Lindsay Horan, Thorns vs Orlando, 10.7.17
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 4, Orlando Pride 1 | Oct. 7, 2017

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons
On the team’s performance…

“I’m so happy to see a performance like that. I thought the first 20 [minutes] were electric. I think a challenge for us is to know that’s what makes us good. When we play with that energy, that quality and that aggression without the ball, challenge often and keep that foot on the pedal. We had another lesson today. That propels us into knowing that we have more to work on this week to get ready for a final this week. It was just a very disciplined performance. We had momentum. We grabbed goals. They had momentum. We were focused. We were patient. We were hard working. Sometimes we were a bit heroic in making some late challenges. What a group and team effort that was. If you could draw up a playoff win to start this playoffs, to have everybody involved and everybody impacting and influencing the game like we did today, it would be the way you’d draw it up. Very proud of the group.”

On dealing with Orlando’s attack…
“They’re a very, very strong team. And the way that they played last week, I believe that they were the highest scoring team in the league. Marta and Alex Morgan, [we were] trying to keep those two players quiet. That’s two games that we’ve managed to do that now, and not give them the types of opportunities that we would like to have and force them to do other things. They’re great players and they came close a couple of times, but what the whole team did to keep those two players quiet was great. They’re a very good team. A lot of respect for their coaching staff. They’re great people and the group that they’ve built – it’s their second year in this league – and other teams have showed that it’s a very hard job to climb up this ladder in the most competitive league in the world. They’ve not just got into the playoffs, they’ve been a really exciting, attacking team, and that’s credit towards their staff and the group of players for what they’ve done. And then it shows what we were able to do today. That score line was convincing, and the way that we started and finished the game was convincing. I think the thing that is second to winning is that we know we can play better. We know that we can control more of the game and show that area. Because we didn’t get to show it as much today as we’d like to. And that doesn’t surprise me. It was a tough loss last year, and no matter how much we don’t talk about that and stay focused on this game, at some point it’s going to sneak in. And nerves sneak in. How we managed those periods and those nerves was exceptional. I’m really proud of the collective team effort, and it’s really exciting that we have more in the tank. And we don’t have to create or manufacture that. Our players will know that. And they’ll know that we need to have an even better training week than we did last week to prepare for one more.”

On the performance from forward Hayley Raso…
“The story just keeps going, but we’re only two, three pages into a 100-page story with Hayley Raso. It comes back to what this whole group has collectively done, and it’s contagious. They have a winning mentality. They have a mentality to take everything that they do seriously and to the best of their ability to the point of how we train, how we recover. I’m sure they’re going to enjoy themselves tonight. I’m sure they’re going to do that to the best of their ability. We’ll probably be waking them up tomorrow morning and refocusing. Raso has been a key member of that club, of having a strong mindset and mentality, learning from Sincy [Christine Sinclair], learning from AD [Adrianna Franch] – the growth that she’s made this year – and learning from our experienced players like [Meghan] Klingenberg and Mandine [Amandine Henry], what these players do day in, day out. And what about Katherine Reynolds? Who beat her tonight? And when they did beat her, she got back and got another piece of pressure on. Katherine Reynolds was obviously one of the first players we managed to bring here when I came over, and you can’t buy those people. To do amazing, consistent, hard, tenacious work every single day, and that’s her. This group has built a contagious work rate and mentality, and Raso is in that club. And we’re only a couple of pages into a great story that she’s got.”

 

 

On the team’s depth…

“It’s not improved my hairline, having a lot of players to choose from and having some hard decisions and conversations, but this is a collective group that keep giving to the team, keep putting the team first. You look at the players that came on today, the way that they came on, the way that they impacted the game, [Nadia] Nadim talked about it in her pregame that we’re going to need everyone. We’re going to need those players in the suite today that aren’t rostered. We’re going to need to feel and hear everyone, and when it’s your turn you have to go. It’s one thing to have depth, it’s another thing to have all-in depth. And depth that is bought in that is going to give to this club whether they’re on the field or not, whether I’m on the field or not, whether I get to roll out the game plan or it’s another member of staff, we’re fighting for something bigger than us. It’s the Portland Thorns. This is an amazing organization with a lot of people behind the scenes pushing us to be the best that we can, and they deserve to see us give everything to the team.”

