Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 2, Chicago Red Stars 1 | Aug 9, 2015

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley
On getting the win…
“Obviously we had a rough spell in the middle of the season. I said last week that it was a work in progress for us and we’re trying to bring new players into the team. Lianne [Sanderson] just arrived two days ago and for us to bring them into the team it just takes time. I’m happy with the way the group has progressed. I think the back three have gotten used to playing as a back three and the wingbacks have gotten used to tucking in. I thought McCall [Zerboni] and Tobin [Heath] did a good job wrapping around tonight and getting in good areas going forward too. I think all the pieces are just coming together. The best one on the field was probably Kaylyn Kyle tonight. I think she anchored the midfield really well, ably supported by Sinead [Farrelly], I think she did a good job and Allie [Long] provided the goals for us. I think the work-rate is good, we made it difficult for Chicago. They’re a good side, they’ve got a lot of speed up front and they went with a front three. They have been playing in a diamond and we had a feeling they would go with three up front and they spread us out. I thought the back three equipped themselves really well. Clare [Polkinghorne] is getting better by the game, Emily [Menges] and Kat [Williamson] have been very consistent so far this season. Overall, a good display against a very good side. They had only lost one game all season, they’re going to be tough. That’s why they’re in the place they are in the league. The league doesn’t lie.”

On the play of Kaylyn Kyle and the other midfielders…
“I think if you ask anyone on the team what are Kaylyn Kyle’s strengths, her strength is she always wants the ball. She makes great runs, she’s always open if you look the game tape she’s always in a good area of the field and always wants the ball. She’s awfully good in the air as you probably saw tonight and her distribution is good. The one thing we’ve tried to improve is just speed of play, ability to switch the play and range of passing they’re the little things we’ve challenged her with to get her even better. She’s been a huge plus for us coming into the lineup the last couple weeks. She had a hamstring problem when we got her back from the World Cup and now she’s over that and you can see the difference in her. You know, Clare [Polkinghorne] is settling in and getting better. It’s difficult coming in from that World Cup. I think Sinc [Christine Sinclair] has maybe made Kaylyn feel comfortable to coming back in the lineup. I’m happy with the midfield. I think Sinead, Allie and Mana [Shim] were carrying the group and I think Kaylyn, Sinc, Clare have taken a little bit of pressure off them. And Tobin Heath, I have to see our GPS numbers, she was all over the place tonight. Hats off to the players, they worked their socks off tonight against a good side. Chicago, they unravel the game with 20 minutes to go and the ball is getting pinged in, they have four, five, six up front. Julie Johnston is running through the midfield with the ball. Julie Johnston was unbelievable tonight. Christen Press is a handful, [Melissa] Tancredi was a handful. I thought we handled them pretty well considering the amount of pace they’ve got up front.”

On facing FC Kansas City on a quick turnaround…
“It’s consistency of performance that we’ve been looking for and we’ve started to get a little bit more consistency throughout the groups from the goalkeeper to the front line. Kansas is a good side, I know all their players well, and all of them have played for me before. They’ve got all their World Cup players, they’re integrating probably as much as Chicago is and as much as we are in terms of the most integration as anyone in the league. We haven’t been so successful on the road, but we go to Kansas in great spirits and great confidence. We don’t arrive until late tomorrow night, but I’ve told the group that sometimes it’s better to get the games one after the other, you’re winning games and you feel like you can just go on the field and make a couple changes and we’ll be fine. The confidence is throughout the lineup, they feel like they can get the job done. We’re in a good spot and Kansas is not going to be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination. Everyone has tough games ahead of them, we’ve only got four left and we’re just worried about Kansas, getting points in Kansas and getting home and we’ve got 10 days [between games] after that.”

On continuing to start Michelle Betos at goalkeeper…
“I just think the team right now is comfortable with her. Michelle played the home Seattle game, Nadine [Angerer] played the away Seattle game. Basically, I took the two of them in and said that whoever wins first is going to stay in the lineup. Michelle was the next up, she won the game. She’s been here a little bit long, I feel like she’s a bit more comfortable with the back line. It’s hard to keep swapping because they’re definitely different and the defense plays different when one’s behind them. They just seem comfortable right now [with Michelle]. Nadine has been very professional. She’s been great in training in all honesty. When you watch them you see that they are two top goalkeepers. I think there is competition throughout the squad and when there is competition everybody is playing well and now when you go to practice it’s a whole different world than it was a month-and-a-half ago. When you’re chasing Tobin Heath instead of chasing somebody else that’s not quite that level it’s a different game and I think everybody is on their toes. Practice yesterday was fantastic, went for 35-40 minutes and you’d think they were playing for a World Cup that’s how competitive it’s gotten. I think Nadine and Michelle, they’re competitive players and Nadine is going to be professional and wait for her opportunity and maybe it comes, who knows. It could be on Wednesday, it could be the next game. She’s just got to stay around, you just never know what’s going to happen.”

