NWSL Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 3, FC Kansas City 1 | Apr. 26, 2014

Riley: "It was nice to get a couple goals on the run of play."

NWSL POST-GAME QUOTES
Portland Thorns FC vs. FC Kansas City
April 26, 2014 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Final: Thorns FC 3, FC Kansas City 1

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley
General thoughts on the match:
“Well, I think again we can play better. You’ll probably hear that a lot for the first couple months of the season. I don’t think it was a great performance, but we hung around long enough. I still think we created some good chances in the first half probably a little bit more in the first half maybe than the second half. I think Kansas got a grip of the game after they scored and I think we were in trouble for about 10-15 minutes. Then, funny enough, the changes helped us. We changed formation a little bit; we tweaked it a little bit and Jess [McDonald] got a great goal. I thought the movement off the ball was really good. Then Jess [McDonald] iced it. It was a great ball from Mana [Shim] for the third one. We rode our luck a little bit in that 15 minute patch. I think just to get through that 15 minutes was critical for us, which we did.”

On Jessica McDonald’s performance:
“She’s been brilliant for us. I didn’t know her, I didn’t know too much about Jess. [University of North Carolina head coach] Anson [Dorrance] has spoken to me a little bit about her. She spent two years really injured and roaming around and trying to find her feet. I think she was fit coming in. She was ready to play. You know, her husband and kid are in Arizona, so it’s not an easy thing for her to come here. She’s been fully committed to everything we’ve done. You can see the fitness level she’s gotten. Two great goals. I thought she took the second one, it was a beautiful goal. Barney [Nicole Barnhart] is not easy to beat, especially up high and [McDonald] got her coming out. I thought it was a great goal. But she’s been tremendous and obviously with Alex [Morgan] missing [McDonald] has an opportunity to keep pushing along and getting goals. Hopefully, she can make it difficult for Alex to get back in the team. I’m hoping that’s what happens.”

On Allie Long taking the penalty kick:
“I didn’t make that decision. The players make that decision. I actually thought [Christine Sinclair] would take it tonight. Allie’s scoring goals and I think when you score goals, you want to take it. I watched Allie, she went straight for the ball and with [Sinclair] there was no hesitation. She let her take it. That’s part of being a team and who’s in form. [Sinclair] has been playing well, but she hasn’t scored, she hasn’t really been around the box enough for me. But [Sinclair] has still been very good for us. I think it was a good decision again to let Allie take it. Allie, obviously, seems to want it so keep plugging along as long as Allie is putting them away. I was happy to just get a goal from the run of play. So far, we’ve had two penalties and a throw-in from Jess McDonald, so it was nice to get a couple goals on the run of play. We’ve only conceded two goals and they’ve both been off set-pieces. So far, so good.”

On the team’s performance:
“I think my biggest worry coming into the game, I’ll start with that, was the effect of the crowd and how we’d react. We’ve been playing in an empty stadium for the past seven weeks training and all of a sudden it’s full of noise and full of people. I actually think they got us the win tonight. I really think they pushed us forward in that last 10-15 [minutes]. In that middle of the second half, I thought we were in a bit of trouble. I think the crowd got behind us. They kept us going and then we got our just rewards. I think the biggest thing is you have [Courtney Niemiec] playing at right back, who’s 21-years-old and Emily Menges, who I thought had a terrific game today. Distribution I think can get better, but under that kind of pressure to come in and perform in the back, I think Nadine [Angerer] settles them all down. She has that calming influence on everybody. Even tonight, everything that went in the air, [Angerer] was clean as a whistle, pulling it in. On this wet surface, I told them before, make sure you track everything forward and at the back. You know what? She didn’t have to track anything. She pulled everything in. I think that gives you a sense of ‘Wow. We’ve got Nadine behind us. We’re going to be okay.’ She’s come up with a couple big saves again tonight. The one right before, I think, we actually scored was a huge save, that she touched over the crossbar. I think maybe that was the changing point in the game, that big save. It kept us in the game, allowed us to get back into our groove a little bit and we took over the game the last 10-15.”

