Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 7, FC Kansas City 1 | July 13, 2014

Long: We needed this big time. We’re taking every game like a playoff game.

NWSL POST-GAME QUOTES
Portland Thorns FC vs. FC Kansas City
July 13, 2014 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Final: Thorns FC 7, FC Kansas City 1

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley
On Alex Morgan’s performance:
“I don’t think she’s a 100% game shape. She’ll agree in one sense, the sharpness sense, but probably not agree in the fitness sense. I think it was just the shock of it and then she said ‘I feel great.’ I think she had her best game by far today. We put Sinc [Christine Sinclair] higher up and Alex underneath. I don’t know if it helped them, but they just looked a little more in sync. Obviously getting those two on the same wavelength would be a huge plus as we get the run into the playoffs.”

“It was the other ankle. I think she was just more frightened. She’d been out a long time, so I think anytime a tackle comes in like that, it just leaves a little question mark in the back of her mind. We were getting her out but she had a terrific game today. The energy of the front group hasn’t always been like that, but today they closed people down. They made it difficult. We knew Nicole Barnhart couldn’t kick. She’s got a knock. So the fact that we could get in tighter to them and put some pressure on them. There were a lot of turnovers in the first half, in their half of the field and that allowed us to get the ball a bit higher than where we probably would get it.”

On the playoff picture and final games of the season:
“I think in our own mind we know. The players know. We’re just trying to take it one game at a time. We knew coming in here, we had to give a good home performance. We haven’t given one all season, to be honest with you. We’ve had decent performances, but we haven’t really gotten the goals and I think that’s what we wanted to do. I didn’t expect it to be this kind of score line. I think we’ve had some great energy. Even in Chicago, which is a tough place to play, we had great energy. If we just bring that verve and that energy, we’d have a good result. I didn’t give them a day off. We’ve kept them in here, even if it’s just looking at tape, just doing something so we’re around each other and they’re not hiking around or canoeing the rivers. I want to keep them and its going to be like that for the next six weeks. They’re going to probably be so sick of me talking to them in the next six weeks, but whatever it takes just to get in [the playoffs]. We’ll take anything at this point: fourth, third, second, whatever it is we’re striving for. We just want to get in and hopefully we can do some damage when we get in. But we have a lot of work ahead of us. Chicago had a great result last night against Seattle, so now we have to go into the cauldron and it’s a tough place to play. We have to be almost a little bit different than today. Today we played some great football and there we’ll have to play some great football. It’s going to be a difficult game for us, but hopefully we’ll get some points.”

On if he’s willing to say how many points it will take to get to the playoffs:
“No I’m not. The girls know. We’ve talked about it. It’s a lot of points. We need a lot. We haven’t given up on second [place]. It’s a tall order, there’s no question. Obviously today helped us a little bit. Just getting into the playoffs is really our main goal at this point. It’d be great to get a home game, but we have to get some help as well. We’re not in a position where we can just win out at this point. Chicago is on a run, Washington had a good result last night, Western New York’s challenging. I think there’s still some life left in a couple of the other teams too, even below that. I think the league will be happy with the fact that all these teams are trying to get in the playoffs and just have to keep plugging along.”

On how this performance will influence the team moving forward:
“I think this is the first time we’ve actually had the full team. I said earlier in the week if we were two weeks into the season I’d be a really happy guy because I really feel we’ve spent a lot of time with Alex, Sinc and Vero [Boquete], particularly in the last couple of weeks. Obviously with Tobin [Heath] coming, just getting them into the final third and that’s where we’ve had the problems. We’ve created a lot of chances or half chances and not put them away. We’re the highest shooting team in the league, we have the most shots in the league and yet we’re in sixth place. So obviously, putting them in the back of the net and finding some chemistry in the final third is really what we’ve been trying to do. We haven’t spent a ton of time with the back four, to be honest with you. Been looking at the other end of the field and trying to put things right, but give credit to the back four too today. Emily Menges, again young player, came in today had a great game. Rebecca Moros came into the lineup, had a great game. Rachel [Van Hollebeke] was banged up a little bit, so we gave her a breather and it worked to our advantage. We gave Sarah Huffman a breather. She’d had a couple of great games in the run. It’s a matter of trying to keep everybody fresh and keeping them sharp and fresh and that’s going to be the management side of it the next six weeks.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Allie Long
On the plays the led to both of her goals against FC Kansas City:
“The first goal, I picked off the pass and found Sinc, and we did a give-and-go. Nicole Barnhart did a great job of coming up, and the only space that I kind of saw was through her legs and so I was just aiming for that and was lucky enough to hit it through. The second goal, Sinc made a good run to clear out a space and I found it in behind, and Vero played a great ball in. I just took my first touch to goal and tried to bend it to the far post.”

On playing as an attacking midfielder against FC Kansas City when she had played more defensively in previous games:
“Paul has told me when I play defensive mid to take my creative card and put it in my back pocket, and kind of just stay disciplined. It does take away from part of my game, but I also really like the aspect of just sitting there and protecting the defense, and basically just keeping possession and starting the attack. Whereas as an attacking mid, I’m getting the ball off the defensive mid, and I’m kind of creating and looking to find Alex and Sinc and create some stuff and hopefully get some goals.”

On the team’s satisfaction with the win:
“We needed this big time. This was a huge game for us. Going into it, we knew that, and we’re taking every game like a playoff game. That might sound a little crazy being that it’s July, but that’s kind of the situation that we’re in, and we wanted a huge game. We, mentally, were prepared for this and we just wanted to be ruthless like the [World Cup-winning] Germans.”

