Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 2, Western New York Flash 1 | May 21, 2014

Long: "We wanted this win at home and we knew that it was big time"

NWSL POST-GAME QUOTES
Portland Thorns FC vs. Western New York Flash
May 21, 2014 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Final: Thorns FC 2, Western New York 1

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley
On Portland’s offensive opportunities: 
“Corner kicks were 13-3. So if you’re getting corner kicks, you’re getting into the final third of the field. We had a lot of shots tonight and a lot of really good chances. Jess [McDonald] had three or four clear cut chances. [Christine] Sinclair had three or four clear cut chances. Allie Long had a couple of great chances. I thought Allie Long did a great job underneath Sinc. They have a really good understanding with each other. Angie Kerr had a fantastic game I thought. Amber [Brooks] and Sinead [Farrelly] just played their roles really. We played with two defensive midfielders tonight, which we haven’t played with most of the season. They sat in and covered that hole so Western New York couldn’t get to Abby [Wambach] on the floor and run Carli Lloyd off of her. I thought it worked pretty well, until they started knocking diagonal balls over the top of everybody. Then we got ourselves caught out a bit. I think for the majority of the time, Sinead and Amber did a good job. Probably Amber’s best game for the Thorns so far. She got in the game a little more. She’s been around 35-40 passes a game. I think she’ll be around 45-50 at least and we need to get her up around in those 50s.”

On the team’s defense:
“I thought we did a really good job on Abby [Wambach]. I don’t know so much if it was just Nikki [Marshall]. I think tag-teaming between Nikki and Emily [Menges] was really good tonight. They didn’t have one of their better days with the ball, I don’t think. I think [they did well] actually preventing balls, getting first to balls in the penalty box and closing down shots and stopping crosses coming in. Abby’s tough because she pulls off every time that balls goes wide, everybody gets pulled to the ball and Abby’s going the opposite direction from everybody else. We’re lucky we have some pretty decent sized fullbacks because Courtney [Niemiec] and Kat [Tarr] had to be in pretty good positions a couple times on balls coming in deep, but we handled it pretty well. I don’t remember really that many clear cut chances for [Wambach] inside the box in the air. I talked to Nadine [Angerer] at halftime. I like her to be a bit more aggressive. Couple of balls in the first half were up in the air an awful long time and I want her to come and get them, just to take some pressure off the backline. [Western New York] is a very difficult team to play against. A very English style and they were pumping balls in. Very difficult to manage. They’ve won a lot of championships over the years, they have a lot of the same players still there so they’re used to winning. It was a good result for us, especially at home. We wanted to win at home. We’ve played the three top teams in the league at home so far. The fans were great again tonight. They were awesome tonight. On a Wednesday night for 10,000 to come out. It was fantastic for us.”

On Allie Long’s goal-scoring this season:
“Allie loves scoring goals now. This is not the Allie Long of yesteryear. She wants to get in the box, even in practice she’s always scoring goals, she’s always in good moments, good places to be. I think the national team call-up has done her a world of good. She’s grown again as a player since the call-up. She was about 85 percent going into the game with a hamstring problem. I didn’t expect her to go 90 [minutes] and to be honest, I would have pulled her off, but around that 78th minute, I just felt Allie is a good player to have on the field. She can score goals, but she can also hold possession, draw fouls. She’s intelligent. She’s become a leader on the team. Without Rachel [Van Hollebeke] on the field, you need that leadership. We do have a young team, especially around that backline and I think having Allie on the field is tremendous for us. On both sides of the ball, Allie’s good. In the old days, you’d see Allie on one side of the ball. Last year, she was very defensive. Now, she’s put the two pieces together and I think she’s a complete player.”

Thorns FC defender Nikki Marshall
On playing against Abby Wambach:
“Playing against Abby is a challenge, every game. Being especially cautious of them serving balls into Abby is huge and I think we really made sure if there was a service, we had a couple players around her and we tried our best to just get up with her and defend the best we could.”

On the final minutes of the match:
“The end was crazy. I think we got slightly lucky on a few of those to come away with only one goal. A win is a win and we did our jobs.”

