Rose Ceremony, Thorns FC vs. Seattle Reign FC, 05.26.16

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons
Overall thoughts on the match…
“I think the individual commitment and resilience to using all of their energy – it’s something we talked about all week. The effort, energy and the tank, we’ve been building a tank for three months for this opportunity and they emptied it tonight and left it all out there. It was a great performance all around. Players were committed to a strategy and we had a week to put that together and implement and I think they did that really well. There were a few moments where Seattle had some half chances and the stats show 11 shots, but there were a couple that I was worried about. Then I felt like there were some moments that I was really excited for us. We won the quality chance game, which is pretty unbelievable considering the circumstances and the strategy we took up because we played very defensive by minimizing space between. When you do that, it’s harder to get into attacking shape or attacking positions. I’m incredibly proud, probably the proudest night that I’ve been at the club so far.”

On Michelle Betos earning a clean sheet…
“For her, the back four and everyone else, it’s so good to have Mich [Michelle Betos] back from injury. We have Kendall [Johnson] and Kat [Williamson] working back. We’re excited to get anyone back and perform well. It isn’t a surprise for me because her focus and preparation to get ready is very good.”

On the game plan today versus the first meeting…
“At Memorial, we wanted to open up and commit bodies and try and overload certain areas to build our attack. Tonight, there were some players we didn’t want to move because of transition. You saw that with 20-25 minutes to go, people started to leave their pockets from our defensive shape to help us attack. When they won it, their best chances came from that and they zoomed into a pocket, faced up on the back four, which is what we wanted to minimize, so it’s different because we didn’t commit those bodies and we didn’t want them to leave pockets and holes to make sure they can’t counter us. I felt like the only way they could get a real chance tonight was from countering and that’s because our defensive shape and organization was going to be good, but Seattle had failed to break teams down and move players and get players out of the pockets they wanted to be in, so it’s just limiting their transition. Our engagement line, where we pressed, it was with momentum of the game. Sometimes you saw us pressing on the 18, other times we were on the half-way line. There’s different ways that we manage the momentum and when and where we push our pressing line.”

On getting a result at home…
“Keeping the distance what it is with Seattle, its good enough for sure. A clean sheet is exceptional. To stay undefeated at home and to stay undefeated across the league is fantastic. It’s very important psychologically and it’s very important for our minds and it’s very important to the teams that play against us. At home, I would love to be more expansive in this stadium. Winning comes first and trying to get three points, we tried to do that tonight, but also having a style where we want to hear the crowd more and we want to get to 21,000 fans every night here and to have soccer that excites people and makes them jump out of their seats. There’s times where you go into games where you have to keep the dream alive and grab points. Tonight, we wanted three and we grabbed one. It’s a huge success and its one closer to getting where we want to get to and there’ll be other nights where the entertainment will be there and the more free-flowing soccer will be there. Tonight was never going to be that night and the fact that the players took that on, committed to it, embraced it - because it can be tough mentally - just shows that they’re here for the team first and they’ve got great heart and that’s probably more satisfying than any result when you see every player and every staff member, top to bottom, give everything to the team to help the team. It’s cool.”

Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Michelle Betos
On how she feels after the game…
“I feel great. I mean, I’m just so proud of the team. I know that we only got one point, but it feels like three, and I think things like this are going to get us to where we want to go, and ultimately win a championship. This is going to be a huge point down the road, and I’m really proud of the team.”

On the play of the back line players…
“They were tremendous. Mallory Weber is not an outside back. The kid scored a ton of goals in college, you know, and this week we’re like, ‘hey, you play in the back now and I’m going to talk to you the entire game, so just, we got you.’ I think that was the message from some of the veterans, was ‘we got you.’ ‘Trust yourselves, you guys are here for a reason’, and they proved that. To keep Seattle off the board is really impressive for players who have been playing for two, three years. I mean, Meg Morris has such a cool story, getting here, she’s done so well for us this year. Mallory to step up like that, all the girls to step up, I mean, we couldn’t be prouder.”

On whether the team draws confidence from getting the clean sheet while playing without six of the U.S. National Team players…
“Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think we knew going into this game that we had people that were going to fight. But you never know. You haven’t seen some of these girls play in a 90-minute NWSL game, and they were just so great. I mean, I can’t get over it. I am so proud of them. The one thing we said was, ‘don’t judge yourselves, don’t analyze the game, the only thing you’re going to walk away regretting is not working and leaving everything out there’, and I think when that game ended, I think everybody was pretty happy, but they were so exhausted that they couldn’t even really celebrate. That’s what it’s going to take. That’s what this season is going to look like. When our National Team players are gone, we’re going to have to grind out results. We have talent, but we also have girls who are just going to leave everything out for the team. I think this is something special.”

