Tobin Heath celebration, Thorns vs Reign, 09.07.18
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 3, Seattle Reign FC 1 | Sept. 7, 2018

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons

On securing a home playoff game with the win…
“It’s a really special feeling. We know that tomorrow is a new day and next week is a new week. The game will be a very different game. We had to turn up and put in a strong performance. The performance was great, the result is great. We’ve got a few hours to enjoy this. This is a really good night. Really proud night. The group has taken another stride to get better and the way we played tonight, how dominant it was, there’s still areas we can improve and Seattle will feel exactly the same I’m sure. Overall, a fantastic night and what a great night to give to these committed and dedicated fans.”

On the team responding after going down a goal early…
“It’s a shame. We started really well. Before the goal, it was a really good start. Thought we had momentum. I think that was [Seattle’s] first possession. It shows when you don’t get pressure on the ball, they have quality all over. [Jessica] Fishlock did that last year. Same area, she picked it up and it’s an important lesson for us to learn because in this league, you slip up for a single second and teams can punish you. For us to get one back before halftime was key. We did that and it allowed us to be calm at halftime and just speak about the areas that we could continue to do well in. The goal to start the second half obviously lit this place up. The fact that we managed to try and keep scoring is important to keep them away from us. We managed to transition well, which was tough a little bit in the first half.”

On what he was most pleased to see from the team tonight…
“One of the areas we’ll need to improve on is quality at times could be better. We had some unforced areas and lost the ball in areas that are dangerous to lose it. That’s a FIFA date. That’s training yesterday. The group that were here training for the last 10-12 days were outstanding. A lot of them didn’t play tonight. We trained yesterday and actually competed in a 7v7, some of the players returning were just trying to get back in and get their feet under them. The players [that didn’t play tonight] were on fire and they continued their momentum and it lifted us. That’s what’s exciting about this performance. We love training, we love getting to work together and we didn’t have everyone. Those that have been away, it’s clearly been on their mind for a while because they all turned up big time. The returning players get straight back in. Ana [Crnogorcevic] ending up feeling a bit sick just before the game which was unfortunate. Everyone stepped up and it was an enjoyable night.”

On if he was concerned about the energy from the players coming back from international duty…
“No. Not concerned with the energy, especially looking at this stage of the season. What they did at Washington away, they had absolutely nothing in the tank and they put in a high quality, high energy 90-minutes plus. That gives you confidence. For the players that have been at the Tournament of Nations, add tonight’s game, that might be up there towards 10, 11, 12 games in five, six weeks. It’s out of this world. We’re fortunate enough that the U.S. National Team rotated a bit and you saw that our players benefited from that. That was great and helped us tonight.”

On Ellie Carpenter’s performance and attacking from different points on the field…
“It was great seeing Ellie Carpenter race forward. That’s when she’s at her absolute best. She can cause problems in the spaces that were there when she could drive forward and we thought she could take them on. Two things tonight, for Ellie. One message was to stay focused on defense and two, make sure they’re worrying and talking about you after this game. How are they going to stop you getting forward, how are they going to stop you getting crosses off. Thought she did that. We thought she had scored as well. So it’s a good performance and what a special night. Without a doubt there are a lot of positives, but next week is different and more on the line. We’ve been in this position now for four, five weeks of having to win. Recharging, refocusing and trying to improve. [Seattle] will have the instant motivation to want to improve without a doubt, and they’ll have a few more bodies back. We’ll have to, obviously, be better. We’ve got to make sure we create that motivation to improve on this performance.”

On Midge Purce’s performance…
“I thought she was very good. Same again. I think there’s more areas, the more she plays for us, the more we can support her. The cross she did for Lindsey [Horan’s] first goal. The cut back in for [Christine Sinclair] and the quality from Midge to do that. The final goal, Midge was breaking, rolled Caitlin [Foord] outside for the shot that got flicked over for a corner and we scored from the corner. Those decisions that she made, she wasn’t doing at the beginning of the season. She was getting five, six, seven opportunities and she wasn’t making the decision that showed her quality. She showed her quality tonight. It’s not a fluke. It’s not her waking up. She’s putting dedicated hours to be able to do that. It’s great to see in a big-time game like this, when she’s running at people, it’s frightening. Now she’s adding the end product, which is great to see.”

On what he expects at Providence Park for the NWSL semifinal next week…
“It was wild [tonight]. [Meghan Klingenberg] was talking about it, just how electric it was. What continues to happen at this club since I’ve been here is standards continue to get set and they get broken. Next week, I have no doubt that everyone, and we’ll squeeze a couple more people in here somehow, the atmosphere and the noise will be louder. We need that. We don’t do what we do tonight without that. That’s why it’s so important for us to bring this game back here. Our objective is to win a championship. From the first game of the season, you take it one game at a time, we know and we’re here in front of these fans we find another level. Proud to play in front of them tonight and proud that the group gave so much back to them.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath

On what it means for the team to clinch the second seed…
“We work all season for this opportunity and it came down to the last game and it’s a pretty amazing feeling to achieve what you set out to do and now this is kind of the second phase that we’re going into which is the part that we love.”

