Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 1, Seattle Reign FC 0 | Aug. 17, 2014
Portland Thorns FC Quotes
Portland Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley
On securing a place in the playoffs with this result…
“I think we’re already in Kansas. Get ready for Kansas. Hats off to the players. I thought if we could keep the game tight, close, 1-0, 2-1, we could win the game. If it became a slugfest, I thought we’d get beat. We tried to keep the game tighter than normal and I thought the game plan worked well. Amber [Brooks] and Allie [Long] were brilliant in the two defensive midfield slots. The three in front of them worked their tails off. Alex [Morgan] obviously had a goal disallowed that should have been a goal. I thought it was a really good performance defensively. Nadine [Angerer] made a couple cracking saves, which always helps. There’s no question about that. They were at key times in the game, especially the second one. It was a good performance.”
On Alex Morgan’s performance…
“The goal she scored was a cracker, an absolute cracker. It’s obviously tough with Jess [McDonald] and Christine Sinclair making the decision who we play up front. We’ve gone with Alex. She’s had a rough time in front of goal and I think she’d be the first one to tell you that. But you just have faith because on the big stage she’s going to come up with a big moment. Even on the bench, some thought ‘oh maybe Alex looks tired.’ I go ‘Alex has one in her.’ You have to keep Alex on the park. You just never know. She worked her tail off and I thought she was very good today. One of the issues we’ve had is trying to link her in with Sinc and Vero. They linked pretty well today.”
On the team coming together ahead of the playoffs…
“Obviously yesterday we were scoreboard watching. Lot of text messages floating around after the games yesterday. We just wanted an opportunity today to play for it. It still would have been a derby game. We would have prepared for it like any other game, but I think the fact that the results went our way yesterday almost gave us an advantage going into the game. We almost felt like we were 1-0 up before we went into the game. We got off to a really good start too in the game. We possessed the ball really well. We didn’t run all over the field doing stupid things and pressuring the wrong areas. We curtailed Kim Little, which is not easy to do, She’s a brilliant player, and [Megan] Rapinoe. Again, I thought Becca [Moros] was brilliant today. Emily [Menges] for a 21-year old, I thought was outstanding today. Rachel [Van Hollebeke] had her best game of the year. Nadine probably had her best game of the year. Sarah Huffman came in, difficult circumstances. Rachel had to come inside, Huff came in, did a good job on Naho [Kawasumi], who is a very, very good player out wide. We were ready for the game. The locker room was different today. Just felt different. Almost felt like it was halftime when I went into the locker room. We were already winning 1-0. They were really up for the game. If you can’t get up for this one, with it being a derby, 17,000 fans, and playing for everything, then I’m not sure football should be in your future.”
On whether more improvement is needed heading into the playoffs…
“I still think we need to do better if we’re going to win this thing, if we have to go to Kansas and win away from home. Our away form has been poor over the last month, month-and-a-half. Early in the season it was good and we need to improve it. The thing is, are you away from home or are you just at a place where you have to play 90 minutes and it’s all on the line. That’s how we’re going to approach the game. It’s going to be 100 degrees probably, 105 degrees. We’ll do our best to prepare the team. We match up pretty well with Kansas. If I’d had the choice of who to play, it would be Kansas. They’re a good side. They play great football, which I think helps us too. We seem to do well against the teams that play football, as opposed to teams that play direct. The teams in the playoffs, all four teams like to play football. It’s a good sign and I think that plays to our advantage. We have a lot of work to do. Obviously Alex and Allie will be off in the morning, so we won’t see them until close to game time, which will be difficult for preparations. Obviously, Nikki Marshall is out, so we’ll have to figure that one out. The players are on a super high right now. I think practice tomorrow will be a lot more fun than it might have been had the result not gone our way. In terms of the peaking, I don’t think we’ve ever peaked. We’ve shown great moments and then next week we go ‘What happened today?’ Then we showed a great moment again and then we go ‘Oh, what happened today?’ You guys have seen a lot of the games and I think the one thing I’m proud of is the home form. The last five, six games have been really good. I said at the beginning of the season ‘You have to win your home games.’ You win your home games, you get in the playoffs and we just about sneaked over the line in the end by winning our home games. It’s probably the difference in the end.”
On losing a couple players to international friendlies in the buildup to the playoffs…
“It would have been good for everybody to have all their players. Kansas is missing five. We’re missing two. I’m sure Tobin [Heath], had she been fit, would have been three. So I’m kind of glad she wasn’t fit when they announced the squad. It is difficult. Allie has been with us all season, so it’s fine. The more time Alex spends with Sinc and Vero the better. It’s as simple as that. She knows Tobin pretty well. She knows Allie pretty well. But it is what it is. Everybody’s in the same boat, all four teams going into the playoffs. We have a quick turnaround. We play Saturday, not Sunday. So obviously for Allie and Alex it’s a tight turnaround from Wednesday. But at least they’re in Carolina, so they’ll be on the east coast. That’ll be some aid to it anyway.”
