Nadia Nadim, Thorns FC vs. Seattle Reign FC preseason, 03.27.16
Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Thorns FC

Thorns FC topped by Seattle Reign FC, 2-0, in preseason opener

PORTLAND, Ore. – Playing their first match of the 2016 preseason, Portland Thorns FC fell 2-0 to Seattle Reign FC at Providence Park on Sunday evening. The match was the first of three in a seven-day span for Portland as part of the club’s preseason tournament that also features Seattle, the Houston Dash and Oregon State University.

A total of 14 different players made an appearance for Thorns FC in the match. Eight starters played 90 minutes, while midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir, midfielder Lindsey Horan, defender Meghan Klingenberg, forward Nadia Nadim, defenders Katherine Reynolds and Emily Sonnett all made their first appearance since joining Portland in the offseason. 

Seattle tallied goals in the 75th and 77th minutes of the match. Midfielder Havana Solaun opened the scoring in the 75th minute, settling a cross from midfielder Kim Little near the edge of the box and placing a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal. Midfielder Jessica Fishlock doubled Reign FC’s lead in the 77th minute, directing a corner kick by defender Lauren Barnes with a quick header into the top left corner.

Portland had several close chances throughout the match. Forward Christine Sinclair delivered a looping header on a pinpoint cross from Klingenberg that bounced off the crossbar in the 26th minute. In the 44th minute, midfielder Tobin Heath sent a long free kick into the box for Brynjarsdottir, but her header bounced just wide of the right post.

Thorns FC will play two more preseason games at Providence Park as part of their preseason tournament, squaring off against Oregon State on Wednesday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. (Pacific) before closing out the tournament against Houston on Saturday, April 2, at 5 p.m. (Pacific). Tickets are available for purchase for both matches (click here). Both matches will also feature a live web stream at www.thornsfc.com. 

Portland Thorns FC vs. Seattle Reign FC (Preseason Match) 
March 27, 2016 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)

Goals by Half                             1          2          F
Portland Thorns FC                     0          0          0
Seattle Reign FC                        0          2         2

Scoring Summary
SEA: Solaun (Little), 75
SEA: Fishlock (Barnes), 77

Misconduct Summary
SEA: Mathias (Caution), 59
POR: Horan (Caution), 59
POR: Nadim (Caution), 90

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Betos, D Klingenberg, D Sonnett, D Menges, D Williamson (Reynolds, 46), M Horan, M Long, M Brynjarsdottir (Boureille*, 79), M Heath, F Nadim, F Sinclair © (Pratt*, 63)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Franch, D Berryhill, M Zadrazil*

* - indicates non-roster invitee

TOTAL SHOTS: 8; SHOTS ON GOAL: 1; FOULS: 13; OFFSIDES: 5; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 4

SEA: GK Solo, D Barnes, D Corsie, D Reed (Cruz, 78), D Fletcher (Pickett, 46), M Little, M Fishlock, M Winters © (Dallstream, 63), F Yanez (Foxhoven, 79), F Melis (Solaun, 72), F Mathias (Elston, 63)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Hopmeyer, GK Tostanoski, D Nielsen, M Bennett 

TOTAL SHOTS: 14; SHOTS ON GOAL: 7; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 7 SAVES: 1

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons
On the match overall…
“It’s painful to lose to Seattle. We’re not going to hide that. That’s been with me for three years and it’s been with this club for three years. So, remove the result out of the way, it was really pleasing at this stage. While my expectations and standards are very high, I don’t believe I could have pictured it looking as good and as clean as it did in the first 20, 25 minutes. I think defensively and offensively, we had a bit more control in the early stages. I think they took control of it after that, and evened it up before halftime, and then in the second half I think we were chasing the game quite a bit. A lot of gaps and distances, especially defensively, started to open up. The second half, I would have loved to have been a bit tighter when we were pressing or when we were sitting in our block. So yeah, I think the first 15, 25 minutes looked good, if not better than l pictured it. Last night, as I pictured it, ‘hey if this went very, very well, how would it look?’ and it looked better than how I pictured it. And then once we got to the second half and the minutes kept going on I think we were definitely chasing it. To have a team [Seattle] that will punish you if you let them – at this stage of preseason, our first preseason game – the lessons we can now grab from this early is a huge benefit because my last two years preparing for the season this normally happens in game one or game two in the league. So it’s very cool and refreshing that it’s happening now. It gives us an opportunity to tidy those things up, especially with those two games coming up.”

On the disparity in the team’s shot totals…
“They’ve been together for three years, we’ve been together for three minutes. That’s there, but I don’t think the game looked like that today. I don’t think you would guess that I have 11 brand new individuals that hadn’t played together in our system. They had one brand new player in their system, [Manon] Melis , everyone else has been a core part of the club for many years. The game didn’t reflect that. Push that aside, we didn’t get our crosses, our final passes and our shots off in our final third as cleanly as we want, but I don’t think we’d expect that to happen [this early in the season]. I thought we created more today against a good defensive team than I could have imagined. So yeah, we’d like it to be a bit cleaner, but we’re weeks away from that, though. And then defensively, I mean especially as you saw the first goal went in, the gaps just started getting very big. But they started from the front. You know, our gaps between our lines, horizontally and vertically, started to get bigger. That means we started to do more running – that’s the last thing we want to do at this stage. As the game goes on you don’t want to be doing more running because we looked tired. Once those gaps start opening up, you just hope that you individually minimize their shots. Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t. So I think we got, at this stage, a good number of shots off. Now let’s improve, especially going from our building phase into our next phase in the central part of the pitch, we’ve got to improve that with sharpness and be cleaner, then our final opportunities, the number of them, grow. So it’s promising.”