On how excited she is for this playoff run…
“We’re super excited, it’s obviously great to be at home in front of our fans, that’s massive for us. We have this whole week together to prepare for the game and we’ll see what happens, but where the team’s at now – we’re in a good place.”

On how good Lindsey Horan can be here and at the national team level…
“She’s incredible, she’s just massive for us. We’re lucky to have her here at the club and to watch her grow, this is just the beginning for her here and with the national team, and as long as we can continue to support her and have her be successful here that’s what we love to do.”

On next week’s game being a rematch, and Seattle having a chip on their shoulder…
“We’re not looking at it as a rematch actually, we think it’s going to be a very different game. Obviously they’ll probably get key players back that they didn’t have this game, and it’s always different in the playoffs than it is in the regular season games. For us this game was massive, for us to be able to play at home, and we dug in to get that result to be able to play at home. But now that is done and now we have a semifinal game in front of us and that’s a whole different situation. Even though it’s the same team it’s a completely different situation so we’re not really looking at it like we’re playing them again, we’re looking at it as a clean slate like we’re playing against a team in the semifinal.”

On what the club and the fans mean to her…
“The club means everything to me. This is my club and our club. I love playing at home. I love doing well for the fans, I love giving them something to cheer about. It’s an incredible feeling being able to play here day-in, day-out. We’re lucky.”

On if the team is peaking heading into the playoffs…
“I always say we’re a championship team, so we’re built for these types of moments. The season has been interesting with all its ebbs and flows and different periods we went through together. But the team is strong and we’re collected. With that, there’s anything we can deal with. When you get to the playoffs, it’s a whole different animal. I think we have the experience that we need in order to do well, but we’re going to go out there and do our best.”

On the emotion in the match and the intensity of the rivalry…
“Yeah, absolutely. You don’t really need extra motivation in a game like this and playing in front of your fans. That’s all the motivation in the world, which is pretty lucky for us because it gives you energy that you don’t have to will yourself. The crowd is always important for us. It was important for us last year in the sem-final and it will be just as important for us in the game coming up.”

On her performances over the course of the season…
“I feel like it’s been nice for me to be out on the field for a while now and, like I said, I always try to get better and better and improve my game. I never feel like I’ve reached it. I’m also in a great place to find my best form here in Portland. I’m supported by amazing people, so I get the freedom to be able to grow and improve as a player because of the people around me.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Lindsey Horan
On how good of a feeling this is for her…
“It’s a great feeling, I think we did absolutely everything we could to secure a home playoff and I’m so proud of this team with how we came out even after a goal down in the first 5 minutes. That was pretty unfortunate, and after that happened we gained momentum, we got the first goal and we just kept going and going and just the way the team reacted was incredible and having the fans behind us helped us that much more, and it’s such a great feeling knowing that we’re going to come back here next weekend.”

On why this team always hits their stride at this point in the season…
“There are pressure moments and this team loves them and I think we thrive off of them. The experienced players that we have on this team, you know I look at Sinc [Christine Sinclair] and I look at certain players on this team that are going and working and are just nonstop and it just gives you that momentum and energy to do the same thing and work for your teammates; one player’s doing it and then the rest of the players start doing it and I think that’s the coolest thing about this team and the work never stops coming from the staff and the players and that’s huge.”

On Tobin playing her best at this point of the season…
“I personally think Tobin is the best player in the world and it’s no doubt she should be up there right now. I’m so thankful that we have her on this team, she is so huge for this team, and the things that she does and the things she produces are incredible to watch. Sometimes I zone out watching what she’s doing on the field and I have to get myself back into it. I’m so happy to have her and we’re lucky to have her.”

On how the early goal against Portland boosted team’s energy…
“Again I think that’s what this team does, that early goal just pissed us off and it was really unfortunate and that’s not what this team is about so I think we picked up momentum after that and kept going and never had a doubt that we were going to score and win this game, and that’s what Portland’s about.”

Notes:

  • With the win, Thorns FC have earned at least 12 wins in three consecutive seasons.
  • Portland finished the regular season with 40 goals, setting a record for the most goals scored in a single season in club history.
  • Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last five matches overall (4-0-1) and their last six matches (4-0-2) at Providence Park.
  • Portland played in front of its first sellout crowd of the 2018 season (21,144) and the fifth sellout overall in team history.
  • Sinclair started in her 52nd consecutive match. She is the only player to start and play in all 24 regular-season matches for Portland in 2018.
  • Lindsey Horan scored her second brace of the season and the third of her Thorns FC career in the match.
  • Horan is one of three players in club history with three or more braces in her career.
  • With two goals, Horan set a new Portland single-season record for points (28).
  • Horan finished with nine goals in 12 regular-season home matches in 2018, which includes three goals in two matches against Seattle at Providence Park.
  • Tobin Heath scored for a fourth straight match, equaling the mark for the most consecutive games with a goal by an individual in club history.
  • Portland evened the all-time series with Seattle a 8-8-3, including a mark of 5-3-2 at Providence Park.
  • Christine Sinclair was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year and was recognized after the match.