested: https://rivetingpdx.com/2023/08/25/thorns-fc-tarjeta-roja/

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Aug 25, 2023·edited Aug 25, 2023

ABell4 did a deep internet dive to find a copy of the international stream of this game. It's very twitchy, with lots of pauses in the feed, and it has commentary in Spanish, which will only help a fraction of us (alas not including me). It's still infinitely better than what we're getting from Paramount+, which is nothing:

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1904405001

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