Tobin Heath, Allie Long, Thorns @ FCKC, 8.24.13

PORTLAND, OR. – If there is one message that Cindy Parlow Cone wants the Portland Thorns to remember going into the 2013 NWSL Championship final it is to believe in their own ability.

As they get set to take on the Western New York Flash in Sahlen’s Stadium on Saturday (5pm PT, FOX Soccer / FOX Sports 2, Free webstream trial:, the Thorns know that the confidence within their squad can prove to be a decisive factor in a tight game.

While individual and collective quality puts a team into a position to win games, it is self belief that gets them over the line. And that is exactly what happened in their gripping 3-2 overtime semifinal win over FC Kansas City.

For midfielder Allie Long, that victory was just the latest example of the stars alinging in the Thorns’ favor as they bid to finish off the inaugural NWSL season as its first ever champions.

“Right now, we’re in really good spirits. We’re so excited that we’re playing in the final and the way we won [against Kansas] gave us this confidence and unity and it’s perfect timing to peak and to come together at the right time,” said Long.

Even though they are confident that they can overcome any team in the league, the Thorns won’t be taking New York for granted--a team who finished the regular season on top of the table.

Yet, head coach Cone admitted that the match-up of two attack-minded teams will make it an entertaining duel and one that will further highlight the high standard of women’s soccer in the United States.

“This match is going to be a great match. Both of our games against them have been tremendous matches – both ending in ties. I think the fans are going to enjoy it, it’s going to be an entertaining game and it’s going to be a battle to the end,” said Parlow Cone.

“This was our goal all along [to get to the final] and our goal is still to win the Championship and we’ve put ourselves in a great position to go to Rochester and do our best to do that. Now it’s all about figuring out a way to win.”

The Thorns know what they can do after scoring 32 goals and securing 11 wins during the regular season. And the fact that each player knows their jobs allows the team to focus solely on winning the final, according to Long.

“It’s historic and it’s a great accomplishment to win any type of Championship let alone the first one of the entire league. We’ve definitely been set on our goal; we’re focused and we’re preparing because we want it so bad,” said Long.

Cone will want her team to play their own game and push New York onto the backfoot as often as possible, but she also acknowledges that they are an opposition who deserve respect and to be marked closely.

“I think two things: Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd. Both are fantastic, world-class players up front for them,” stated Parlow Cone about New York’s two big weapons.

“Abby can do it all; she can finish with both feet, she can finish with her head, she’s good at build-up play, and then she’s got Carli Lloyd working off her and Carli is a great dribbler, she can finish [too].

“In the back, they’re a very good defensive team and have one of the best goalkeepers in the league in AD [Adrianna Franch] and a tremendous back four. So we’re going to have our work cut out for sure.”

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