On how it feels to win after losing in a home semifinal match in last year’s playoffs…

“Yeah, 12 months and one week. It feels good that we could come out and perform this way. I think today, and it hit me after, today getting that result, that was to this stadium and the people that were there last year and had to see the emotion from the players and to see how distraught we were. This one was to give back. I’m sure there were a lot of nervous people in the stands today. We gave this to them. And now we go on and we look to win this thing with everything we’ve got for us, for the fans, for the club, for the front office, for everyone. It’s good to put that behind us now, but it’s going to take more than today, it’s going to take more than the last eight months to get a result against a really good Carolina or Chicago team.”

On the decision to start Tobin Heath…

“If she had to go 90 today, she would have gone 90. That goal, the timing of that goal, really helped us out because 70, 75 would have been really safe. We’ve been on the safe side the whole time. If she needed to do more, she would have done more. We wondered when she was going to be able to do 90 minutes, and maybe next week’s a great time for her to pull that out of the bag. She’s handled this incredibly well and keeps doing the little things to get fitter and sharper. And what a performance. What an amazing feeling having her back. When we have our backs up against the wall, being able to get the ball into her and slow the game down and bring others into play is huge. It’s not just the attacking stuff and creating like the assist that she had and the other opportunity that she created, it’s also when we have a bit of pressure on us. She was big time. So it’s exciting for her. She got out. She feels great. She’s ready for more, and we’re excited for her to train more next week.”

On how the team matches up in potential matchups against North Carolina or Chicago…

“We know we have more in the tank to be better ourselves. Let’s look at that. Let’s identify the things that we know we can be better at and start ticking those off, and then once that game has happened tomorrow, look at both oppositions we’ve had. We’ve had really tough, tough, brutal games that haven’t been enjoyable against both, and we’ve had games that have felt really good against both. I think that experience is important, and as soon as that whistle goes and we know, then we drive on to the specific detail that we need.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair
On winning the NWSL semifinal after last year’s loss in the semis…

“It was our motivation all year. Last year we left our fans disappointed. We were disappointed. All year it was our focus to, not only host a playoff game, but then win it. It was a statement from us. Orlando, they haven’t lost in a long time and we just killed it. Amazing team performance.”

On second half adjustments to diminish Orlando’s threat…

“We came out very fast. Two goals up and we knew it wasn’t going to be that type of game. They’ve got some world-class players and they got a goal back, but we knew heading into halftime that we had more goals in us. We just had to shut down a few of their players and keep the momentum on them. Last time we played them in Orlando, they died off about the 75th minute. We knew that if we kept going that would happen again and we got two more goals in the second half.”

On the whole squad being involved in the team’s win…

“It’s huge. One thing we have on this team is a lot of depth. We’ve got some world class players coming onto the field. Obviously Tobin [Heath] missed pretty much the whole year. To have her now back, healthy, it’s like a whole new player you’re adding to your team. To bring on someone like Nadia [Nadim] off the bench and she comes on and makes a huge impact with like her first touch. Not many teams in this league have that kind of depth.”

On shutting down Orlando’s most dangerous players like Marta and Alex Morgan…

“Especially with someone like Marta, it’s a team effort. She goes everywhere on the field to try and get involved. We knew that wherever she was, if she was in your zone, she’s yours and not to make it easy. We just completely shut her down and same with Alex [Morgan]. She was on the ground a lot in the game and that was our goal: to make it an uncomfortable environment for them to play in and I think we did that.”

On if she expected to win the game by such a margin…

“No. You don’t head into a semifinal expecting to win 4-1. But we knew what we were capable of and if we stuck to the game plan, we’d get the chances in front of their goal and it was just a matter of shutting them down. Our backline was tremendous. [Adrianna Franch] was tremendous. We put the ball in the back of the net where over the course of the season, sometimes they weren’t going into the net for us and it was a massive win for us.”

Portland Thorns FC defender Katherine Reynolds

On Portland’s defensive organization…

“Orlando has some really talented forwards and it was a tough game defensively, but I think as a back line and as a team we did a great job and prevented them from getting any major chances, other than the goal.”

