PORTLAND, Ore. – One road match down, three to go.
Portland Thorns FC will spend the next two weeks on the East Coast as they prepare for critical matches against the Boston Breakers (May 1, 2pm PT, Webstream) and Washington Spirit (May 7, 4 p.m. PST).
Head coach Mark Parsons certainly isn't looking past any of his team's opponents.
“Boston's going to be a really tough game,” said head coach Mark Parsons. “They're an organized, hard-working group. They're probably going to be our toughest test that we've had so far. We'll be ready, reenergized, and organized to take on that challenge.”
The team had its first training session together Wednesday since returning from Kansas City. After what Parsons described as an “intense” video session in the morning, the team came out for a high-energy session intended to help smooth out some of the wrinkles.
“Training was good,” said Thorns defender Katherine Reynolds. “I thought that people had a lot of energy. We know that we have a lot of things to improve on and we know we have a huge road trip coming up, so I think everyone is just focused and ready to get after it this week.”
Even with scoring two goals in the team's first two matches, midfielder Lindsey Horan thinks the Thorns can still improve on this road trip.
“I think we're such a good team at playing soccer in general,” she said. “I think the teams that we've played have done a really good job of trying to stop that and trying to stop me and Allie [Long] from getting on the ball and [applying] really high pressure.
“Looking forward to the next games, we need to find a way to get out of that pressure and do better and play ‘our soccer’ and not get flustered in the beginning of the game.”
Parsons is hoping that his team's character – so instrumental in its come-from-behind draw against Kansas City last week – will help it grind out crucial road results against Boston, Washington and Seattle.
“We want three points at the weekend, but it's not going to come easy,” Parsons said. “It's going to be a good test of character. It's going to build more character.”
Added forward Nadia Nadim: “The goal is to win the game [against Boston] and improve as a team. We started this journey together and every game we're trying to improve; every practice session we're trying to learn something new and there's always a lot of stuff that we can improve on so it's step by step.”
Taking care of the soccer aspect is one thing, but what about the travel?
Nadim and Reynolds both acknowledged that the players have a lot of downtime on road trips. But this, they both pointed out, can be a big advantage for a team filled with new players like this year's Thorns team. It's an opportunity, they explained, to come closer together as a unit.
“On this road trip, obviously, we'll have time to talk to everyone and get to know everyone a little bit better,” said Reynolds.