Tobin Heath, Thorns FC vs Chicago, 093017
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 3, Chicago Red Stars 1 | Sept. 30, 2017

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons

On the team’s performance…
“I thought we started really well. We’ve had a mentality of training as well as we can and start games as well as we can and try and be our best and get the result, and three points is what was important today. The performance that led to that was promising and good. It was a strong performance, but at the same time things can change in this league and we learned that lesson today. It was a strong performance for the group, no injuries, everyone is healthy, the first time that we’ve had this this season. Meg Morris obviously wasn’t able to be back, but everyone else is ready to go and this is great preparation to go into next week.”

On the difference in lineup approaches from both coaches prior to kickoff…
“That’s what we’ve done all year. The group is fit, the group is healthy, the group is fresh, and we didn’t want to go into the biggest game of the season next week not knowing what is feels like for two weeks; not understanding what the pictures look like and what each other look like. I’m sure there are different approaches, I’m sure both approaches will work, it depends on what the players do this week with the staff, and how the four clubs work, train and prepare. We’ve worked very hard to build a great tactical understanding, a non-verbal understanding of each other [the players] and we wanted to build on it today. The mentality, we’ve mentioned it a few times, I think it’s dangerous when you start turning on or off a winning mentality and doing the things that takes to be the best to win. Everyone has different approaches, I thought that we took the approach that suits us and our personality and it led to a good performance, some lessons that we’ve got to grow from and be ready to be our best next week. [We wanted to] stay in a rhythm and keep getting better. The idea is that we’ve haven’t seen our best football, we want that to be now, in the semi-final and final. We’ve got to keep moving forward here and not take anything for granted.”

On the continued home dominance…
“That record is outstanding and is something that you’ve got to be very proud of. It’s not just players and staff, it’s everyone in this organization and the best supporters and fans in the world. It’s so key to be strong at home, so key to train well and be the best as possible. Go back a couple of years, three years, it was tough for the club to play at home because everyone gets excited about coming here. I remember being on the other side of it and coaching against it; it’s the game you circle and want to play in. And what we’ve done a really good job of, collectively with our fans is made that as hard as possible. We’ve imposed our personality, aggression to anyone who’s come in and that record is bloody outstanding. It’s a tremendous pat on the back to everyone in this organization. There’s hundreds of people working at this game making sure that this is a great experience for our players and our fans, and we’re all in it together; I’m proud that we can put a record up that says thank you to everyone.”

On facing Orlando or Chicago in their next match…
I think it puts all the clubs in a similar position. We know what Chicago and their players are about, and it’s the same the other way around; playing each other only makes each other more familiar. Whatever the pros or cons are, it’s the same for us all, which staff, which players can create [an advantage] and prepare the team an extra percent better, we’ll be focused on doing that. Everyone is in the same boat and probably a little more comfortable with their opposition heading into the semifinals.”

On Tobin Heath’s return and appearance in the game…
“Yeah, she has been doing great. What a beautiful site to see her on the field and in the stadium, I know she loves playing here. It’s great to have her out there; she’s building fitness, sharpness, she’s enjoying herself. This is the Tobin that we all know, who is one of the very bests in the world and it’s great to have her back on and off the field and next week hope to start her and keep her out there for a bit longer.”

On conceding the goal late in the match…
"Two things: it’s very frustrating. The group, the team and the players take unbelievable pride in not giving anyone opportunities to score goals, and that’s what we focus on. They are going to be disappointed that they gave up those shooting opportunities, one off the bar and the distance shot, it was a great goal, and they’ll be disappointed with the outcome which is not a clean sheet, which I thought they deserved. They kept 3-4 shots until they got that goal, which brewed to 7 but it’s a hungry group that does not like giving any opposition any opportunity to get near our goal; it shows a strong mentality. The one positive from it is that it keeps us alert. We learned that lesson today, it’s a horrible taste in the mouth but it will keep us focused this week in preparing for Orlando or Chicago.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath
On being back on the pitch…
“Awesome, it felt so good being able to play in a game like this, which doesn’t matter that much. Just being able to feel the fans again and be at home and play with the girls, it was an awesome feeling.”