On the defense getting a shutout ahead of the playoffs…
“Some of it’s the way they played. Some of it’s what happened in front of them. I thought we were a little hotter in front picking up second balls, picking up first balls, which we haven’t done enough of to help them out. It was a whole defensive performance today, not just the back four. Certainly Amber and Allie did their share of work. There were a lot of last ditch tackles that maybe we wouldn’t have seen a month ago. I don’t know. We talked about clean sheets a lot. Before the game I talked to the TV people, I said ‘We’ve got to keep the game close. This can’t be a game that’s a slugfest. We have to keep it tight.’ If we’re 20 minutes to go and it’s 0-0, I’m happy with that. That gives us a chance to push on and win the game. We were just about to push on and win the game when we scored. Hats off to them. They’ve worked their tails off. It’s hard to tell everyone what [the Thorns] have done. They train more than any other team. There are no half measures. They give you everything. I’ve got no complaints with them and just finally they get some just rewards. We’ve been a bit unlucky. When Alex’s goal didn’t get allowed, we were all looking at each other like ‘Oh not again. It’s going to be one of those days.’ But they kept at it and kept at it. I think we’ve scored off three corner kicks and we’ve had 150 or something. It only takes one I guess to get you into the playoffs. Now it’s about getting down to business, getting ready for Kansas City. Nine of their players played for me in Philadelphia, so I know the team pretty well. We have to provide the same work ethic, or otherwise we won’t get the job done.”
On Tobin Heath’s impact on the field…
“I think it’s not even Tobin’s impact on the field. It’s just Tobin’s influence being around. The couple of weeks we’ve been without her, we’ve struggled a little bit. She keeps the ball when you’re struggling to get a breather, she keeps a hold of the ball. She’s got a good work rate for a top player. She’s clever. She very rarely gives the ball away. I think she can be the future number 10 for the U.S. I think she can play Vero’s position for the U.S. Women’s National Team. I think playing with Vero has done her a world of good. I’ve coached Tobin a couple of times in the past. I love having Tobin around. Having Tobin all week has been good for her fitness levels. She was about 80 percent going into the game. Hopefully by next weekend we can get her at 90 percent or close.”
On Steph Catley’s injury status…
“Potential. She’s got potential to make it. She was on the AlterG. She’s pretty much 100 percent on that. Just the weight bearing. She tried running the last two days and it just didn’t work. We wrapped her up and said ‘Don’t worry. Let’s get you to Monday morning. We’ll assess it Monday.’ I think, almost unquestionably, we’ll take her to Kansas with us. We’ll make a late decision if she gets fit. In all fairness, Huff did a great job on, probably, one of the best players in the world out there. Kawasumi’s clever and she caused us a few problems, but Huff did a really good job. Can’t thank the players enough. It was a great performance all the way around.”
Portland Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan
On the battle with Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo…
“In the first half, luck definitely was not going my way. Had a few chances. I thought we played really well against them in the first half. Had most of the possession. I had a lot of shots and the one that went in wasn’t counted. So in the second half, we had a couple encounters, Hope and I. Finally on that corner kick, Allie played a great ball in and my run was to the near post and my goal was just to get in front of my defender and get it in and luckily it went in. Out of all the chances, I think I’m pretty good shooting with my feet, not so good with my head, but a goal’s a goal.”
On her reaction to seeing her header to go in the goal…
“Well initially it hit the near post defender, so I wasn’t sure it went it. When I saw it finally bounce completely over the line, I was just so excited because it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a goal, but just the fact that we’d had so many shots, the game was more in our favor. I thought that we’d started to get complacent a little and let Seattle play a little. So I think the goal was at the right time to put us up and make sure that we held onto that lead.”
On how a result like this benefits the team heading into the playoffs…
“There really wasn’t any choice for us. We couldn’t tie. We couldn’t lose. It was either we make the playoffs with a win or we’re not making the playoffs. I like the fact that everyone stepped up when the pressure was on, when the 90 minutes we had left was up to us, our fate was up to us. I think that we played really well given the circumstances. I’m really looking forward to this next game. Allie and I have a midweek game with the National Team. It’s just so important for us all to recover, especially us going to Kansas City. They’ve had probably 14 days in between their last game and the game against us in the playoffs. That definitely plays a factor, so every day counts starting now.”