On the differences in the team’s attack that led to the 7-1 win:
“We just finished our chances today. Other games we’ve created a bunch of chances, and we just missed that last final goal, or that final ball to create the goal, and today everything finally went our way. I thought the past couple of games we’ve been a little bit unlucky, and maybe put ourselves in a hole by not finishing early chances, but today we just finished opportunities and it felt really good.”

On how she’s been able to increase her goal total this season:
“Paul has given me the freedom to do that in this formation. He’s kind of given me, Tobin and Vero…he wants us on the ball all the time, and he tells the team to ‘feed us, feed us’ and always give us the ball, and when we get it to just be creative. I think the freedom I get from the coach, and when I play defensive mid you can tell I maybe don’t produce or I’m more reserved, that’s because I’m more disciplined, but in the attacking role I’m able to kind of have the freedom. This offseason I’ve really worked hard on being creative and going to goal and doing that type of stuff, so now putting myself in that situation, it’s been working out so I just have to keep going.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Verónica Boquete
On the plays that led to her goal:
 “I think there’s one where I did a kind of fake and then with my right foot I crossed it to inside the box. The second time was an easy one, it was just a penalty kick.”

On what was different in the team’s attack against FC Kansas City from the last couple of games:
“I think that we found the way. It was not that this team didn’t do well before, that we didn’t try or didn’t practice hard, we did everything the same. But maybe today we really needed this win, and when you need it, you always give something more, and today was maybe the last chance we got after Chicago won last night. We really knew that no one was going to help us, we had to help ourselves, and so we had to start to win games, especially at home.”

On how her chemistry with the team’s other attacking players has improved:
“It’s not easy when you have players who come from other countries, other teams, other styles and players who come back from injuries. Everything takes time. We weren’t that bad before. We have to keep going. I know that 7-1 seems like, ‘oh, they finally found everything and now everything’s going to work,’ but Thursday we have to play another 90 minutes against Chicago and we have to do the same, and if not, the result will be different.”

On whether her and the other attacking players have turned a corner in their chemistry together:
“I want to believe that this is the point that changes everything. We tried the last few games to find this connection and to find a good result, and we were better sometimes, we were fixing things, but now finally, one game like today always gives everybody more confidence.

On the importance of Thursday’s game at Chicago with both teams tied in the standings and fighting for a playoff berth:
“It’s a final. For us, it’s a final. For Chicago, it’s a final. We know that not all the games will be like a final, but this is a real one. It’s two teams that are fighting to be in the playoffs. It will be hard. We know that the last two games were a surprise. We know them. They know us. Maybe we wish that we could play here. Chicago’s field is not that good for us, it’s hard to combine, but we don’t have an excuse. We have four days to recover and Thursday we have to get back at it.”

On what the team will focus on before Thursday’s game at Chicago:
“I think for the last two games that we played against Chicago, it’s a team that plays really direct, so the second ball will be the most important thing. There are a lot of second balls that we’ve not been getting the last two games [against Chicago], and these give the other team really good chances, so we have to be able to take these second balls, and after that, play good balls. I think it will make a difference from the last two games.”

On how Thorns FC forwards Alex Morgan’s and Christine Sinclair’s goals against FC Kansas City will help their confidence going forward:
“It’s really hard when a forward doesn’t score. You hear everyone talking like, ‘oh, they are not scoring,’ ‘oh, we have to score,’ ‘oh, they are not scoring,’ ‘we have to score.’ That gives you anxiety, and it’s really hard. You try your best and it’s not working, but the team was not working, so it’s not the forwards’ fault. It’s also because the team did not give them the best balls, and I think now we are trying to find it and we are much better, we are much better, and we need the forwards to be at our best.”

Notes:

  • Thorns FC set NWSL records on Sunday for most goals scored in a single game (7) and largest margin of victory (6).
  • Defender Nikki Marshall made her 39th consecutive regular-season start for Thorns FC on Sunday.
  • Boquete’s goal in the third minute tied a Thorns FC record for the quickest goal in a match. Forward Alex Morgan scored in the third minute against Chicago on May 12, 2013.
  • Five different players scored in a match for Thorns FC for the first time in club history. Previously, four players scored against Washington on June 21 and against FC Kansas City on June 6, 2013.
  • Seven players tallied a point in the match, the most players to tally a point in a single match in club history. Six players registered a point for Portland against Washington on June 21.
  • Portland outscored FC Kansas City 8-2 in two regular-season matches at Providence Park this season.
  • Sunday’s match marked the second time this season two Thorns FC players have registered a brace in the same match (Allie Long and Verónica Boquete). Forwards Alex Morgan and Jessica McDonald each scored a brace in a 6-1 win at Washington on June 21.
  • Boquete set a new Thorns FC single-game record with six points (2g, 2a), breaking the previous record set by Alex Morgan (5 points) on June 21 at Washington.
  • Portland is 7-0-2 when scoring the first goal in a match this season.
  • Thorns FC have tallied three or more goals against FC Kansas City in four of the eight meetings all-time.
  • Portland and FC Kansas City have combined to score 35 goals in eight meetings all-time. Thorns FC have scored 21 of the 35 goals.
  • Midfielder Allie Long has scored five goals in eight games against FC Kansas City.
  • Midfielder Amber Brooks scored her first goal for the club, while defender Steph Catley tallied her first assist for Thorns FC on Sunday.
  • Long and Boquete became the fourth and fifth players in club history to record a brace along with forwards Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair and Jessica McDonald.
  • There have been five braces scored by a Thorns FC player this season: McDonald (2), Morgan (1), Long (1), Boquete (1).
  • Sunday marked the second time this season Thorns FC have scored four goals in a single half. Portland scored four goals in the second half against Washington on June 21.