On Portland’s young defense:
“I’m happy with the defense right now. I’ve been blessed to be in a leadership role because I have two young players next to me and Kat [Tarr] is kind of new on the outside as well. Just being able to step in there and play with two young players that are playing like they’ve been playing for five years. They’re great players. They’re strong, they’re smart, they listen. They help me, too. We have, what Paul likes to call, a good marriage within the back line. I think we’ve done really well thus far. I think this was one of our worst games, defensively, but we still came out with a win and I think we can really learn from this experience.”

On scoring the first goal early:
“I think this was the first game we came out in the first 20 minutes and played really well. We haven’t done that yet this season. I think that was vital for us, just as far as setting the tempo for the game. I think we have to play like that every game and start off the first 20 minutes and continue that into the rest of the season.”

Thorns FC forward Jessica McDonald
On the importance of beating Western New York at home:
“It’s extremely important, simply because they have Abby Wambach on their team and that’s one of the players we truly want to shut down as an individual on a great team like that. Them coming from playing in the championship last year and being in the standings the way that they are this year, it’s a good opportunity for us now to get the three points against them and hopefully we just continue that.”

Thorns FC midfielder Allie Long
On the fast start to the match:
“I think it’s always good to come out the first 5-10 minutes and set the tone of the game. This is our home field and we want to make it hard for the other team to play. That’s been one of our goals this season – to make this our territory and really hard for other teams to come in. We knew the first 5-10 minutes, it lasted even longer than that. I think it was 30 minutes that we were pretty solid. That’s always good to just set the tone and have things go our way. We got a goal out of it so it was big time.”

On her play against Western New York:
“I think each game I’m trying to get better and do things better, so when I reflect on games, I try to change what I did wrong in the last game or fix something here and there. I didn’t train [heavily] this past week, so I felt fresh going in and just really focused. I knew what I wanted to improve on. It was definitely a good performance, but I still need to work on some things.”

On getting a win against a quality team:
“It was huge. We wanted this win at home and we knew that it was big time, especially against Western New York. I don’t want to say that they’re a rival, but in a way they kind of are. We just want to make it hard for them to come and play us. Grinding it out, we were under pressure the last 10-15 minutes and I was just happy we were able to not allow Abby [Wambach] a header on one of those services that they kept pounding in the box. Our defenders did awesome. We got the job done so it feels really good.”

Notes:

·         Wednesday’s win marks Portland’s first regular-season victory against Western New York. In all competitions, Thorns FC have earned a 2-0-3 overall record against the Flash.

·         The match was the second of three regular-season meetings between the two teams. Portland played to a 1-1 draw against the Flash on May 3 at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, N.Y.

·         Midfielder Allie Long’s game-opening goal in the 17th minute marked the second-fastest home goal in Thorns FC history, falling four minutes shy of the record, a 13th-minute tally by forward Alex Morgan in a 4-3 win over FC Kansas City on June 6, 2013.

·         Portland’s 13 corner kicks on Wednesday set a new team record for most corner kicks in a regular-season match.

·         Portland’s 20 shots on Wednesday is tied for the second-most total shots in a regular-season match in team history, while the club’s 10 shots on goal against the Flash matched a season-high for 2014. Portland tallied 10 shots on goal in a 3-1 win over FC Kansas City on April 26.

·         Wednesday marked the fifth-ever time Portland has registered 10 or more shots on goal in a regular-season match, all of which have come at Providence Park.

·         Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer tied a season-high with seven saves on Wednesday and has logged seven saves in consecutive matches.

·         Defender Nikki Marshall made her 29th consecutive regular-season start for Thorns FC on Wednesday.

·         Forward Jessica McDonald scored her fifth goal of the season on Wednesday, while midfielder Allie Long registered her fourth – both NWSL career highs for each player.

·         Midfielder Angie Kerr has tallied an assist in consecutive matches, setting new NWSL career-high marks in assists (2) and points (2) through just seven matches in 2014.

·         Thorns FC have conceded five goals in seven matches, which ranks tied for fewest goals allowed in the league.

·         Portland is the only team with two players who rank among the top five in the NWSL in goal-scoring as McDonald (5 goals) ranks third and Long (4) ranks tied for fourth overall.

·         Long attempted 12 of the team’s club-record 13 corner kicks, setting the individual single-game record for corner kicks in a match.