Notes & Quotes | Flash 5, Thorns FC 0 | June 7, 2014

"We can’t come to this stadium, with these amazing fans, and play the game we did today."

NWSL POST-GAME QUOTES
Portland Thorns FC vs. Western New York Flash
June 7, 2014 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Final: Thorns FC 0, Western New York Flash 5

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley

His reaction to the result:
“It’s disappointing, obviously. We tanked in Boston. I thought there would be a great reaction tonight. We had an unbelievable week in practice. Just didn’t get it done. Gave up a soft first goal off a corner kick and obviously the penalty changed the game. From that point on we were chasing the game, fighting the game. It was a brilliant week of practice. I couldn’t have envisioned the performance after what I saw all week. Just have to get back to work tomorrow morning and see if we can put it right.”

On the sequence of events leading to Angerer’s red card:
“It was a poor ball from Nikki [Marshall]. She left it short. Nadine [Angerer] didn’t touch her. You can see from the tape she didn’t touch her. The referee went to the linesman. I don’t know if the fourth official called it, somebody else called it because she wasn’t going to give it. I thought to be honest with you, there was enough coverage going to goal and the ball was going out. Samantha [Kerr] wasn’t catching it, so she went down. Losing Nadine at that point means you’re a player short on the backline and even before that we looked like we’d lost our way. Early in the game, we got rattled again. Obviously Abby [Wambach] didn’t play and they had a little more pace up front. The pace caused us problems early in the game. Usually pace doesn’t cause us problems. It’s usually a creative player. Kerr was brilliant tonight. She was all over the place. Jasmyne Spencer was all over the place tonight. They caused an awful lot of problems and we were just out of sync tonight at the back, completely out of sync. Even at 1-0, we had a couple of great chances. I thought Jessica McDonald looked dangerous. Jess, Alex [Morgan] and Christine [Sinclair] were starting to look dangerous, but once the penalty had gone in and we’re down to 10 players, the game had changed at that point. We went to three at the back, trying to survive. We didn’t manage the game late in the half. We didn’t manage the game in Boston. We gave up a third goal before halftime. We did it again today. If we had held on maybe something would have changed. I’m not sure what. I put the team out on the field, so I have to take full responsibility. We just weren’t sharp enough. Maybe it’s over training, maybe it’s under training, but I’m the guy at the helm. I have to look at everything and try to improve it and put it back on the river going forward because right now we’re way off track, completely.”

On potential communication issues in the backline:
“I think obviously Rachel [Van Hollebeke] coming back in. I think you can even see second half, I thought Rachel did a good job of settling that unit down. You have an experienced player in Nikki Marshall. She’s not a big talker, but she’s a good footballer. I think Rachel will settle her down. The young ones looked young in the last couple games. We’ve gone down early and been a bit rattled. They’re showing their youth a little bit and I think Rachel will be able to settle us down. Rachel will be back in the lineup for sure next week. We didn’t think she was ready and if you asked her now she’d probably say she’s not 100%. Hopefully she will be by next week. We do need that leadership. I think it would help the younger ones to get her on the field. Steph Catley, obviously, has played internationally a lot, but she’s still just turned 20. It was her first game tonight. She looked a little bit rattled too. I have to take the blame. I pick the players and I thought Steph would settle right in and it was a difficult game for them in the back. We coughed up some easy chances and we never really got going in the midfield. Sinead [Farrelly], Allie [Long], Verónica [Boquete] never really got a grip on the ball in the midfield. It doesn’t matter how good your forward line is if you can’t get a grip of the ball in midfield. We just didn’t do it unfortunately.”

On how the integration of new players affected the team…
"If I’d been in Las Vegas after seeing them train, I would have put money on us tonight. We had a brilliant week of training. We had a full-field scrimmage on Wednesday where the teams were really good. I was delighted coming in. I thought everything was where it should be. That’s the disappointment factor. I was way off base because it didn’t work. You can talk about luck and 20 shots against 22 and you can talk about all that until the end of the day. We weren’t good enough and I have to figure out a way to get us there. Maybe we need to work harder defensively. We do a lot of attacking stuff in practice. Maybe we need to switch and start working on defense. Early in the season when Emily [Menges] was at college, we were doing better. Now that we’re all in here, we have them working together, they had a great week again, but come game-time they looked a little bit dysfunctional. We worked on the back four yesterday. They have probably the best goalkeeper in the world behind them. Just have to tweak something. You have to stop the bleeding first. Have to start in the back. That was the one thing I was happy with early in the season. We weren’t scoring a lot of goals, but at least we weren’t conceding. Now we’ve just opened the gates the last two games and we’ve struggled.”

