Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 0, Seattle Reign FC 1 | July 22, 2015

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley
On the match overall..
“Yeah, the consistency problem is a good way to start. I think we lacked a lot in the final third. I think we looked a bit out of sync, you know. I guess it’s a work in progress in the final third, we just don’t seem to be able to create enough chances, just not dynamic enough in the final third. I think we defended pretty well against players like Pinoe [Megan Rapinoe], Kim Little and [Jessica] Fishlock. The two of them around the midfield, I thought we did a decent job on them. They’re tough to contain, but it just takes one moment of Kim Little and the game’s over. But I was disappointed with the final third. There were some good moments in the game, but we just looked out of sync tonight and inconsistent.”

On how the loss affects the team’s chances at making the NWSL playoffs:
“The bell’s starting to ring, I think. We’re running out of games, there’s no question. Obviously this was a huge game for us tonight, now you got to go to Seattle and get a win. You got to go on the road and get a win there, and then turn around to Western New York and get a win. I think we have to have those. Without those results, we’re in trouble now. Especially at home, you got four home games left, we have four home games and they’ve got to be wins, I think.”

On how important he sees Sunday’s road game against Seattle:
“I think it’s massive. It’s massive for us. They got the points here tonight so they’ll be quite content to go home with three points, but for us, Sunday’s a must-win, I think, at this point. We didn’t have too much success there last season, so we’ve got to turn that around and go on the road, which we haven’t done. We haven’t done that well on the road, but we’ll get results hopefully. Hopefully we’ll get Jodie Taylor available, which I think would give us some punch up front. We still lack a little bit up front. For me, they just didn’t do enough. The midfield had their moments – tackling and winning balls – but just distribution in the first half, last 20 minutes of the first half, we just turned the ball over. We could never get up the field. Cat [Steph Catley] and Emily [Menges] could never get up the field. I think second half we started to get the feel a little bit more, but didn’t create enough. I thought the first five, 10 minutes of the second half, we looked like we got some spark to us, but Little got back on the ball and Fishlock got back on the ball and they just took over the game again.”

On how the team plans to integrate the World Cup players with the rest of the squad:
“I think it’s different players, different perspectives for each of the players that went to the World Cup, and how much they played in the World Cup. I think Tobin [Heath] is a lot different from Kaylyn Kyle, and Sinc [Christine Sinclair]. Sinc had a great week of practice. I think maybe her just getting back into the flow, she probably needed this game to just get another game under her belt. Some of them haven’t played in two, three weeks. You know, those players, Kaylyn Kyle hasn’t played in a while, McCall [Zerboni] hasn’t played in three weeks and she looked a bit rusty tonight, I thought. Work rate was excellent, but we just weren’t tight enough on the ball. [Clare] Polkinghorne obviously hasn’t played a game since before the World Cup, she got injured right before the World Cup, so we got to get her fit. She’s probably about 80 percent, 85, fitness-wise. And you got to get Jodie [Taylor] fit. You know, the backline has been pretty good, Steph Catley slotted in. She played last year so she’s pretty easy. She’s probably 80 percent, too. She’s carrying a knock still, but we had no choice but to get them in the lineup as fast as possible. My job’s to put them together, put them on the field and, you know, I felt pretty confident coming in. We played a game last weekend, on Sunday, and that lineup that went out tonight, went out Sunday and they played really well and looked sharp – dangerous in the final third. Come game time today, we just didn’t look that dangerous in the final third, so it’s back to the drawing board.”

On what he thought of Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath’s performance:
“I’d like to see her create a little bit more. She’s our spark plug. They have Kim Little and they’ve got Fishlock, we have Tobin. When she gets it, you can see the anticipation of the crowd, even on the bench too, everybody anticipates something’s going to happen. But they doubled-up quick on her tonight a lot of times. They got support in behind her. You know, Tobin’s coming off a heavy World Cup. I think if we played last Saturday, she would have played. She’s probably one of the few World Cup players who would have played. She plays in the bathtub. I think that’s what I love about Tobin. She doesn’t have that superstar mentality that you know, ‘I’m not really quite ready yet.’ She wants to play and keep on going. I think tonight she showed glimpses of really good stuff. You can never fault her work rate. She’s good on both sides of the ball. Some people say those types of players aren’t like that, but she works hard on both sides of the field.”

On the special atmosphere of the sellout crowd in attendance:
“That’s the biggest slap in the face for us, you know. The fans were fantastic tonight. Even at the start of the second half, we got a little bit of momentum and you could feel the fans getting up, they’re all off their seats. It was such momentum for the team, but we just couldn’t deliver. To lay an egg on a game when you have that many people, it’s tough. It’s a tough one for everybody to swallow, and you could see the disappointment in the group, and I’m sure they’re disappointed in the fan base, too. But to put that kind of number up is unbelievable. You know, again, we’ve got to go to Seattle and win for them, really. Usually we travel two, three thousand to Seattle with us, so I’m hoping they make the journey up. You can see women’s soccer has come a long way in the last, even in the last two months maybe, it’s come a long way. But we didn’t deliver tonight unfortunately for us with the kind of crowd like that. Hopefully we can get them back and do a better job against Boston.”

