Parsons, Thorns vs. Flash, 9.11.16
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 3, Western New York Flash 2 | Sept. 11, 2016

Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons
On if it was an emotional win...
“Yeah and scary at the end there, that last 20-30 minutes. It’s a very, very tough team to keep off the scoresheet. We weathered the first-half storm, 15-20 minutes. We thought there was going to be one for the first 5-10 [minutes], well that third goal is something, that when we get that third, we’re very good at managing the game and it just took one moment to get them back and that cross and then great goal did that and then suddenly panic kind of settled in. I think for us to allow that to happen isn’t good enough, but for that to happen and still get the three points gives us something that helps us not get complacent and learn from. There’s key things that happen from both their goals. We’re going to be in a position like this again where we’re only one up and we can’t allow those things so we can learn from that, so I think it’s a good thing. Scary there at the end, but it’s a good thing. I think it helps us going forward.”

On being the first Portland Thorns coach to deliver a home playoff match...

“I think my emotion is more about seeing the players, the ones that have been here from day one and seeing the owner, the fans, the general manager and the operations staff that have been here wanting this. Honestly, it hasn’t hit me and I don’t think it will. We’re all here fighting for the team. We’re fighting for this amazing club and city, bringing them a game that they deserve and we deserve. At the end there we talked about making club history and the cool thing is that every single member of our roster can say they had an input in doing that. We’ve played a lot of players throughout this season. A lot of people have made an appearance for this club and not all of them are still here, but they’ve all played their part. So, it’s a special, special night for the club, but it’s not just down to all of our work this year. There’s other people that have done work in the previous years to set this up. This is a tremendous night and now it sets us up to go in two weeks time to go into New Jersey, hoping for a result on Saturday night, a tie or a loss, and then we can fight for the shield. We talked about it a couple of weeks ago that we’re not giving up hope on that but we have to take care of business. Three wins, 11 goals scored, only a few conceded in seven days is special and we’re going to take it a game at a time. We follow that now heading into these last few games.”

On if the atmosphere at Providence Park changes anything for him…
“You saw tonight that it always happens. It gives the other team a nice little boost at the beginning when they feel the atmosphere and feel the stadium. For us to be in Portland in our own beds and training here, building up to that game, and then those minutes before the anthem starts and having those fans here to support. It means everything. You can tell. You can tell with everyone involved in the organization it means a lot and those players on the field. There’s a few key moments tonight, and we’ve had this at key times a few nights, that the crowd took off and there tremendous all night but they really took off and it helped us. I thought that third goal come from 5-10 minutes before the crowd got going and it lifted us. Again, because we started to slow down and it lifted us, got us moving and we got an important third goal that shows right now that that’s the difference.”

On scoring the first goal with help from a penalty kick call...
“I think we had to get the ball behind them and we had to stretch them. Their formation is set up that if you stretch them, you’re going to break them. We talked about it at the beginning, on the counter attacks, the way that they attack when you win it, you can fit a cruise ship through their back line. We weren’t taking advantage of it and then we did. We did it twice. We did it with the two goals and the importance of those goals at that time were big. It’s something we have done well. We have weathered storms you’re going to face. This is a team that, they’re averaging 20 shots a game most weeks. You’re going to feel a storm. You’re going to feel the heat. Just like other teams do against us. We seem to score when we’re on top and we manage to keep other clubs out when they’re on top. We have to keep that theme going right to this final league game and into the playoffs.”

On the diversity of scorers on the team...
“It was a shame that we got four yellow [cards] on Nadia [Nadim] and Lindsey [Horan]. We wanted them in the Sky Blue so we had to get Nadia off. I thought she was having one of her best games tonight. A build up play, the ball was going in and coming back out sharp and she was getting on shoulders, we could have found her a few more times. She was feeling it and when that’s going on you want her on the pitch. It’s good the goals are being shared around. It’s nice to have. We got a lot of quality players that can score goals. The way we set up the team, it’s always in a position that multiple people are going to get in the box the difference is I think we have multiple people who can finish and score goals. When the ball lands to them, they’re not wasting them. They’re taking them. So, it’s good. It’s a good sign that more people are getting in there and getting opportunities.”

On defender Emily Sonnett’s performance…
“I think every game like this she’s improving for our level and the next level. There were times she got caught there in the first half when the ball bounced back and one of the forwards got it on the goal line and kept the play alive. That can shake a lot of people and the next time they get it they just smash it. Sonnett continues to play with composure and the want to play. She’s 22 years old and I think that what we forget in her performances, and I was talking to someone about it last week, that she’s a rookie. That might be a reason why people forget about her when it’s time to [name] Rookie of the Year. We think she’s 26 [years old], 28 [years old] because she often plays like that. Tonight she had a couple of moments where she can learn from. I think we all did. We all had moments tonight where New York caught us on our back foot. They’re a very dangerous team, very dangerous team that plays with passion and plays with speed. I think this was a really good game. So important to get three points here but such a good game to learn from. When we get into that final league game, Sky Blue’s last home game, they’re going to be all over us and a playoff, semifinal game is going to be the same. Good lessons tonight.”