On waiting for major players to arrive in Portland:
“It’s in our minds, obviously. I don’t think it’s on the players’ minds, who are playing. They just want to get out there and play. There’s going to be a lot of strength in depth. We don’t have a lot of strength in depth right now and I think we’ll have that in another month or so. But it’s just a matter of picking up as many points as we can in April and, certainly, the first two or three weeks of May until we get everybody here. When you look at Kansas City, they’re fully loaded. They had everybody playing tonight. Sarah Hagen is their only one missing. There’s a big difference between one player and five players. But in all fairness, Emily Menges has stepped in, Courtney Niemiec has stepped in and done a good job. Jess McDonald, obviously, can’t argue with that one performance and Angie Kerr’s done a good job for us too in that attacking midfield spot. [Verónica Boquete] is a different player, the Spanish international. She’ll be on the dribble, as well as the pass. Sometimes I wish we had that No. 10. We really don’t have somebody who can beat them on the dribble and I think [Boquete] will give us that extra little bit. Because I’m just hoping every time somebody comes back they give us another lift and then another lift and then another lift. Tobin [Heath] will be the final player in, the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle. We’ll have to wait until late June for that one. It’s an exciting team to coach. We played out of the back in tough conditions tonight, got a little hairy at times. That just shows the confidence of the team and they’re going to try and play out as much as we can and hopefully we’ll get better at it.”

On Nadine Angerer’s performance:
“She’s just so calm. Even in the locker room, she has that sense of calm about her. I’ve never seen anybody with hands this good. When that ball goes in there, it just doesn’t come out. And feet. One of the reasons we really wanted her was just because of her feet. We’re going to play out of the back and in these conditions, it wasn’t easy to play out of the back. We were trying to play out of the back and she gave good support to both Nikki Marshall and Emily Menges. I would think even when [Lauren] Holiday’s getting up to take that penalty she’s thinking ‘My god. Nadine Angerer’s in front of me here,’ and it has got to be in your mind. I don’t care who you are in the world. She’s a top class goalkeeper and she made a couple huge saves for us today. Even more than the huge saves, I think the corner kicks, 11 corner kicks [for FC Kansas City] over the game and she’s getting out and she’s pushing it away or she’s catching it. It just gives that sense of ‘We’re okay. We’ve got Nadine behind us.’ We’re just going to grow with her and it’s a great pickup for us. They say she and Hope [Solo] are the two best goalkeepers in the world and I’ve never coached Hope, so I can’t say anything. I think Nadine is absolutely top class.”

Thorns FC forward Jessica McDonald
On her goal-scoring plays:
"The first one, I was just working off the shoulder of the defender and I was looking to stay wide, stay on side and I saw that Allie Long was keeping the ball. I was calling for it, calling for it and I didn't give up on that run. I just focused on finishing low and far post. The second goal, I was just looking to play high and split the two central defenders. I saw Mana Shim wind up with her left foot to play that long ball and I just ran onto it. I saw the goalkeeper come out and just wanted to get it over her and into the net."

On scoring in front of the home crowd:
"Words can't even explain it, but at the end of the day, it was just absolutely incredible, phenomenal. It doesn't get any better than that with a fan base like that. "

On getting the win and setting the tone at home:
"We have to prove a point here. We're the defending champions - some of the girls were last year. Our main focus today was to get three points at home and that is what it will be for the rest of the season - get three points at home."

On the team's chemistry and performance:
"Being the defending champions, we have to prove that we truly are a great team and prove that we can play together. It takes one step at a time to really come together. With a team like this, when we put all of our strengths together, we look great out there."

Thorns FC midfielder Allie Long
On her penalty kick:
“I’m pretty sure it came off a throw-in. I turned on one girl and was going for the end line and I just went to cut back. Becky [Sauerbrunn] hit my shin and I went down in the box. I was going to wait and see if [Nicole Barnhart] was going to guess a certain way or if she was going move before my kick and she didn’t. So I just did what I normally do and what I’m comfortable doing. Just the place I like [penalty kicks]. I was confident.”

On the go-ahead goal:
“I saw [Christine Sinclair] in a pocket. I wanted her to lay it off to me, so I was running as the ball came to her. She just touched it to me perfectly in between the defenders. I saw [a defender] in front of me, so I rolled [the ball] and I heard Jess [McDonald] screaming. I played it. I didn’t even know. I was hoping she wasn’t offside. She finished it perfectly. It was a great goal.”

