Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 5, Boston Breakers 2 | August 5, 2015

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley
On the match…
“We knew yesterday Jodie [Taylor] would be in the lineup today. I think Jodie makes a difference to everybody. She helps Sinc [Christine Sinclair] out obviously straight away, helped Allie [Long] out straight away. I think we were talking to Allie all week about going back to playmaking and not trying to win the game for the team. She went back to playmaking today which was similar to the way she was playing earlier in the season and she found a lot of space underneath. The space underneath comes from Jodie’s ability to stretch the line and she stretched the line well in the first half. I thought we should’ve gone into the break a little ahead of what we had. I think we had eight shots to zero and it was 1-1. Sinc had a great game underneath, Sinc and Allie have a good relationship. We changed things around a little bit even from the win against Western New York. We flipped McCall [Zerboni] out to the outside and brought Sinead [Farrelly] in and obviously McCall probably had her best game of the season. She looked good out there, good in isolation, good in one-on-one. Tobin [Heath] got isolated a lot on the left-hand side and Kaylyn [Kyle] just held them all together. She was like the rock there just sitting in the middle and winning everything, winning all the first balls. It’s still a work in progress, I know that’s hard to say with five games to go, but you’ve got Jodie who has played her second game, Kaylyn who played her fourth game of the season, Sinc who played her fourth game, Clare [Polkinghorne] who is playing her fourth or fifth game. I feel like we’re still a work in progress, we still have to get Alex [Morgan] back and Steph [Catley] back. There’s still more work to do, I just wish we had a couple more games.”

On getting the offense going…
“We’ve worked a lot on the final third, but again you’re missing Alex Morgan, you’re missing Jodie Taylor, you’re missing Christine Sinclair and Ayo is not here tonight because she’s at Olympic qualifying with the Equatorial Guinea team. Our four forwards have been missing most of the season. It’s left a lot on Mana’s [Shim] shoulders, Allie’s shoulders, McCall’s shoulders, Sinead’s shoulders and I think having [the forwards] back has given them a new lease on life and they can play more of their positions and not feel like they have to take the whole team on their shoulders. I think it’s just helped everyone having [the forwards] around. They score goals, they get in good areas. You make the other team think about it. When you see Jodie Taylor and Sinclair on the team sheet, you think it’s not going to be that easy of a day and then all of a sudden Alex Morgan is on the team sheet and those things mean a lot. …I think for periods this season we haven’t been able to stretch teams with all our speed not playing up front so teams squeeze us up and all of a sudden there’s no space for us to play in midfield where we’re probably more dynamic. When we can’t be dynamic, we’re down the swanee so to speak and I think that’s what happened in some of the games where we haven’t been scoring goals.”

On if there is enough time to get back into playoff contention…
“To be honest, for us we talk about the process all season and it’s a work in progress. It’s about getting results and about the three points on Sunday. We’ve got a lot of big teams ahead of us, obviously Chicago on Sunday and we go to FC Kansas City. Washington is just after that. All the teams ahead of us are in our sights in the next few weeks. It’s about us and how we play and if we continue to play like that we’ll get results and wherever it takes us, it takes us. We’ve left no room for error, let’s be fair. It’s a one-off game we won tonight. I’m not getting carried away. I told the players don’t get carried away. Sunday is more important than anything – a game against Chicago who has only lost one game all season. They got pace up front, they’ve got pace in the midfield, and they’re athletic in the back. Besides us I think they have the most players from the World Cup coming back. They’ve had a couple of ties recently just trying to format everyone back in their lineup same as we’ve been doing. They’re a good side. In my view, them and Seattle are the two best sides in the league. It’s up to us to make sure we’re ready to play on Sunday.”

On how the three games in eight days impacts squad selection…
“It was one of the reasons to give Rachel [Van Hollebeke] a rest. I thought last time with three games in eight days with the trip to the East Coast too, by the third game we started to get a little bit tired. I think the same thing again. We don’t have a ton of options, we’ve got 14 field players available because of injuries and absences. We took a chance playing Jodie 45 minutes and we figured after halftime she’d be sore so we pulled her. Mana is in good form, Kendall is probably going to find time now. Kaylyn Kyle, it was a refreshing performance from her tonight. We’ve only got 14-15 [players] to manage, it’s not like you’re managing 20 so we’ll do the best we can. The next one is the big one for us, all our focus is on getting three points against Chicago and then taking care of Kansas hopefully after that.”

On moving forward…
“We went six games with only one goal and that was the goalkeeper who scored the goal so I think the biggest thing is the final third of the field that we’ve really been working on for five or six weeks now, but big players make the difference in the final third. I think people coming back, it’s a work in progress, and we’ll keep pushing. To have Jodie back and Sinc back and Alex hopefully getting fit and back in the lineup will give us a boost. …I told the players to forget the league, just worry about the next game, worry about Chicago. You talk about peaking at the end of the season and I’m not saying we’re peaking, but at least we’re moving forward in the right direction. The crowd was great tonight, showed up again on a Wednesday night. They’ve helped us through difficult patches there’s no question. The confidence is higher now. When you have these games close together it’s must easier when you’re winning.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Jodie Taylor
On how she felt with her minutes…
“I think I felt worse in the World Cup. Being rushed into minutes, half an hour and then 90 minutes against Canada. I felt alright for a half, we’re progressing well.”

On if she’ll have to continue managing her knee…
“I think we’re going to have to be a bit careful probably for the rest of the season but it’s progressing really well through training. We haven’t done anything stupid that’s why I haven’t played any games the past few weeks. I’m being managed well. I take it day by day and 45 minutes today was perfect and I’m feeling good right now so that’s a positive.”

On the feeling after scoring her first Thorns goal…
“It’s amazing. This is what you work hard for. This is what you get through the injuries for. We have an amazing crowd that comes every game. It’s just fascinating how many supporters we get and to actually play a part and score today felt pretty good.”

On if there has been adjusting from focusing at the World Cup to now playing the NWSL season…
“It was challenging to get through an injury during a World Cup. The amount of hours spent rehabbing is insane so I’m in a better place right now with it. Just to get back, I feel like I haven’t played many games this year so I’m motivated to just get back to full fitness. Aside from my knee I feel pretty darn fresh to be honest with you. I’m just raring to go. Again just progressing, being smart, managing my injury but it’s going really well.”

On if she felt the fans were encouraged during the game…
“I think so. I think we were creating a lot of chances, even in the first half. I still think we’re trying to gel. Still trying to be where I want the ball. I was wanting [the ball] a bit quicker and maybe slightly more direct. I know we don’t really like the word direct here but there were times we could have played a lot quicker. I think we started that out the second half and it showed because we scored a bag full of goals. Hopefully the crowd enjoyed that one today.”

On if they are ready to play a couple of matches within a small window…
“I think so. I think the squad is being managed pretty well as well there were a few players in the starting lineup today that were probably a bit fresher than others. We do have a good squad and quite a lot of depth to our team that maybe other squads don’t have the benefit of. [With a game] Sunday [and] Wednesday I think we’re pretty well prepared.”

On if Paul Rileyl has spoken about the upcoming match with Chicago…
“No. It’s game by game. We just want the three points and it was just nice to get that one. We have recovery tomorrow and our attention is straight to Chicago now. It’s the best way to do it, game by game.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder McCall Zerboni 
On the emotion of scoring back to back goals…
“I think from the first whistle we came out strong. We were creating a lot of opportunities but we weren’t necessarily putting them in the back of the net. At halftime we just talked about keep doing what we were doing and putting away the chances we get. Obviously, a little bit sense of relief but also a little bit of energy like, ‘alright we got the ball rolling, keep putting it in the back of the net’. My teammates really made me look good out there today and it was all that activity from the routes like Jodie [Taylor], [Christine] Sinclair, Mana [Shim], Allie [Long], all their work off the ball made it easy for me.”

On what she saw on her first goal…
“Allie is such a talented player and she has a quick speed of play so as soon as picked up the ball I could kind of read when she was going to hit that ball. [I wanted] just [to] get a run that’s going to stay onside, on time. We have a good connection together and we have great training sessions so we’re able to learn those things about each other and get on the same page and execute those things.”

On playing her role and contributing on the scoresheet…
“I think the team and the coaches asked me to play a little bit different role today and I was happy that I could get a job done for the team. It’s not normally what I’ve been doing previously in the season but I’m glad that they had the trust in me and supported me in that role and made me look good tonight.”

On if there is still time to make a playoff run…
“Absolutely. The belief in the squad is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We have such great character and we have such a determination that nothing is going to get in our way. That was a tribute to tonight. You can see what great character and talent we have. We’re such a good squad and we have such a great belief in each other and this process and our leadership. We’re going to do this.”

On if tonight’s win was a statement…
“Absolutely. If you look at our front line we’re so dangerous and we have so much dynamic. We have skill, we have speed, we have width, we have depth, we have creativity, we have simplicity, and we have everything you could ask of a front line. We’re going to be a handful and I’m not going to say too much but we will show it.”

On the importance of being able to shift players around and have different partnerships…
“I think it’s an example of our depth and our talent. Obviously we have so many great players and we have to figure out how to get them all on the field and playing three in the back is something new that no one has ever done in women’s professional soccer at this level. We’re taking a risk but we’re believing in our leadership and our coaching staff and we’re learning every day and we’re executing the plan.”

On what she saw from her team when Boston got the equalizing goal in the first half…
“I felt that, that could be a moment where a team puts their head down and is like, ‘oh here we go again’ or ‘we’re unlucky’ but, like I said, the character within this group, we didn’t let it faze us. We shook it off and had [our] eyes on the prize. [We were] persevering and that’s a tribute to the character that is going to take us to the top.”

On having more spacing on the field tonight…
“I thought we did a good job with our patience, so staying wide. Everyone’s tendency is to come closer to the ball because they want the ball and we have good footballers who enjoy having the ball at their feet. I think the sacrifice and that unselfishness to stay wider and give each other that space to work with I think that really helped us tonight. [We had] good spacing to move the ball and let people do their work.”

Notes:                                                                                               

  • Forward Jodie Taylor earned her second career start for Thorns FC, making her first appearance in the lineup since returning from the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
  • Taylor’s goal was her first of the season and the first goal of her Thorns FC career.
  • Long surpassed forward Alex Morgan for first place all-time on the team’s scoring chart, tallying her 10th career assist in the match.
  • Midfielder Allie Long registered her 10th career assist in the match. With the assist, Long becomes the first player to record at least 10 career goals and 10 assists for the club.
  • Long is now Thorns FC’s all-time career leader in goals (18), assists (10) and points (47).
  • Midfielder McCall Zerboni scored her first career goal for Thorns FC.
  • Zerboni became the sixth different player to tally a brace in Thorns FC history.
  • Portland has scored four or more goals in each of its last three matches at home against Boston, dating back to 2014.
  • Thorns FC improved to 3-1-0 all-time at home against the Breakers, outscoring Boston 15-5 in the last three matches at Providence Park.
  • Long has registered a goal or an assist in nine of Thorns FC’s 15 matches this season.
  • Portland is 14-0-3 all-time when Long scores, including a record of 5-0-1 this season.
  • Thorns FC are 21-2-5 all-time when scoring first in a match and 20-1-4 when scoring two or more goals in a game.
  • A Thorns FC player has recorded a multiple-goal game in each of the last three meetings at home against Boston: Christine Sinclair (3g, July 20, 2014), Allie Long (2g, April 11, 2015), McCall Zerboni (2g, Aug. 5, 2015).
  • Portland has outscored its opponents 32-15 in its last 13 matches at Providence Park, scoring multiple goals in seven of those matches.
  • Midfielder Tobin Heath registered her first point and assist of the 2015 season.
  • Forward Christine Sinclair has tallied an assist in consecutive matches.
  • Long has a goal or an assist in six of Portland’s eight home matches in 2015.
  • Defenders Kat Williamson and Emily Menges, along with Long, are the only three players to start every match for Portland this season.
  • Defender Emily Menges made her 23rd consecutive start, dating back to the 2014 season.
  • Six different players tallied a goal or an assist in the match for Portland.
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