On how the team’s young players a few years ago have matured…
“It is a weird thing because you never really feel like a veteran. Last year, I was like ‘oh, I’m a baby. Nadine’s 38, or 37.’ You know, it’s all relative, but my third year here, Tobin’s fourth year, Kat’s fourth year, we’ve all kind of grown up together, which has been pretty cool. Now to have a new crop of players coming in, it’s funny. I love working with Emily Kruger. We love giving her feedback, and you know, Tobin [Heath] and Allie [Long] have talked about how they just see so much potential in Celeste [Boureille] – players we can help come through this program and do really well. It’s a cool opportunity, but it is always weird to think, ‘oh, I’m one of the older ones, I’m put in that spot’. But I also think that’s the nature of the game. With the World Cup or Olympics, girls are going to get chances that maybe they wouldn’t have gotten before, and a day like today, they proved themselves.”

Portland Thorns FC defender Emily Menges
On how the back line kept the clean sheet against Seattle…
“A whole lot of communication, and we knew going out, especially with a lot of new people on the back line, or just in different places – up front, in defense, center mids – we knew we were just going to have to communicate so much – stay so compact, keep our lines really close together, and if they need to they were going to go wide. If they needed to, they were going to go over, and we knew to drop. So just tons of communication.”

On the team’s attitude to the draw, especially given the six missing U.S. Women’s National Team Players…
“Well, we had better chances in the first half, I thought, for sure. Second half, they got some more chances, but I always thought we could win. A tie is great. A tie, I mean it’s not as good as a win obviously, but knowing that this is going to be our core group for the Olympics, I mean, just because we’re missing a few people doesn’t make us less of a team. This is the team, the core team that’s been here the entire time. And people are going to come in and out this whole season, but this is our group, and this is our team, so it doesn’t make us any less of the Thorns. Going forward, knowing that we have that heart, and that we are going to play the 97 minutes that we played [against Seattle], that definitely boosts our morale looking forward to July and August.”

On how her responsibilities have changed, especially in regards to her leadership role on the team…
“Last year, we played a different formation, so it was a bit odd, and with Kat [Thorns FC defender Kat Williamson] gone – we didn’t expect Kat to be gone – but even as just a center back or on the back line, I’m going to talk a ton because I can see everybody. So my role is more or less the same. I’m not the youngest person on the team anymore, and I’ve even been called a veteran [laughs]. But yeah, if I have to come into more of a leadership role, then I feel capable in my ability, but just as center backs and outside backs, my role has stayed pretty consistent.”

On the grit of the team so far this season…
“Well, our new goalie coach, Nadine [former Thorns FC goalkeeper Nadine Angerer], before every single game tells us, ‘no kindergarten!’ which who knows what that means or translates to in German, but basically, ‘don’t come out like a bunch of kindergartners.’ And so that’s her biggest thing, and that’s the last thing we hear before we come out of the locker room. So yeah, we get stats for our first and second balls and our 50-50 balls, so we see if we didn’t get the job done on the gritty side of the game, so yeah, for sure that’s way more in our minds this year than in the past.”


Notes

  • Sunday’s attendance of 18,114, the largest crowd for a match this season, was the fourth-largest crowd for a Thorns FC match in club history, and it marked the fourth time Portland has drawn a crowd of more than 18,000 for a game.
  • Midfielder Celeste Boureille and defender McKenzie Berryhill made their professional debuts in the match.
  • Midfielder Hayley Raso earned her first career start for Thorns FC in the match.
  • Making four saves in the match, goalkeeper Michelle Betos reached 100 saves for her NWSL career.
  • Portland improved to 5-4-2 in the all-time series with Seattle, including a mark of 3-2-1 at Providence Park.
  • Thorns FC have limited their last three opponents to single-digit shot attempts and four or fewer shots on goal.
  • Midfielder Mana Shim made her 40th career start for Thorns FC in the match.
  • Defender Emily Menges is the only player to have played every minute of the first seven matches this season for Portland.
  • Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last six home matches (4-0-2), dating back to the 2015 season.
  • Forward Nadia Nadim, midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Menges are the only three players to start every match for Thorns FC this season.