On how long he thinks the World Cup bounce will last for the NWSL and Portland:
“I think in Portland, the buzz is soccer. It’s a soccer city and it will always be here. You know, the women’s side here has grown and grown. I know Merritt [Thorns FC owner Merritt Paulson] probably, you know, two years ago wasn’t too sure how it was all going to work out. I think he was probably shocked to see the kind of numbers crowd-wise that we brought in tonight. I’m sure it’s been a massive feather in his cap, and Gavin [Thorns FC general manager Gavin Wilkinson] too, for the two of them to see the crowd get to such big numbers. But the true test of the World Cup is probably not this year. It’s probably in the season ticket sales for next year for all the clubs. And you have to take us out of that one. We’re an anomaly when it comes to that. But you know, with Boston, Chicago, these places that have a huge boost right now, can they deliver season tickets and stuff? I know all the teams are working hard to get it done. We’re all in this together. Our job is to entertain. Our job is to put teams out that people want to come pay money to watch, and put them in suitable stadiums for people to watch. I think that’s the next step for everybody and hopefully they can do that, the whole league.”

Portland Thorns FC Midfielder Tobin Heath
On coming back and playing in Portland…
“It was obviously incredible to see the turnout especially after the World Cup. It’s not surprising. The fans here are super special so in that way they’re always breaking records and doing something crazy. We’re really proud to represent this city, obviously we wish for a better outcome and better performance but in terms of the fans they’re always top class. They always bring it.”

On if including World Cup players back into the lineup changed things…
“I don’t know. I don’t really think we can put our finger on one thing. It could have been but we just didn’t perform.”

On celebrating the World Cup win in Portland…
“It was great. Obviously a number of the fans followed us throughout the World Cup and that support was incredible so in that way it’s huge to come back and remember. I was saying when I left I didn’t know what was the result was going to be when I came home but I wanted to bring that championship back here to Portland so it’s cool celebrating that.”

On if there is catching up to do between returning World Cup players and integrating with the club...
“Ya. Obviously we hoped to come in and raise the level but tonight it didn’t happen.”

On the importance of every game with eight games of the regular-season remaining…
“It’s huge. Every game is huge for us now. I think we have to take each game. Tonight was hard. It was really hard. I think I would have felt better coming in and having a better performance but it wasn’t. We have to go to Seattle and we have to make something happen hopefully there but every game for us now is important. Right now our focus is on playing Seattle again.”

On if there are any takeaways from tonight’s match that will help when facing Seattle again…
“Ya, I mean we’re really familiar with them. It’s not like they did anything crazy. They added [Megan] Rapinoe into the lineup, that’s about it but they’re a great team. In that way, we have a tough test ahead. Obviously we can’t play the way we did tonight in Seattle.”

Portland Thorns FC Defender Rachel Van Hollebeke
On the environment with the fans…
“It was amazing. I think we broke records tonight. It was just incredible to be part of that and to see all the fans and the cheering. It’s always awesome but this was an especially great environment tonight.”

On turning around and facing Seattle on the road after the outcome tonight…
“I think it’ll be great, sort of, motivation. Their game plan, their style is very fresh in our minds so we will know what they’re going to bring. We’ll just have to use everything we learned from playing them tonight and prepare for the next game and bring it in Seattle.”

On if including World Cup players back into the lineup changed things…
“I think that a lot of the players have been in and out throughout the season so it wasn’t a totally fresh lineup or anything but there is always a little bit of an adjustment period. I think as people come back and they’ve all just had a crazy experience in their life too so hopefully we’ll be more integrated for next game too.”

On the mentality of the locker room with eight games of the regular season left…
“We need to get results and that’s our goal. That definitely weighs on us and is something we feel a lot of responsibility, to get those wins.

On if there was pressure going into tonight’s match…
“For sure. I think we really want to win for our fans and when we don’t we feel really disappointed and we feel bad. Our fans give so much and support us no matter what and we want to win that much more for them.”

Notes:                                                                                               

  • Thorns FC set a new NWSL attendance record with a sellout crowd of 21,144, breaking the previous record of 19,123 set by Portland on Aug. 3, 2014 against the Houston Dash. The sellout was the first in Thorns FC history.
  • The crowd ranks as the second-largest, stand-alone crowd in the history of women’s professional soccer in the United States. The largest stand-alone crowd was at the inaugural match of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) in 2001 between the Washington Freedom and the Bay Area CyberRays on April 14, 2001 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. (34,148).
  • Wednesday marked the fifth time Portland has drawn a crowd of better than 16,000 fans since 2013.
  • A total of 10 players from five different countries (United States, Canada, England, Australia, Germany) were honored prior to the match for their participation in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
  • A total of six players who competed at the Women’s World Cup appeared in the match: Tobin Heath (United States), Megan Rapinoe (United States), Christine Sinclair (Canada), Kaylyn Kyle (Canada), Steph Catley (Australia) and Clare Polkinghorne (Australia).
  • Midfielder Sinead Farrelly remains the only Thorns FC player to start and play 90 minutes in every match for the team this season.
  • Defender Emily Menges made her 19th consecutive start, dating back to the 2014 season. In addition, Menges surpassed 3,000 career minutes in the match.
  • Defender Rachel Van Hollebeke made her 40th career appearance for Thorns FC in the match.
  • Midfielder McCall Zerboni returned to the starting lineup after serving a two-game suspension for a red card she received on June 19, 2015, in a match against FC Kansas City.
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