Lindsey Horan, Becky Sauerbrunn, Thorns vs Royals 09.20.20
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 3, Utah Royals FC 0 | Sept. 20, 2020

NWSL POST-GAME QUOTES
Portland Thorns FC vs. Utah Royals FC
Sept. 20, 2020 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Final: Portland Thorns FC 3, Utah Royals FC 0


Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons

General thoughts on the match…
“The message at the end of the game was just really proud of the group as people. As people, they’ve had to deal with a lot, like everyone has, and I think there was a big responsibility for us to make sure we showed Portland, we showed Oregon, that we’ve been thinking of them. Also, it was an important day to show the African-American community in the country what our group and how our group will continue to support. First of all, just proud of the way the individuals and collectively they’ve been able to just grow stronger and stronger together and think of things. Put life into perspective and know that we were playing at home for the first time this year for reasons bigger than soccer. The icing on the cake is a great performance and three goals and a clean sheet.”

On how the Thorns offense is shaping up since the NWSL Challenge Cup…
“It was a conversation in the last three or four weeks, maybe with you, if we, in the Challenge Cup when we played Chicago in that second game, we made the comment that if we had scored there, I think we would have gone on and scored more goals. Because we didn’t, it probably ended up becoming a bigger issue and cause more stress. If we had scored that day in the Challenge Cup, I think we would have carried on scoring, but it doesn’t mean the attack in the final third is perfect. It would have been freeing. It would have felt good. So today we scored three goals. I don’t think anything is perfect. I think we’ve moved forward a little bit just like we had in the Challenge Cup. Short version is: we moved forward during the Challenge Cup. We continue to improve, but we didn’t have much time with the new group and new players. Today I think you saw a group that’s taken another small step forward. It’s not, can’t score, now scoring three goals, everything’s fixed. No way. It wasn’t that bad and today it’s not that great. It’s an improvement. On top of that, we had tough conditions this week, thinking of the towns and the homes and the families that have been affected by the wildfires. For us, just the privilege of being able to be outside and be in this stadium felt like it may not get to happen at some point. Just being able to be outside and smell fresh air and compete was good after training indoors for a week. Today felt like our second time we’ve been out in eight or nine days. So proud that we’ve taken a forward step, but we got many, many more steps ahead with the attacking side of the game.”

On Sophia Smith’s debut performance…
“I think Sophia did great. I think more importantly Simone [Charley] and Tyler [Lussi] really set and important tone for us. Tyler won’t... I don’t know if she’s on the stat sheet for anything and obviously she wasn’t for goals, but I don’t know if there was an assist… assume Tyler wasn’t on the stat sheet, but the work she did was very, very important to our team. She’s tactically extremely disciplined, but I thought she showed maturity in back-to-goal stuff. Simone continues to improve on the defensive side and what we know, we’ve all seen in flashes, is she’s got some unbelievable special moments, special qualities and we want to keep encouraging them and making sure she believes that can happen all the time. Those two were setting an important tone for us. Sophia’s gone through a lot and it’s obviously been a challenging year on the physical side. Our medical team, performance teams have done such a great job. She’s mentally done a great job. Today, to get her on the pitch, just was special. Add the goal and the absolute moments that she had some good looks and ripped people apart. Nice bonus. Just great to see her on the pitch and now we get to build. She’s going to be a fun player. We’re excited to have her in Portland.”

On the tactical effect training indoors had on the team this week…
“We were inside from Friday last week. Our first session outside was Saturday, so just eight days we were unable to be outside. I like the spin that you’ve put on it, that we were indoor, tight spaces, decision making. I’ll be very honest. It was always about health and safety, so the performance and medical team did a great job advising us. We knew we needed to keep players physically safe and prepared to compete on a 11v11 field. So it became a bit of a math exam everyday of making sure that we hit certain numbers, we gave them distance, we gave them exposure. We actually sacrificed on the tactical side. We also prepared for playing against a 3-5-2 and then just before we went out, we assumed [Utah Royals FC] had gone with a 4-3-3 with their lineup. So it was always going to be the first 10-15 [minutes] trying to figure out what 11v11 felt like again. Again, it comes back to the opening message of just how proud I am of the group as people and what they’ve had to deal with and how they represented Portland, Ore. today. I’d rather be stuck indoors than be in situations some other people were this week and we gotta keep perspective. But yeah, it was a tough week and just barely get out, compete, get after it, this was a great building block. I think we got so much more in the tank and this builds us into these next three games.”