On if her goal will help her confidence in front of goal…
“As a forward, obviously scoring always helps with confidence. It’s been a while since I’ve scored. The minutes rack up and as much as you don’t want to think about it, sometimes it is sitting in the back of your mind. I think that I was very unlucky in the first half. Sometimes it’s just not going my way. So I’m glad that I got the goal and it was in an important game like this because we needed the win. There was no other choice. So it definitely helps me moving forward into the playoffs.”
On if the team can advance in the playoffs and defend their title…
“I think that we do well against Kansas City. I think we match up well. I’m happy to be going back to play them in the semifinals. I know that it’s a good matchup. Lauren Holiday is a big engine of that team and we’ve played them enough this year and last year to know their strengths and weaknesses. I’m excited to play them in the semifinals because they and Seattle are our toughest opponents in this league and if we get both of them in the playoffs then that really decides who the best team in this league is.”
On what the success the Thorns had last year does for the team ahead of this year’s playoffs…
“We noticed that every team was against us this year. All the results went against us leading into the playoffs and then yesterday we were given a great opportunity by the teams dropping points that needed to win and that gave us one last chance and put the fate in our hands. We took it and ran with it, which I’m happy to see. I talked to the girls earlier, before the game and said ‘It’s true Portland fashion that we would leave it up to us these last 90 minutes to make it or not into the playoffs.’ But when it came down to it, we get the work done and we know we have the support in the locker room from our teammates, from our coaches, from these 18,000 fans that were here tonight. We know we have that support and we want to keep that championship title here in Portland.”
On whether she’s concerned about transitioning from the U.S. Women’s National Team back to the Thorns ahead of the NWSL semifinal…
“It’s only Allie and I going, so I’d be a little more concerned if we had four or five players going into camp. I know Jill Ellis, the national team coach, is going to be conscious that there are certain players playing on Saturday, playing on Sunday and out of the playoffs. I think she’s going to manage those players pretty well, so I’m not worried about it.”
Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Nadine Angerer
On her emotions at the end of the match…
“I’m totally happy of course. We had to win today and I think from the first minute, we played amazing. I think it was our best game of the whole season. We worked so hard together and our system was working today. I think we’re much stronger with two defensive midfielders. It makes it so we have a good connection between the defense and the midfield. It was totally great teamwork today.”
On her emotions knowing the team won and made it into the playoffs…
“I was thinking ‘thank you’ that the game was over because even until the last second it was exciting. I never felt 100 percent safe because we’ve allowed too many goals this season to be honest. I was so concentrated on every single ball. The whole defense, the whole team was so concentrated and I just wanted the game to be over. Then I was really happy.”
On what the team needs to do to advance in the playoffs…
“Today everybody could see that we can play amazing. I don’t think Seattle wasn’t motivated. I think we made it very hard for them. They wanted to win against us. It’s a derby, but they had no solution because we played really well. We have to continue now. We don’t have to go there and say ‘Oh, Alex is going to score. Christine is going to score and maybe the defense is going to defend everything.’ No, we have to work together. Not think that everybody else will do your job. Everybody has to bring their input.”
On big players coming up in big games…
“In general, of course every one of us wants to be good in every game. We have a lot of experience. I’m a ‘grandma’, so I’ve played a few tournaments. I’ve got experience. Today I was very calm and tried to give my best. Same of Alex and Sinc. We have such a great team, everybody is able to make an impact.”
On which was her most difficult save…
“It’s like in a movie. You’re following the ball, following the ball. Actually you have these kinds of saves quite often in training, but the most important thing is to show it in the games. I’m used to it because I practice so much with my goalkeeper coach and Michelle Betos. That’s the reason why we train.”
On what this result and this performance means for the team going into the playoffs…
“For us, we were already up for it, to be honest. First it’s like, it’s such a comeback. We are so happy now. Now we know we all have a second chance. We have to take it now. We have to go with the right attitude. We have to go to Kansas City. We are strong, but we also know we lost to them in Kansas City. We beat them here twice, but we lost in Kansas City. They’re absolutely beatable, but we have to be totally focused on the game.”
Portland Thorns FC midfielder Vero Boquete
On her emotions from the Boston game compared to the win tonight…
“Well after the Boston game, everyone was destroyed. It was a really hard loss and we knew we had to win that game and we didn’t. Everyone was so disappointed. We almost stopped believing this could be possible. I think that the key was that this week we practiced like there was no tomorrow. Every game, every practice was so hard, so intense. When you have that energy all around, it makes everything easier. You believe. Yesterday the whole team was focused on those two games and when we saw that Washington lost, the whole team was so happy. The only thing we wanted was to have the chance to come here today with the possibility that if we win, we are in. The feeling right now is amazing and the feeling during the whole game was amazing.”
