Goal Celebration, Portland Thorns FC vs North Carolina Courage, 07.15.17
Craig Mitchelldeyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 1, North Carolina Courage 0 | July 15, 2017

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons

On today’s performance from the team…
“The energy and intensity and the performance from every single player in the group – that’s a statement, and it’s a statement to ourselves. We know when we work and go after teams and look to be dominant with or without the ball that we can be very, very good. I thought we were very good today. There were a lot of individual performances. AD [Adrianna Franch] coming up with the saves and the pressure from the frontline put them under in the second half [and it] kept giving us those corner kicks and opportunities. We were in this situation last year, missing players, missing five players that were key in that semifinal last year and we were here in this situation last year missing players, there is no better feeling as a coach when a group steps up and players that may not have as many minutes as others, put in big time performances. I’m really proud of the work the group did, it was a collective, hardworking, pressing every single second of the game performance and when you do that, and you’re on the front foot, good things happen. I’m proud that [Hayley] Raso got that, she’s put in some good miles over the last few weeks and it’s nice to see her earn one like that.”

On Hayley Raso’s performance…
“Other teams have started to shut her down, or try to and we’ve had to recreate her role and we had to adapt today, big time. We thought the last two weeks were a little bit predictable. We have different forwards and wingers than we thought we would have at this stage in the season and Raso has surprised everyone. While my belief in her as an individual is so strong, it has been for the last few years, and I tell her that every week. She’s probably a little ahead of schedule right now. We needed to mix it up, we needed to get her in the game today because we haven’t seen her for a couple of weeks, we haven’t seen her for a couple of games. I thought the whole team did a really good job adapting. It took me a little while to be willing to adapt, but we did today and the players bought in and went after it. A lot of brand new information and Raso in her new role. Every single one, including Kelli [Hubly] and Mal [Mallory Weber] coming in at the end in positions we hadn’t [tried] before… I’m proud of the group, proud of the work. The message from this moment on is every time we put in the work and the energy and get on the front foot, good things happen and tonight is more evidence of that.”

On the second half…
“The first half was really tight, it reminded me of the Seattle away game, where we felt really good in the Seattle away game. We felt like we had control, we hadn’t quite created the opportunity and we had limited them to the one chance right at the end, where they got an overload out wide. I thought the first half was tight, but we had control of it. We put ourselves in a good position and in the second half we wanted to step it up. We wanted to step up in two ways – once we got in the final third, more quality. We wanted to slow the game down from there. Pick our passes, pick our opportunities and strike. We thought we could get a couple more crosses in, and we did that in the second half and we kept the front foot on. We got a lot of opportunities, mostly coming from set pieces and corners.”

On the formation and shape of the team…
“The theory was about trying to put us on the front foot and we knew the fans were going to come in and bring loads of energy and intensity like they do every single time we have the privilege of playing in this stadium. We wanted to match that. We wanted to match their intensity and be out on the front foot. We needed a shape. I think there were four or five different shapes in different phases with or without the ball, but we needed to adjust to get on the front foot, man mark them when they’re trying to play, but also be really protected when they’re trying to go long. They’re a team that have been able to play forward really fast and really well. They’ve also hit behind and gone long. They haven’t attempted as many passes – I think their lowest in passes attempted and passes completions, but what they do with the passes is dangerous. We wanted to make sure we had someone putting pressure on the ball every single second that they had the ball. A couple of times they almost broke us, but it was a great committed, determined performance.”

Portland Thorns FC defender Meghan Klingenberg
On the importance of getting a win against the team at the top of the NWSL table…

“It’s important for a few reasons. One, we knew they’re a great team and they’re at the top of the table right now. So we wanted to take points where we can. Also, going back to last year [NWSL semifinal], there’s always a bad feeling about losing on your home field in the playoffs. So that was a big motivator for us. It was important for us to make sure we keep getting points to stay in the [playoff] race and it was a really big win for us today and I’m proud of the effort the team put in.”

On if the next two games also offer good opportunities to get points…
“I think we’re going to look at every game after this as an important opportunity to pick up points. I think we’re too good of a team to drop as many points as we have. We put together a really good performance in this game and I think the second half against Houston. I’m looking forward to seeing how well this team does. We’re going to keep staying positive and keep trying to get as many points as we can.”

On any difference in performance between today and previous games where the Thorns dropped points…
“I think we have the belief again. We’re all pulling in the same direction. Sometimes when things start going bad, everyone tries really, really hard, but maybe everybody is pulling in different directions and not necessarily going the same way. Now I think we’re all pulling in the same direction and I think that’s a little scary for other teams.”

On the team message at halftime…
“I actually think we put in a pretty good first half. We limited their opportunities, we kept the ball, we did exactly what we wanted to do. But at halftime, we knew we needed just a little bit more. We needed more shots on goal, we needed more balls in the box to cause more mayhem and we did that. Besides the last 10-15 minutes when they were just crushing balls into our half, into our box, it was a pretty successful performance for the Thorns.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Hayley Raso
On how she saw the play develop that led to her goal…
“When [Meghan Klingenberg] gets the ball out wide, she’s always looking to cross it into the box and she always puts the ball in a perfect spot. So she did that today. It was exciting. It was great to get my head on it and watching it go into the back of the net was awesome.”

On getting three points against the league leaders…
“It was really big for us. We’ve come off a few tough loses, both on the road and here at home. So for us to come out against the top team and get points, it puts us on the front foot and it’s great.”

On if the next two games at home are important to pick up points…
“It’s very important. I feel like the Riveters and the whole crowd always get behind us and that really drives us. So to have three games in a row, hopefully we can come out and get three points each week and that’ll push us up the table.”

On how the team adjusted to a new formation…
“We had a new formation and it was to press North Carolina. Just really high press and get everyone up there and get North Carolina on the back foot. I think we did that. They didn’t have time, they didn’t have space to play out.”

Notes:

  • Saturday’s match marked the 100th match in club history for Thorns FC.
  • Portland registered its seventh clean sheet of the season, which is tied for the most in the NWSL in 2017.
  • Portland improved to 5-1-1 on the season at Providence Park with five clean sheets.
  • Thorns FC have outscored their opponents 12-5 at home this season.
  • Defender Meghan Klingenberg registered her team-leading third assist of the season.
  • Thorns FC are 3-0-0 when their game is the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime.
  • Portland recorded its 14th headed goal since the beginning of the season, which is the most in the NWSL.
  • Rookie forward Tyler Lussi made her first career start in the match. Lussi is the fourth player drafted by Portland to earn a start in her first season with the club.
  • Midfielder Allie Long finished the match with a 92.5 percent passing accuracy. Long has recorded more matches (6) with a passing accuracy of better than 90 percent than any player in the league in 2017.
  • Defender Kelli Hubly made her professional debut in the match, entering the match as a second-half substitute.
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