Quotes & Notes | Thorns FC 2, Red Stars 2

Huffman: I think we fought hard, but not hard enough. We have a lot of lessons we can take away

Jessica McDonald Chicago Red Stars July 4 2014

Photo Credit: 
Meg Williams/Portland Thorns FC

NWSL POST-GAME QUOTES
Portland Thorns FC vs. Chicago Red Stars
July 4, 2014 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Final: Thorns FC 2, Chicago Red Stars 2

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley
On the difference between the first and second halves:
“I thought we started the second half with a couple great chances. Jess [McDonald] has two great chances. One in the air and one off a cross I think from Steph [Catley]. Alex [Morgan] had two great chances and we probably would have been on four or five, but we didn’t put it away and we kept them around. They’re a young, energetic team and they pushed on. We gave a soft goal up. I thought the first goal was very soft. You give a team a little joy, at that point in the game they started to push on and caused us some trouble second half. But the game should have been over and done with, with the chances we had in the first half. Certainly the early second half we had four great chances. That first half was some great stuff and we probably should have come in three or four-nil up at halftime but we didn’t. Seems to be part of the reason we’re in the position we’re in. Just don’t seem to be able to put the game away.”

On if the lack of scoring is becoming a mental issue:
“It could be. I mean, I don’t know. We had a good chat this week about a lot of different things. We had a good team meeting where we aired some things and stuff. They’re really positive. It’s not like Alex believes she’s not going to score or Sinc believes she’s not going to score or Veró doesn’t believe she’s going to score. They all go out and we spent the whole week on the final third of the field. This is the formation we wanted to play all season. Without Tobin [Heath] it was difficult. With Tobin in the lineup it makes it easy for us. Chances come and chances go and eventually you pay the price. We seem to pay the price every time. I don’t know what the shots were tonight. I didn’t see the stats before I came in, but we had enough shots to win the game, no question. Should have won the game.”

On the decision to not start Christine Sinclair:
“Sinc looks tired. She’s looked tired the last couple of weeks for me. It was merely with six games in the next two-and-a-half weeks, there’s a lot of games coming up. Obviously we wanted to go to a 4-4-2. We played a diamond, which is the preferred formation coming into the season. So I wanted them to go out and we felt it was a good opportunity to rest Sinc and give her a bit of a blow. Get some hunger back. She was in residency with Canada for a good six months before she came into camp and I just want to get some life back in her. I told her before the game and she’s good with it and the team moved on. I think you’ll see Jess and Sinc together. I think you’ll see Alex and Jess together, you’ll see Alex and Sinc together. It’s just a matter of finding which works best as we get towards the end of the season. But in saying that, as good as they were today, we scored off two set-pieces. We didn’t score in the run of play. With Veró and Tobin and those guys creating a lot of chances, we just have to finish them. We just didn’t. Spent the whole week in front of goal, that’s all I can tell you. First half I was really happy. Some great football. We switched the point of attack really well. Steph has settled down. She got forward a lot. Sarah [Huffman] did a good job on the right-hand side and obviously got a goal. Allie Long had a great first half. I thought all the pieces looked really good and thought now we can build on this. I think the third goal is such a crucial thing. We said at halftime ‘Let’s get after the third goal. Let’s get the third goal and finish the game.’ Those four chances we missed during the time it was 2-0, we paid the price. We didn’t get it done. You got a young team on the other side. They had a bit of energy, coach gets off the bench all of a sudden and gets them going. They go 2-1 and they start pushing numbers forward. They’ve got nothing to lose at this point. [Lori] Chalupny caused us some problems. The second goal was off a second ball. We won the first one and we didn’t get the second ball in the defensive midfield area. You have to do that and she [Christen Press] hit a beautiful shot.”

On Tobin Heath’s return to the team:
“I’ve had Tobin before at a couple of teams. I love Tobin as a player. She’s a great footballer. First half she was dynamic and got in the game. She and Veró looked really good together. Then she started mucking around with the ball a little bit for me, in that 5-10 minutes prior to them getting back in game. I said to Tobin ‘It’s not like playing in the French league.’ Maybe playing in the French league you can mickey around with the ball when you’re winning four or five-nothing. But in this league, nothing is safe in this league, because the teams are so good. But she’s a great footballer. She’ll bring a lot to us, especially going forward. She’s so clean on the ball. She doesn’t give the ball away. It’s her first game, in all fairness to her. She’s played 70 minutes coming off her flight and everything else. I think she’ll settle in and she’ll be good for us.”

On if there are concerns about making the playoffs:
“I wish you’d come in for the team talk. Urgency, before the game, there was a lot of urgency in the group. I don’t think that’s a problem for us. There is urgency, but we’re running out of games. Obviously the desperation point comes when the points go off the table. We’ve let a really great position go at 2-0 to get three points at home. Now you’ve got the difficult part of going to Chicago twice in the next three games, which isn’t an easy place to go, on a field that’s the size of this room. It’s not going to be easy. But you just have to finish games. I don’t think it’s a lack of effort. The effort is there, I think it is anyway. I’m the coach and the locker room was great before the game. In the locker room they were pumped up. You look in their eyes and they look like they’re ready to play. Great first half. We had a great chat at halftime and everyone was pretty antsy to get out and get a third goal and ice the game. Just didn’t get it done. I don’t get desperate. Just keep plugging along. The highs don’t get high and the lows don’t get low, I think we’ve said that a few times this season. Just have to keep going. I said to them before the game, ‘Performance equals points. If we play really well, we’ll get the points.’ First half we played really well. Second half we played well for 15 minutes, didn’t finish the game off and that’s why we didn’t get three points.”

On if there was a lack of urgency when the game was tied:
“I think any team, in all fairness… you’ve played a lot of sports, I’m sure you’ve played sports, you’re 2-0 up in a great position. All of a sudden you’ve had four, five great chances and then all of a sudden the other team scores. Then the whole mental thing changes. Plus we’ve been on the receiving end of those types of things, I think. For us, that mental part of the game probably isn’t where it could be because of the situation we’ve had at home. Then you start to question everything and when you start to question everything you get yourself in trouble. You could say it was work rate. We stopped getting the second balls. We stopped reading the game. Our pressure relaxed a little bit. You’re probably right. At 2-2, as the home team, maybe push on again. We didn’t really push on until the last five minutes. We created again a couple more half chances, but nothing you could say. I watch the Timbers here and the last 10 minutes are chaotic, no matter what it is. They’re all over them and they’re pushing for a goal. We want to do that too. We didn’t do it and we haven’t done it really, to be honest with you. It’s something that we’ve been discussing and we’ve discussed it in the locker room, discussed it in practice and just need to get it done.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Jessica McDonald

On the changes in halves:
“Our tempo definitely changed from the first half in comparison to the second, we were more lackadaisical, I guess you could say. We wanted to keep that lead and we didn’t, that was our focus in the second half and to get a third goal, but that didn’t happen. At the same time, we still kept fighting and didn’t give up. It is a downfall that we did give up two goals to tie the game up.”

On combining in the attack with Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan:
“It’s extraordinary because those are players I still look up to, being some of the world’s greatest at this point. We’re all different types of forwards which makes it a special front line. We read off each other, we know that if Sinc wants the ball at her feet, the other forward needs to try and go for that through ball. It’s all about getting used to each other’s strengths at the same time. It’ll work for one some day with all of us up top together.”

On scoring against one of her former teams:
“Just like any other team. It’s an amazing feeling either way because I would love for the three points to fall through, but it didn’t happen. We are going to go into the next game, keep our heads up and hopefully dominate the next game.”

On playing Chicago again on Wednesday:
“Same game. They’re going to be at their home turf so I think they’ll come at us a little earlier in the game because they’re going to be more comfortable on their home field. I think the tempo will probably change. They might come at us a little more than they did this game.”

Portland Thorns FC defender Sarah Huffman
On whether the draw feels more like a loss:
“Definitely. I think when you go up 2-0 in the first half and you let the team back in. I think we fought hard, but not hard enough. We have a lot of lessons we can take away from this. We scored first, which was one of our objectives today, but I think all of us definitely feel we let them back in the game and that’s unacceptable. We just have to find a way when we do get the lead, to keep it. We definitely have something to build upon, but it doesn’t feel like a tie, that’s for sure.”

On getting all the pieces to fit before the playoffs:
“I think it’s getting down to crunch time. A lot of the teams are close together. It’s a short season, but it is a journey. We’re not going to hang our heads. Today we didn’t grind it out and we need to learn how to. We all believe in each other in the locker room. Our journey is to be peaking come the end of August, but to get there we need to start moving forward and that’s what we’re going to focus on doing.”

On whether preparations will change ahead of visiting Chicago on Wednesday:
“That’s what coach will figure out. For us as players, now seeing them, we can look back at the game and evaluate what worked, what didn’t work. In the first half we had the ball quite a bit and in the second half we just let them have it more. It’s a lot of things we can fix and we can adjust and just not let up our pressure. It’ll be good to go into their home and hopefully take three points.”

Notes:

  • Forward Jessica McDonald’s ninth goal of the season set a new single-season club record, breaking the previous record of eight goals scored by forwards Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan during the 2013 season.
     
  • McDonald is currently tied for second in the NWSL in goal scoring.
     
  • Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath made her first appearance of the 2014 season in the match, starting and playing 85 minutes.
     
  • Defender Nikki Marshall made her 37th consecutive regular-season start for Thorns FC on Friday.
     
  • Defender Sarah Huffman scored her first goal career goal for Thorns FC in the match.
     
  • Midfielder Verónica Boquete tallied her team-leading third assist of the season and her third assist in the last four matches.
     
  • Defender Rachel Van Hollebeke tallied her third career assist for Portland on Friday.
     
  • Portland has tallied double-digit shot attempts in all eight home matches this season.
     
  • The last two matches at Providence Park between Chicago and Portland have both been draws. The two teams played to a 3-3 draw on July 28, 2013.
     
  • Thorns FC are 2-1-2 all-time against the Red Stars.
     
  • Portland is 6-0-1 when scoring the first goal in a match this season.