On what the team needs to do to win two more games and defend their title…
“Play like today. It was hard. We won 1-0 and it was really hard. They couldn’t score. It was a great game. They have great players and I think that we showed that if we play together, if we run together, if we really focus we can win this title. I think that Seattle knows. I think Kansas City knows and I think that Washington knows. Let’s see if we can continue on this line and we can keep fighting every practice. If we practice well, we’re going to play better.”
On what a result and a win like this does for the team ahead of the match against Kansas City…
“It’s a massive push. I don’t know how many people were here today, but it was again amazing. These fans deserve everything. Let’s hope, who knows, if we win in Kansas and Seattle lose, we can give them what they deserve: a final championship here in Portland. This city deserves it. I hope they all enjoyed today. We beat Seattle. This is extra motivation and now we have to continue together and fight until the end.”
On her role in front of two defensive midfielders…
“I felt more protected actually. Today the team was more compact in defense, so every ball that we lost, we had numbers behind. That makes it easy for the players that are more offensive. We feel protected. We trust in the players behind us. I just tried to give my best, to work hard until the end and I think that all the players had a great game today.”
On her feelings about playing this season in Portland…
“Coming here with these fans was one of the reasons. When Paul called me, he sent me a video that the club made for the fans last year. When I saw it, I thought ‘This is the biggest reason.’ You don’t have this anywhere else. These fans and this city should be proud of what we have. This is so special playing here, every game. Even if we didn’t have any chance today, I think the team would come here with that mentality. You can’t play bad or not run. They push you so much. We’re just sorry that we didn’t play at the same level this whole season. If we had, we would be in the playoffs already, in the middle of the season. I just can’t say thanks enough to all of them. Let’s hope that they still believe in us because we believe. We’re going to try for us and for them.”
- Thorns FC and FC Kansas City are the only two teams from the 2013 season to return to the playoffs in 2014 and will face off in the semifinals for a second straight year.
- Portland has outscored FC Kansas City, 10-2, in the three previous meetings this season with a record of 2-1-0 during the regular season.
- Thorns FC are 9-0-4 this season when scoring first in a match.
- Portland improved to 5-2-0 all-time against Seattle with three shutouts and a 3-1-0 mark at home, dating back to the 2013 season.
- Thorns FC finishes the regular season on a five match unbeaten streak at home, including back-to-back shutouts. Portland closes out the regular season with a record of 7-4-1 at Providence Park.
- Defender Nikki Marshall made her 46th consecutive regular-season start for Portland on Sunday.
- Along with Marshall, forward Jessica McDonald is the only other Thorns FC player to appear in all 24 regular-season matches this season.
- Midfielder Tobin Heath returned to the lineup for the first time since July 17 at Chicago, making her fifth start this season.
- Sunday’s clean sheet was the fifth of the season for Thorns FC and the third at Providence Park in 2014.
- Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer tallied four or more saves in a match for the 12th time this season on Sunday.
- Portland is one of only two teams to beat Seattle this season. Chicago earned a 1-0 win against Reign FC on July 12 at Benedictine Sports Complex.
Portland Thorns FC (10-8-6, 36pts) vs. Seattle Reign FC (16-2-6, 54pts)
Aug. 17, 2014 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Seattle Reign FC 0 0 0
Portland Thorns FC 0 1 1
POR: Morgan (Long), 68
SEA: Deines (Caution), 50
SEA: Rapinoe (Caution), 89
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Nadine Angerer, D Becca Moros, D Nikki Marshall (Sarah Huffman, 27), D Emily Menges D Rachel Van Hollebeke, M Allie Long, M Amber Brooks, M Vero Boquete, M Tobin Heath (Jessica McDonald, 66), F Christine Sinclair © (Angie Kerr, 90), F Alex Morgan
Substitutes Not Used: GK Michelle Betos, F Jackie Acevedo, F Hanna Terry
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Morgan, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Morgan, 3); FOULS: 11 (Boquete, Long, 3); OFFSIDES: 5; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 5
SEA: GK Hope Solo, D Stephanie Cox, D Elli Reed (Kiersten Dallstream, 84), D Kate Deines, D Lauren Barnes, M Keelin Winters ©, M Mariah Nogueira (Bev Goebel, 54), M Kim Little, F Naho Kawasumi, F Sydney Leroux (Dani Foxhoven, 76), F Megan Rapinoe
Substitutes Not Used: GK Haley Kopmeyer, D Kendall Fletcher, D Holly Hein, D Megan Brigman
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Rapinoe, 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Rapinoe, Little, 2); FOULS: 11 (Rapinoe, 4); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 4
Referee: Elvis Mahmutovic
Assistant Referees: Chipalo Street, Ronald Lagraff
4th Official: J.J. Blodgett
Weather: Sunny, 82 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial