Quotes & Notes | Thorns FC 2, Orlando Pride 0 | Apr. 15, 2017

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons

Overall thoughts on the match…
“It was a little wild for both teams, and it’s really hard to predict what it’s going to look like. We had a basic plan, and it was trying to be a bit safer than normal. Both teams looked like it was their first game of the season, and when you haven’t had loads of experience with everyone together in a league game sometimes it takes a while. I think we grabbed a very important goal in the first half and then we weathered a little bit of a storm. Adrianna Franch was unbelievable in keeping the clean sheet, and so was the backline in doing such a good job. The last 25-30 minutes I felt like we could have scored a lot more. We got the second one, which was important. It was a wild, challenging game. It looked like a basketball game. Sometimes you cling onto your seat hoping things don’t break down and the next minute you’re trying to celebrate a goal. It’s great to get the three points, but I think the clean sheet is big time and it’s a platform for us to build off.”

On the difference in play from the team in the first and second half…
“I think the space that Orlando gave us with such a high line, we needed to get behind them. We didn’t find that quick enough. We did a few times, and we got some good opportunities from it. In the second half, the game got a bit more balanced. I felt we did better in finding the pockets and playing in between them. It was easier to, but that’s most games in this league. Teams are always going to press us because they know our central midfielders want the ball and want to control the game. If they press us like Orlando did, we’ve got to be able to take the space behind them and then the team has to adjust. It’s a good step and a great learning opportunity for us. In the first half, we managed emotions and managed the game. We hadn’t seen any film of Orlando. We got the lineup pretty close, but tactically we were coming in very cold. It’s not nice coming in blind, but you’ve just got to manage it. The players managed that incredibly well. It’s a really, really great group. They’re hungry and intelligent just to deal with some madness out there and adjust on the fly a little bit. You see what Allie Long did there. She won the ball off their player and broke up the field with [Christine] Sinclair. That was a piece of magic from Allie. It shows the world-class ability that she’s shown here the last few years. It’s great to have players like that in your group. 

On how the team performed without midfielders Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Tobin Heath and defender Katherine Reynolds…
Having Lindsey Horan, Celeste Boureille, Mallory Weber and Hayley Raso getting fit and having them available is an exciting process. We’ve had a positive mindset in managing the challenges of having a few people out for our preseason. Credit to the individuals in making this happen today, making the result possible and keeping the clean sheet. It’s thinking about having Dagny, Tobin and Katherine and our other players fitter. It’s exciting. They’re all doing good. I expect a lot more available for the North Carolina Courage when we travel and it’s exciting.”

On not having midfielder Allie Long getting forward…
“We love to rotate a lot. I made the decision in not wanting to rotate too much today. We missed two weeks with the international break, and we put the responsibility with Allie. She’s always our brain on the team, and there are messages that go through her. She manages a lot for us when we’re on the field. We wanted Allie being the single person playing just under the two attacking center midfielders and being the defensive midfielder on her own. Sometimes she dropped into the backline to get the ball, and sometimes she broke out. We stopped the rotation that normally happens. We wanted it to be a little bit more simple and not overcomplicate it. I thought she did really well, and you saw that you can’t have her just at the back. You can’t just keep her up front either. You’ve got to put her everywhere, and I hope we do more of that going forward. Today, she had some restrictions and she handled that superbly. That’s the cool thing for us that we get to be as fluid as we are with playing like her, Lindsey, Amandine [Henry] that can play anywhere in those three midfield spots.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Allie Long
General thoughts on the match…
“The beginning of the game we wanted to weather the storm and we knew it was going to be kind of intense and wild. The first 15-20 minutes were going both ways, but once we settled in, we stuck to our game plan and it was a really good first game to get under our belt. Great win, shutout and exactly what we wanted, so it was good.”

On the differences between the first and second halves…
“I think the first half we sat back a little more. At halftime we adjusted some things and just had more of the freedom that if we think we can win [the ball] we can go. Just to step up the pressure and make them uncomfortable, winning more balls in the midfield.”

On the play that led to Christine Sinclair’s goal…
“Someone played a square ball to a girl and I took advantage of a big touch. I saw an opportunity to win the ball and kept going. Sinc is a world-class forward and I think that she’s so under appreciated. People don’t realize the little tiny movements she makes for players, even off the ball. I was just running at the defender and took a touch to my left to create a little space, but I saw Sinc. She knew if I took a touch, I wanted her to go that way. That’s just playing over the years and her timing. She’s probably the best forward to play with.”