On the integration of the new players, especially midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir...
“I think during the second half it became a lot more disorganized. Before that, huge credit to the players. We talked about it before they came in, people coming in and out throughout the year, people coming into the preseason at different times – their focus when they’re not here and what we’re doing, the focus and that transition when they first get in. The fact that we did look organized for periods of the game – I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t look organized, we did. Dagny and the relationship up there [with Christine Sinclair], especially in the defending end offensively, it shows the players’ focus and their attention to detail. We’ve kept a small group so our information goes further and they retain it more instead of filtering it down. I think we saw some results of that. Previous years, to see that first preseason game, it’s normally a big mess for large periods. I don’t think we looked messy today until late in the second half. That’s a credit to the players. Me and the staff, what we’ve been doing, I feel like it’s been good work, but it’s only effective if the players grab that responsibility. There were some really good relationships. I thought Lindsey [Horan] and Allie [Long] had fantastic relationship under Dagny in midfield. Kling [Megan Klingenberg] and Tobin [Heath], but I don’t think that’s a surprise there with how much they’ve played together. And then when we’re moving the ball out of the back four [Emily] Menges and [Emily] Sonnett looked good as well. There’s some great stuff going on, and I think we can continue to build our physical level, our fitness level, and make our game – our game is very simple at the moment. Our understanding on our offensive stuff, it’s very simple. We’ve kept it simple. More time we’re together we can become more complex. You saw that from Seattle. You saw their rotations and their movements were harder, more complex to deal with. Ours were very simple and if it worked, we broke and we got opportunities. If it didn’t, we’re not in a place where we have other solutions yet. That will come. We talked about that as a staff before the start of this game – focus on the two or three things we wanted and that’s it. So yeah, I feel good about the relationships.”

On the two or three things he wanted to focus on during the game…
“We wanted to make sure we physically competed because whether you’ve been together for a few minutes or a few years, that’s something we wake up and we decide: ‘Am I physically going to work hard? Am I going to put the effort in? Am I going to be focused on the tactical stuff?’ I think we physically competed superbly. I think that we were aggressive in a good way. A few 50-50s kept going to them when maybe they weren’t, but it just showed our mentality and our attitude to compete. We wanted to improve our defending from the front and when their goalkeeper has it, how we look in that stage. And when we start from our goalkeeper, what’s our solution to their pressure, and that was a great thing about playing this team, is they press, which means if you’re not good on the ball, you get punished and to have that this early – you can’t create that normally in preseason. It was a great opportunity today to play a good team. So, can we compete? How do we defend from the front? And how do we build up from the back?”

Thorns FC defender Meghan Klingenberg
On if she feels comfortable with the team...
“I mean obviously we can’t be comfortable yet. We’ve had about seven or eight days together but to me there was so many moments of brilliance, moments where I could see really good stuff happening. We put together a really good performance for about 60-65 minutes and then you could kind of see our fitness drop off a little bit. But honestly playing against, I think, the best team in the league last year, coming into preseason with a week of practice under our belt, I think that says a lot about our team and our mentality and how we want to be this year.”

On her going forward in the attack…
“I try and read the game as it’s happening so if I think I can get in behind, absolutely I’m going to get in behind. The great thing about playing with Tobin Heath is that she can play in the backline, she can play up top, she can play center midfield – she can play anywhere. I know as we’re moving and creating space for each other, it’s going to make it really hard for the other team. We just try and move off of each other so I read where Tobin’s going and she reads where I’m going. I think we have a pretty good relationship on the field, and off of course, but I’m excited to see where that can go and how much better it can get as we keep playing together more and more games.”  

On how the early team integration has been...
“What’s really cool about this Portland team is that I feel like, this year more than most, they’ve assembled a team of like-minded players that have like-minded styles. The way that Lindsey [Horan] thinks about the game is a lot like the way Allie [Long] thinks about the game so they gel well together. The way [Christine] Sinclair thinks about the game is the way that Tobin [Heath] thinks about the game, so it’s pretty cool when you put a lot of like-minded players with like-minded styles on the same pitch. You can kind of see how well and how much potential there is going to be for the season and I think it’s really exciting.”

On if it’s hard to get her first experience as a Thorn and then get pulled away for National Team duties...
“Absolutely. Who ever wants to leave Portland?  It’s a great city and I love being here. I feel incredibly welcome. The team has been welcoming and I feel after only being here for a short amount of time that I really enjoy being here and it feels more and more comfortable. I would love to get more games but those will come, we’re going to be here after these FIFA dates for a while with the team just working together and I think in that time we’re really going to see how much better we can get.”

On if the team foundation is already set for a good base heading into the 2016 season…
“Absolutely. I think, as I said earlier, the Thorns organization has assembled a really good team, with a really good coaching staff, with a really good plan of how they want these players to play. As we build on that and keep getting comfortable with each other and keep getting fitter, because we’re going to keep getting fitter as the year goes on, we’re going to put in some good performances and I think, honestly, the sky’s the limit.”

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