 

Portland Thorns forward Nadia Nadim
On how the amount of scoring in the past few games helps the team going into the playoffs...
“Obviously, it means a lot because you’re scoring goals and winning games. It’s given me a lot of confidence. I feel that we’re in front of the goal, getting more chances, and we’re playing better together because we’ve played a lot of games together now. All that bringing to the playoffs is going to make us really dangerous and I hope that we continue the way we’ve been playing the last two, three games.”

On the team’s feeling on hosting a playoff match...
“I mean it would mean the world for all of us, every and each player. Obviously, it’s going to be special because you see the atmosphere, the way it was tonight. It was amazing and I can’t imagine how it’s going to be when we’re going to be playing a playoff game. So, no matter if it’s Allie Long, Tobin Heath or any other player I think we want this the same way. We want it for us. We want it for the city.”

On if it’s different playing in front of huge crowds…
“The energy you get out of it is crazy. You feel it. It’s different if you play in front of 15,000 or 21,000 but the energy is just incredible. When you feel people yelling your name, you just want to do more. I know it sounds crazy but I feel the energy that we get from the fans is incredible. I hope we keep getting that through the next couple of games.”

On whether or not the international break is a good thing for the team...
“I don’t think I’m going to have a break because I’m going with the national team so I’m going to play no matter what but I don’t know. That’s a tough question. I feel we’re finding each other on the field and I don’t think there’s going to be any issues when we come back together. We’ve been together for almost seven months now and we’re starting to find each other on the field, which is awesome. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.”

On if she felt pressure shooting the penalty kick and if scoring helped settle the team...
“Of course. Western New York is a really great team. With the way they came out, we knew they were a really good [group] of athletic players and they play fast. We were under a lot of pressure, but once we got the goal I think we got more confidence with the ball and tried to get the second goal. So the goal definitely helped us. Always does.”

Portland Thorns midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir
On the overall match...
“I thought in the beginning we looked maybe a little tired. This was the third game in one week. Then in the end of the first half we kind of took control of the game and scored two goals. I thought the second half was kind of up and down. We controlled the game and then the other team [controlled the game], but I thought they put a lot of pressure on us. In the end they needed the goals and I thought we did well in managing the game in the end and making sure we’d still win.”

On whether or not the international break is good for the team...
“I think yes and no. It’s like we just got together. We’ve been together now for three weeks or something so we’re starting to get our team shape back and playing together and now we’re going into the international team break. I think it’s also going to be good getting a break, a different environment and then hopefully when we go to Sky Blue we’re just going to be fresh and ready to go.”

On the diversity of scorers on the team...
“I think that’s great. Sometimes it can be hard when it’s only one or two players who can score because then they have all the responsibility and everyone is just counting on them. I think on this team we have a lot of big characters on the team. [There] are a lot of players who can score big goals and I think the teams [that are] going to win has the most characters who can score the most goals. I think it’s great that we have so many people and different kind of players that can all score goals. I think it just makes us dangerous all over the field.”

On her fitness…
“I think I’m a player who gets in shape pretty quickly. Obviously, I’ve been struggling in August coming out of injury and I thought today it was nice to get more minutes. I was only able to get 10 minutes in the last game, so it was nice to get more minutes in now. I’m getting there. Obviously coming back I’m a little tight here and there, but I’m getting there.”

On what the atmosphere tonight means moving into the playoffs...
“I just think it’s amazing. I’ve never played in front of such a big crowd, never ever in my life. I think it’s amazing and we definitely have the best fans in the world. They for sure help us through everything. It’s just having an extra player on the field. Like in the end when times get tough they somehow push you through those last minutes. You get tired, but they push you through it. We want to do it for ourselves, but we also want to do it for our fans and for the city.”

Notes

  • Thorns FC played in front of their first sellout crowd of the 2016 season (21,144) and third sellout overall in team history. Additionally, it marked the sixth time Portland has drawn a crowd of more than 18,000 for a game.
  • With the sellout, Thorns FC set a new NWSL overall (169,449) and average (16,945) attendance record in the team’s 10th game at home this season. Portland previously held the previous overall attendance record (160,341) set in 2014 in 12 games played at home, while it also held the previous average attendance record (15,639) set during the 2015 season in 10 games played at Providence Park.  
  • Midfielder Tobin Heath recorded her NWSL-leading ninth assist of the season. Additionally, Heath’s assist was the 13th of her career, which moves her past midfielder Allie Long for the most in Thorns FC history.
  • Forward Christine Sinclair scored in her third consecutive match and recorded a point in her seventh straight match, extending her team record for most consecutive games with a point.
  • With her goal, forward Nadia Nadim became the sixth player to record 20 or more career points for Thorns FC.
  • With the win, goalkeeper Michelle Betos recorded her 12th career win, which is the most in Thorns FC history.
  • Defender Emily Menges played in her 59th career match for Portland and is the only player this season to play every minute of every match.
  • Portland improved to 6-2-3 in the all-time series against Western New York, including a mark of 3-1-1 at Providence Park.
  • Thorns FC have outscored their opponents 23-8 at Providence Park this season.
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