On the team’s hunger and motivation…
“We all remember what it felt like when we lost in the semifinals in that crazy game. Every year we set a goal to win the championship, so losing like that sets a precedent for how this feeling and we’re hungry. This is the first year there’s not been much turnover. It’s pretty much the same team as we had last year and it’s the first time we’ve ever had that. It’s a really cool feeling because everyone has bought in. Everyone felt the way we felt last year, so we’re all on the same page. We’re super hungry and passionate. We enjoy being on the field together, we enjoy Mark [Parsons], we enjoy this whole community and being in Portland. It doesn’t get any better.”

On lifting the 2016 NWSL Shield with the fans ahead of kickoff…
“That was so cool. One of my favorite shows is “Vikings” and so it’s like these girls with shields and I love that. It was so cool. Just Sinc raising that shield was so cool. It’s credit to all the work we put in last year and we took each game as it came, never looked too far. We were always near the top, but we came from behind in the last game. It was awesome and it feels good to get that. We’re trying to build and the championship at the end is the goal.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair
General thoughts on the match…
“It was kind of what we expected. Kind of hectic, lot of energy. At times you saw our quality come through. Obviously on the second goal, but some of the chances we created, you could see the quality we have. The game was a little chaotic. It’s one of those that’s just nice to get out of the way. The first games are always the most difficult, so it’s nice to get three points.”

On if the second half was more settled than the first…
“Obviously, [Orlando] started to press more and try to get a goal back. Things started to open up. That’s very common in this league where, second half, things start to open up and chances are a little easier to come by. It’s a massive win for us in front of, I don’t even know, how many fans today. Pretty cool to be a part of.”

On the play leading up to her goal…
“I’m not sure exactly how the ball found Allie [Long], but [Orlando] was pressing numbers forward and she had acres of space in front of their backline. I found myself running with her and it’s just one of those things, where Allie and I have now played together, this is our fifth year, and we can read off each other. I just pulled wide and made a run through. She put the perfect pass and their keeper was kind of caught in no man’s land.”

On the chemistry in the team right now…
“You look at our midfield and we have three of the best players in women’s football. It’s a nice thing to have as a forward and you just know if you make the runs, they’ll find you. Even on our penalty, Amandine [Henry] played a great ball through. We’re not starting from scratch like we were last year with Amandine and Lindsey [Horan]. We’ve had a preseason together, we’ve had a season together. We’re just able to read off each other better. We’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were at this time last year.”

On lifting the 2016 NWSL Shield with the Portland fans ahead of kickoff…
“I actually got asked that earlier and I said it was kind of bittersweet. Obviously it’s a huge honor and goes to show the body of work we did last year, but we came up short. I think for all of us, there’s some unfinished business and still have that bitter taste in our mouth. Obviously to see the tifo our fans created was incredible, but we’re not just going after the Shield this year.”

Notes:

  • Midfielder Allie Long made her 80th career appearance for the club in the match.
  • Long tallied her 13th career assist in the match and is just one assist behind Tobin Heath for first place on Thorns FC’s list for all-time career assists.
  • Adrianna Franch is unbeaten in her last 14 regular-season matches, dating back to her 2013 season with the Western New York Flash.
  • Long and midfielder Mana Shim are the only two players in club history to appear in every home opener since the team’s inaugural 2013 season.
  • Saturday’s match marked the third all-time meeting between Portland and Orlando. Additionally, Thorns FC and the Pride met in Portland’s home and season opener at Providence Park for a second straight season.
  • Nadia Nadim notched her 23rd career NWSL goal, and her 10th career goal for Portland. With the goal, Nadim becomes the fifth player in Thorns FC history to have scored 10 or more goals.
  • Sinclair has scored in four consecutive home regular-season matches for Portland, dating back to 2016. The goal was the 24th of Sinclair’s career.
  • Sinclair moved into a tie for sixth-place on the NWSL’s all-time scoring list, while Nadim is now tied for eighth (23 goals).
  • Portland improved to 8-0-4 all-time in the month of April, outscoring its opponents 22-9.
  • Thorns FC are 5-0-0 all-time in home openers and 4-0-1 in season-opening matches. Portland has outscored its opponents 13-4 in five home openers.
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