On her connection with Jessica McDonald:
“Jess and I went to school together at North Carolina, so I’ve known her for a while. I know her tendencies, she knows mine and we’ve kind of grown together from college players to professional players. It’s been a good journey with her and learning each other through the years. I know what she brings and she kind of knows what I bring, so we feed off of that.”

On the team scoring from the run of play:
“That was exactly what we needed. I know they had an opportunity and I was so thankful that she hit it over the bar. I think the next goal was the deciding factor in the match and whoever got that would finish the game off. I’m just happy it was us and I’m glad we got the go-ahead goal.”

On the making the game difficult for FC Kansas City:
“They changed their formation coming into this game. We were prepared for both, whether it was their 4-4-2 or their 4-5-1. We really wanted to make sure that we put the right players that maybe weren’t used to this environment under pressure. Anyone in their backline really, the new girls. We knew [Becky Sauerbrunn] is very good out of the back with her feet, but we just wanted to shut them down, keep pressure on them and not let them play at all. We didn’t want [Holiday] getting the ball and turning. We knew Tymrak, she’s good at dribbling, so we tried to keep [the ball] on one side and tried to win it and make it hard for them to play. I think we did a good job for the first 15-20 [minutes], but as soon as they switch it, it breaks everything down, so we have to learn and grow from it.”

Thorns FC goalkeeper Nadine Angerer
On the atmosphere at Providence Park:
“It was amazing. During the game I thought I was playing in the World Cup. It was so loud and the crowd was amazing; it felt like a World Cup game.”

On if she had experienced this type of crowd before:
“I think no club in the world has fans like we have in Portland; I haven't seen it anywhere else.”

On staying focused over the course of the game:
“I'm totally focused on the ball, on my team. I try to perform well. I try to focus on the pitch and not on the spectators. Of course, you feel the spirit of the spectators, but I'm focused on the pitch for 90 minutes.”

Notes:

  • Prior to kickoff, Thorns FC held a special pregame ceremony to award returning players their championship rings and unveil a banner at Providence Park to commemorate the club's 2013 NWSL championship.
     
  • Saturday’s home-opening match marked Portland’s first home game since Aug. 4, 2013, a stretch of 265 days.
     
  • Saturday marked the first of three regular-season games between Thorns FC and FC Kansas City in 2014. The two teams met five times last season in all competitions with Portland registering a 2-2-1 record, including a come-from-behind, 3-2 win in the NWSL Playoffs semifinals.
     
  • With the win, Portland improves to 3-2-1 all-time against FC Kansas City, including a win in the 2013 NWSL Playoffs semifinal. Thorns FC have outscored FC Kansas City, 13-12, in the all-time series, with the two teams producing a combined 25 goals over six games.
     
  • Against FC Kansas City, Thorns FC set season highs in goals scored (3), assists (2) and shots on goal (10). The team's 16 shots on Saturday was second-most this season only to the 18 shot attempts on April 19 at Sky Blue FC.
     
  • Midfielder Allie Long scored in a third straight match with a penalty-kick goal in the 44th minute. The Thorns FC record for goals scored in consecutive games is four, set by Mana Shim July 14-31, 2013. With three goals through three games, Long has already matched her 2013 regular-season output for goals.
     
  • Forward Jessica McDonald scored her first goals as a member of Thorns FC and, with a brace, becomes just the second player in team history to record a multiple-goal game. With four points on the night, McDonald also matched the team's single-game mark for points (4), last accomplished by forward Christine Sinclair on July 28, 2013.
     
  • McDonald scored her goals in the 84th and 88th minutes, and the 4-minute, 18-second span between goals is the fastest time between goals all-time for Thorns FC in a regular-season match.
     
  • Portland’s 10 shots on goal tied for the second-most all-time in a regular-season match by the club.
     
  • Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer recorded a season-high six saves against FC Kansas City. She entered Saturday's match having made four total saves through the first two games of the regular season.
     
  • Midfielder Allie Long and defender Nikki Marshall each started their 25th consecutive match for Thorns FC dating back to the 2013 season.
     
  • Defender Kat Tarr made her Thorns FC debut, coming off the bench and playing the final eight minutes of the match.