On containing Marta…

“Obviously in the back of my mind, I know what an amazing player she is, so I wanted to make sure I gave her space so she couldn’t beat me easily with just a touch, but also stayed close enough to prevent her from doing anything too dangerous. It’s tough.”

On getting into that defensive mindset in the game…

“It definitely takes some time. You don’t know what players are going to be where and what their movement is going to be, but once the game went on, I knew I was going to be dealing with [Marta] and Alex [Morgan] all game. I knew it was going to be a challenge, but it turned out well.”

On dealing with Orlando scoring to make it 2-1…

“They definitely came at us for a while in the first half and you just have to weather the storm. We could feel the pressure, but we made it through. You just have to be strong in those moments because a soccer game is going to go up and down. Those are the big moments you have to get through to win a game.”

On keeping Orlando to just a single shot on target all game…

“It’s always our goal to get a shutout and prevent as many shots as we can. I think that’s something our backline is really good at and we work together and communicate. We love to defend and we love to block shots. That’s led us to have a successful year and a successful game today and hopefully a successful championship.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Amandine Henry

On scoring in the NWSL semifinal and her final match at Providence Park…

“It was amazing. I have a lot of emotions. I’m sad and I’m happy at the same time because it’s my last [game here], but we are qualified and it’s the most important.”

On the Portland Thorns fans…

“The fans are the best in the world. I can’t find other fans like this.”

On how getting the NWSL final compares to other finals she’s been in…

“I don’t know. I think it’s different. I think we aren’t pressured because we are together during the whole season. It’s just a final. It’s just a game and we have to enjoy it. I think if we are together, we can win.”

On her goal and the cross from Meghan Klingenberg…

“She had a good assist. I know her crosses and her crosses are perfect. I was lucky. We practice during the week and we know each other.”

On what she’ll miss most about Portland…

“The fans. My teammates. Everything for sure.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Nadia Nadim

General thoughts on the win…

“It’s an amazing feeling. We were here last season, but didn’t really make it. This time, we’re in the finals and it’s fantastic. I’m so glad to be in this position and we’re really, really excited.”

On playing her final match at Providence Park…

“I wasn’t really thinking about it until the end. It was like mixed emotions. I’ve loved playing here and knowing this is my last time playing in front of these amazing fans is kind of heartbreaking. There’s still one game left.”

On setting up Christine Sinclair for the fourth goal…

“I know [Sinclair] is ice cold in the box. I saw she was running at the back post, so I just got her the ball. Then she did what she does best.”

Notes:

  • Portland advanced to its second NWSL Championship in five seasons, becoming the fourth team in league history to have advanced to multiple championship matches.
  • Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last seven matches (6-0-1), outscoring their opponents 16-3.
  • Playing its final game at Providence Park in 2017, Portland has won eight consecutive home matches to conclude the season, outscoring opponents 21-4.
  • Thorns FC tied the record for most goals scored in an NWSL playoff match, equaling the four goals scored by the Western New York Flash in 2016.
  • Portland has scored two or more goals in four of its five playoff matches, including seven total goals in its last two playoff matches.
  • Sinclair scored her third career NWSL playoff goal, which ranks tied for second in all-time playoff goals.
  • Emily Sonnett scored her second career playoff goal in the match. Sonnett is one of three Thorns FC players (Heath and Sinclair) to have scored multiple playoff goals.
  • Sonnett and Sinclair are the third and fourth players to score in consecutive years in the NWSL playoffs along with Seattle Reign FC’s Megan Rapinoe and FC Kansas City’s Amy Rodriguez.
  • Amandine Henry and Hayley Raso scored their first career NWSL playoff goals, becoming the seventh and eighth different players to score a goal for Portland in the playoffs.
  • Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan and Nadia Nadim all recorded their first career NWSL playoff assists.
  • Allie Long, Sinclair and Heath made their fifth playoff appearance for the club – the only three players to have appeared in all five of Portland’s playoff matches.
  • Ashleigh Sykes and Adrianna Franch started their first career playoff game for Thorns FC. It marked Franch’s third postseason appearance in her career as she started both playoff matches as a member of the Western New York Flash during her rookie season in 2013.
  • Heath earned her first start of the 2017 season, making her third consecutive appearance in Saturday’s match.
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