On the situation Michelle Betos faced coming into the match:
“It’s a tricky situation, there’s no question. Obviously Michelle will play next week with Nadine being away with the German National Team. From that perspective, she played for Seattle here last year too, so she’s had a couple games at least in front of the crowd. It was difficult circumstances. She made a couple of good saves. I thought her feet were very good. But it’s always difficult. Michelle got up straight away as soon as the foul was made, hedging her bets it was going to be a red card. I’m pleased with Michelle. She talks well too. It’s not an easy thing to do, without a warm up, straight onto the field and face your first penalty. It was a tricky situation so I give her a lot of credit too for going into the game at that point.”

On Alex Morgan’s debut:
“I was happy with Alex. I feel bad because I wasn’t expecting to play her 90 [minutes] tonight. We figured 65-70, somewhere around there. One of the issues was whether we brought her in or started her. The week went so well that we felt she was ready to go. She had to go a little more than we expected due to the circumstances. The red card probably changed all the substitutions patterns. Obviously her touch is going to come. It’s going to get better with more training. But she caused problems. Her runs were very good. She got in really good areas tonight. Just didn’t get a bounce of the ball. Her work rate was great. I have no complaints. I thought Jess worked hard up front as well. We didn’t get anything for it. A couple half chances and I think Alex probably had two or three good ones. Now she’s going to the national team and she’s got two weeks to get even more fit and get in front of goal again and stay in front of goal.

On Verónica Boquete’s performance:
“I don’t think Veró can speak for herself. I don’t know if she had legs from the season. I don’t know what it was. That wasn’t the Veró I know. She’s a brilliant player, a highly motivated player. Maybe it was all just too much for her and Steph tonight. I put them straight in the lineup. I thought they’d be fine. Veró’s been at a high level, both internationally and with her club. I thought she would go into the lineup and it’d be seamless, but unfortunately it wasn’t seamless. She’ll play better, she’ll do better. I have great belief in the player of course. Steph is young. Maybe it was a bigger moment than I thought it was going to be for her. But you know what, they’ll be back at practice 11 o’clock tomorrow morning and we’ll get down to work. They’re here this week. They aren’t going away like some of the other players. I think that’s a good sign. Now again we’re looking for a reaction next week. We have another home game. Obviously we’re missing four players next week so it’ll give some of the other players a chance to come in. Rebecca Moros’ chance to come in, Mana [Shim] a chance to start, Angie [Kerr] a chance to start and they’ll be biting at the bit all week at practice. I just wish we could replicate practice, so you guys could see us at practice because they’ve been brilliant. I have belief in the group and the locker room is strong. Just didn’t expect what happened tonight unfortunately.”

On what he says to a team after a loss like this:
“You just try and find little things that maybe we can change. Maybe it’s the training time of the day. Maybe it’s the coach. Need to change something. I just said, maybe if you’d watched us train all week, you’d be like ‘Wow, man. It’s going to be a great game today.’ When Alex Morgan is in the lineup, they’re [fans] cheering. They gave Vero a great reception. They gave Catley a great reception. You just felt like this was going to be the night. This is the night we’re going to break out, get the job done. They’re missing Abby Wambach. Just didn’t happen. We just never got out of the gates. Even in the locker room before the game, I felt like there was a great buzz in the locker room. Prior to the game on the field I felt there was a great buzz. Even at halftime, the locker room is so strong. Even at halftime, I still thought we had a chance to get in the game. Just get one. Let’s win the second half at least. Let’s get the first one, see what happens. See if we can keep plugging away, maybe get a second. I’m forever the optimist, but that didn’t happen unfortunately.”

On potential changes to the backline:
“I think Rachel will come into the backline. It’s a matter of how we tweak it. We thought about bringing her in tonight, but we’re playing next week as well. We wanted to keep a lineup that’d be steady. Steph came in at left back. There’d probably be a change at right back. Emily would have gone out to right back and Rachel would come into the middle. I think there would be three changes in the backline. So besides just keeping it as it was, Rachel wasn’t 100%. Maybe try and work Rachel into the midfield for the last 20-25 minutes, but that had completely gone out the window. Everything went out the window as soon as Nadine got sent off. We should have battened down the hatches. Probably try and get into halftime down 2-3 nothing, but obviously that didn’t work in our favor.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan
On her assessments of her play in her first game back:
“The first 65 minutes I felt good, but I have to be realistic with myself with the fact that this is seven months to the day since I played a game. Keeping that in mind, I’m happy with individually how I did, but collectively as a team it’s frustrating and disappointing.”