On Simone Charley’s growth as a player and performance today…
“Extremely proud of her development and improvement. The number one person who’s responsible for that is Simone. She’s always dedicated extra. She’s always worked harder. There’s parts of her game that are such strong qualities that make her very unique. We saw today, her dribbling ability and able to cut people is a massive quality of hers. She’s continued to improve on the defensive side. I think the next challenge that I’m excited to work with her on and make sure that she’s continuing to add to her game is consistency. She’s often exploded onto the scene and had really good moments early and now it’s our job and her job to make sure that this performance can happen every week. That she’s having the actions and the moments and the tactical discipline every week. We saw the same in the [Australian] W-League. When she went there, the first three, four games, she was untouchable. The best player in the league. Now I think the next challenge is to make sure that’s every week. That performance, that level of impact can be there. Does the ball go in every week? Does the assist happen? Those things are uncontrollable, but that level of consistency on the tactical side and making sure she really believes in her strengths, because they’re massive strengths that can make her so unique and make us a dangerous, effective team.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Simone Charley
On her goal and the team’s attacking performance...
“First of all, it was an amazing ball by Lindsey [Horan], as I always say, my teammates make my job so easy. So I'm very grateful for that, it was just great vision on her part. I think the goals that we scored were a culmination of the hard work we've been putting in these past few weeks, we've definitely had our fair share of adversity with the wildfires and being indoors and having worked through that, but I think our attitude has been great. We've been working hard, and I think just the result today, you can see the hard work that we've been, it's finally just kind of coming together. So I was very excited about that, and definitely proud of the team.”

On what the team wanted to work on after the NWSL Challenge Cup...
“I think one thing that we were just trying to build off is the attack from the Challenge Cup and being able to finish. In the Challenge Cup we had our fair share of opportunities, but didn't do the best job of putting it all together, and that was something we definitely focused on, is just not only having opportunities, but finishing those and finishing the attack. So that's definitely something that we've been working on these past few weeks, which I feel like it's starting to come together. So it is definitely exciting to see.”

On the team’s formation...
“I think just with getting more games under our belt, we just learned how to play in this new formation better, as well as continue to develop more chemistry together. I also think as you know, we have a whole bunch of new faces and new people here, and so I think that also makes the transition into a new formation a little easier because we're already having to get to know new people and adding a new formation, we're gonna have to build that chemistry anyway, so we might as well build the chemistry in a new formation. So I definitely think that that's something that we definitely had to build on this year, but it's definitely I feel like finally coming together.”

On what moments from today will stand out to her...
“I think just being in Providence Park. I know all of us are definitely missing our fans and wishing everyone could be here, but of course, you know, staying safe is the priority right now. But I think just being there and being on our turf, being at our home, it just feels it felt so good. Just to be back out there. So that's definitely something that I was excited about and excited to be here again.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Sophia Smith
On her emotions going into the game and after scoring...
“Going into the game obviously I was nervous and had butterflies, but that's normal because I haven't gotten to see the field in a while. But I was just excited to be back and to be healthy and to get to play with this amazing team, finally. I was just excited and after scoring a goal, it’s just surreal I'm still trying to kind of process it, but it's so exciting.”

On coming back from injury...
“It's exciting, I think injuries are hard in so many ways, and I've had to learn how to kind of be patient when I'm super close to being able to play but I'm just not quite there yet, and there were several times when I felt good and then I got into practice and started going a little more game like, and it started acting up again. So it was definitely frustrating, the process, but it came with a lot of rewards and I feel really good about where I'm at now so I'm just excited to keep playing and keep growing and hopefully get more and more minutes in each game. But I think the positive, aside from a good team win, is I feel good and I feel healthy.”

On the statement the team made with their shirts pregame...
“We’ve had a lot of conversations as a team over the past few months just about what's been going on in the world, the Black Lives Matter movement, and I think it was very important for us to make a statement and kind of do it in a different way. Our team is big into storytelling and we think that that's a really good way to get a point across, is to tell a story, so we just divided each t-shirt into parts of the story and we all came together, and I think we made a really powerful statement by doing that.”

On adjusting to the NWSL’s level of play...
“Yeah, I think 21 minutes isn't a big amount of time in a 90-minute game, but I think just being in there, especially towards the end of the game when emotions are high and teams are putting their bodies on the line to finish each chance, I think I got a really good taste of what it's gonna take to compete at this level and I think each game will just show me that more and more, but I'm excited.”

On celebrating her first professional goal...
“I think my first goal when I was young, I don't remember, but I'm sure I was very excited, but this is another level. I was just talking to some of my teammates and it was to the point where I don't even remember what happened, I was so excited. But just being able to celebrate with my teammates was just surreal.”

On the inconsistent training schedule the past few weeks...
“It's been tough, obviously this whole year you never know what's going to happen, in weeks or even days to come, but we've adjusted, we've been flexible, if we have to move indoors to train due to the smoke then we did, and we still got really good work in there. So  it's obviously not been normal preparation going into a game but we figured it out and it paid off.”

NOTES

  • Portland registered its fourth shutout across all competitions in 2020.
  • The three goals scored marked a team-high for the 2020 campaign.
  • Sophia Smith made her professional debut, tallying a goal three minutes after entering the game as a second-half substitute.
  • Lindsey Horan and Simone Charley each logged their second goals across all competitions in 2020.
  • Horan tallied her first assist of the 2020 campaign.
  • Meghan Klingenberg tallied her second assist in seven appearances across all competition in 2020.
  • Britt Eckerstrom logged her second shutout in her third appearance across all competitions for Thorns FC in 2020.
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