On building team chemistry upon return to action…
“It’s difficult, they’ve played the entire season and I was not a part of that. I’ve been here for a while so it’s not that different, and I know what the team’s philosophy and culture is so in that way it’s easy to slip back in. But in terms of on the field, you build it throughout the season; everybody else is up to speed on that. I’m fortunate because we basically have the same team as last year, so there aren’t that many relationships that I haven’t already developed. I’m excited to be back with everyone.”

On Heath coming in during the biggest time of the year…
“These are the games that you live for. I didn’t think I’d be back in time for something like this. I’m proud of the girls because they’ve worked so hard to get that home playoff in front of our fans. These games are the best; I don’t think that I’ve ever had a time where I’ve jumped back in at the end of the season with important games like this in my career, it’s a first time for me. In terms of important games, I’m fortunate that I’ve played in a lot of awesome games, this one is going to be no different. The four teams that are left are all very good; it’s going to be a fantastic semifinal.

On biggest challenge coming into the season this late…
“The biggest challenge I think at this point is, I guess not really much of a challenge, but staying together and having the mental fortitude to keep going. These are a whole other element of games that are must win, games that are going to go to overtime, you don’t experience this at any time during the regular season; you kind of really see what the team is about in these really important games.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Hayley Raso
On the team’s performance…
“I think we performed well today and it’s good for us to have a good performance and get a win leading into the playoffs next week.”

On momentum being on the Thorns’ side heading into the playoffs…
“The points didn’t matter, but I think we have got a bit of momentum behind us and that is good for us, leading into the [next] match. There is a good possibility that we’ll be playing Chicago, so I think it’s also good to come out and have a hit against them and look at their style of play, so now we have a bit more knowledge about them heading into next week.”

On feelings about playing Chicago in their next matchup…
“If it is them, we have more knowledge about them. At the end of the day, I don’t think it really matters who we do play, so we’re just going to be coming out for the fight either way.”

On Parsons’ message before the contest today…
“Having a group of girls who have been playing together is good for us, but he kind of really didn’t change things up; it was similar. I think that helps us leading into this playoff game by having a few more games under our belts together.”

On post-game action with fans…
“It’s awesome, it’s such an amazing feeling. The atmosphere here is like nowhere else. Having them behind them, having them push us, having them come out every game and cheer for us is really an indescribable feeling.”


Notes:

  • Thorns FC played in front of their first sellout crowd of the 2017 season (21,144) and the fourth sellout overall in team history.
  • Portland has at least one sellout in each of its last four seasons, including its last three home regular-season finales.
  • In 12 home matches this season, Portland set a new NWSL record for total (211,830) and average (17,653) attendance in the team’s fifth season.
  • Midfielder Allie Long made her 100th career appearance for the club becoming the seventh player in league history to reach this milestone. Additionally, Long is just the third player to accomplish this feat with the same team.
  • Forward Hayley Raso was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year and was presented her award by the Rose City Riveters postgame.
  • Raso scored her sixth goal of the season in the match. The goal was her sixth goal in the team’s last 13 matches.
  • Portland has scored 20 goals in the first half of matches in 2017, which is the second-most in the league.
  • Thorns FC have scored nine goals in the first 15 minutes this season, which is the most in the NWSL.
  • Forward Ashleigh Sykes scored her first career NWSL goal. Sykes is one of five Thorns FC players to score their first NWSL goal this season.
  • Sykes is the 10th player to tally a goal for Thorns FC this season.
  • Midfielder Tobin Heath made her second appearance of the season, and her 2017 home debut in the match.
  • Portland has won seven straight home matches, outscoring opponents 17-3 during that stretch.
  • Thorns FC improved to 7-1-6 all-time against Chicago, including a mark of 4-1-2 at Providence Park.
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