On dealing with the high of coming back from the injury, and then with what followed in the game:
“I’ve been looking forward to this game, especially the fact that it’s Veró [Boquete]’s first game, it’s Steph [Catley]’s first game. I feel like we put a really great 11 out there on the field and a couple of unfortunate turn of events and we’re down 2-0, 3-0, and we can’t really get our feet under us. It was hard for me because I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time, but as a team there needs to be some changes definitely. I just need to get myself together and be positive looking forward because now I’m with the national team for the next two weeks, and hopefully I can continue to improve and recover. Even though my injury has recovered, physically and mentally, I’m still recovering.”

On her conditioning after coming back from the injury:
“I was done at the 70th minute, I couldn’t go any longer. Unfortunately we only had 10 men and we were out of subs, so that’s the way it went today, but I couldn’t run after the 70th minute. I haven’t trained for that period of time. I’m not game-fit. I think that I could tell that and people could tell that by the 70th, 75th minute.”

Portland Thorns FC defender Rachel Van Hollebeke
On her impressions of the game:
“It was just an incredibly disappointing game. You never want to ever lose like that, especially at home. I think the only thing we can do is just try to move on from it, try to learn from it. We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to be better. That wasn’t a good enough performance, and we are so much better than that so it was just very disappointing.”

On how the team is handling the addition of the new players in the lineup:
“I definitely think our team is in a little bit of a time of transition, and it will take a little bit of time to come together and really be a cohesive unit. That said, though, that’s still no excuse. I think that we’ve just got to come together as a team and really support each other, rally for each other, figure each other out as fast as possible and get better.”

On her fitness level after her injury:
“This was definitely a lot for me today. I haven’t played in almost two months, but I’m getting there. I’m doing my best and I’m obviously able to play now. I think between [head coach] Paul [Riley] and me and the medical staff we’ll just figure out where I’m at for each game, but I’m feeling pretty good.”

On what she saw from the bench during the first half:
“That’s just an interesting position to be in. You feel like you want to help and try to figure out how you can best help, what you can contribute, and just try to make whatever impact you can. You’ve got to do your best to pick the team up and try to help turn things around a little bit.”

Thorns FC midfielder Verónica Boquete
On her reaction to the game and how she felt she meshed with the team in her first game:
“I think that this is the worst beginning possible for me. This was my first game, and the week was great. Practice was amazing and the team was so focused, and today—we have to figure out what is going wrong, why we couldn’t do what we did in every practice. Now the ball is in our locker room. We have to fix this. We can’t come to this stadium, with these amazing fans, and play the game we did today. It’s not good enough.”

On how the team struggled against Western New Yorks’ attack:
“In a game that you lose 5-0, the easy thing to say is that the defense was not good enough, but we also couldn’t score. With the defense starting high, the pressure was not good enough. They found the space between the midfielders and we were too late when we wanted to push, and too late when we wanted to drop. It was just really hard because the first goal, then the second, the penalty, a red card, we have to be able to manage these kinds of games. We can go with a 1-0, 2-0 [deficit] into halftime, but we can never go in 4-0.”

On whether the team was anxious playing with so many new players:
“We can find lots of problems today. We can be here for an hour talking about all the problems—defense, offense, with the ball, without the ball—everyone has to take their responsibilities—forwards, midfielders, defenders, people on the bench, coaches—everyone has a responsibility with this big loss.

“Also, we tried to be positive. Championship teams build after a big loss. Let’s hope that this is our big loss and after this we go out and we can be strong.”

On whether she was nervous playing in her first game:
“No. I’ve played in too many important games. I’ve already played in the U.S. I was excited to play here, playing for Portland, at home. Everything was special of course, but no nerves. I just wanted to play and for everything to go well, but it didn’t work today.”

On her impressions of the crowd in her first game:
“I don’t have words for that. I’ve never seen anything similar or close. After the game, even with it 5-0, they stay there and they just cheer throughout. This [performance] is not good enough. We can’t play like that and lose in front of our fans. They deserve a big team and we have to be great. Not good, we have to be great.”

Notes:

  • Forward Alex Morgan made her first appearance for Thorns FC since entering as a substitute in the 71st minute of the 2013 NWSL Championship game on Aug. 31, 2013.
     
  • Defender Steph Catley, midfielder Verónica Boquete and goalkeeper Michelle Betos made their season debuts for Portland on Saturday night.
     
  • Western New York and Thorns FC combined for 38 shots on Saturday night. It marked the second time this season the two teams combined for 35 or more shots after tallying 37 attempts in their meeting on May 21.
     
  • With 17 shots on Saturday, Portland has recorded double-digit shot attempts in six consecutive games, as well as nine of 10 games this season.
     
  • Defender Nikki Marshall made her 32nd consecutive regular-season start for Thorns FC on Saturday.
     
  • Forward Christine Sinclair recorded four or more shots for the fifth consecutive game.