Portland Thorns FC Forward Allie Long
On her second goal…
“I guess Sinead [Farrelly] was facing forward and she played a great, little disguised ball. I think the whole back line was thinking she was going to play an entry ball to Sinc or Tobin [Heath] and so I was screaming at her for it and she found me. I had time to tee it up and I’ve been practicing a lot, staying after practice, shooting from those areas so I was happy it finally went in, in a game.”

On how tonight’s match helps them going forward in the playoff chase…
“This was crucial. I think this was probably the biggest game of the season so far. We needed these points against a great side who is top of the table with Seattle. We needed that and we’re just focused on one game at a time. When we go to Kansas we need to get the job done. Get a least a point, obviously we’re going there to win but [tonight] was crucial.”

On if things are starting to get more comfortable with the return of Christine Sinclair...
“Yes. As soon as you bring everyone back on it alters the entire game. The defense isn’t just worrying about me now, they’re worrying about Sinc, they’re worrying about Tobin, they’re worrying about Jodie [Taylor] and that’s nice because it gives me some room. Like you said, today I think everyone was going after Sinc and Tobin and Sinead was able to find me and I was alone. Playing with Sinc, she could be gone for a month and come back in and it’s pretty seamless. Me and her have a good connection and I know where she wants it. But yes, it’s finally coming together and we’re the type of team when we need points we pull them out. I don’t know if that’s a bad quality or a good quality but we’re getting the job done and we’re going to continue.”

On how individual performances are helping the overall team chemistry…
“I think that we’ve been messing around with a lot of formations and now that we’re in a settled formation and we know our roles, it’s easier to play. Everyone on the field is a footballer and we all like to combine and play and possess the ball. I know Paul did a great job of bringing everyone who’s on the same page to this team. So, it’s been a lot easier with everyone and everyone’s stepping up. We need points. It’s time to go big or you go home but it’s been great. Everyone’s been pulling their weight and more so it’s been awesome.”

On how the team responded to Chicago scoring first…
“I think it was kind of a slow start. As soon as they scored we kind of woke up a little bit. I don’t want to say we were asleep necessarily but I guess it kind of took us a goal to pick up the pace. We had a lucky goal just like they did so I thought it was fair. We went into the locker room and our goal was to win the second half and that’s what we did. But going back on your heels is never easy but we were mentally in and we didn’t give up. We didn’t get down and we knew we needed points so it was great to see everyone across the board not give up and not give in and continue to go for it.”

On what the team has to do to carry the momentum into the game against FC Kansas City…
“I think we just have to continue playing the way that we are. Everyone is bringing their game right now. With the travel we’re going to be fatigued a little bit but there are no excuses at this point. It’s just one more game and we’re going to focus one game at a time. They’re a good team there. We match up well with them. We both have the same style of play. It’s just going to be who performs better on that day because I think we’re pretty equal.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Kaylyn Kyle 
On how the win helps in the playoff chance…
“I mean it’s huge for us. Anytime you can get three points at home and kind of get on that streak. We have three wins now in a row. It’s just really nice having everyone back playing and training and getting used to each other. Now that everyone is back from the World Cup, it’s been really nice and then obviously having a player like Lianne [Sanderson] come in has been really good. I think we’re just building on our wins and not really looking on the one tonight now we’re looking forward towards Kansas City because we really want to get that win to solidify getting into the playoffs.”

On how the climb up the standings helps the team maintain a strong mentality…
“I think we’ve always had that mentality. I think us coming into a match like Kansas City I think our mindset doesn’t shift. We want to make the playoffs and we want to bring a Championship back to Portland again.”

On what she had to do to be effective tonight…
“I think my job was pretty simple. Having the midfielders that I had tonight, they make my job simple. So for me it’s simple, I just have to win balls and spray it to them and let them work their magic. I mean, we have incredible players both on and off the field so for me it’s just playing simple, winning aerial battles, winning tackles and giving it to the players that have the magic feet, I like to say.”

On how her quick return to the lineup after the World Cup helped solidify her position on the team…
“I think for me, I came in and we were short a couple of midfielders with cards and with injuries. When Paul asked, he really needed a midfielder to come in so for me it was kind of a no-brainer. I wasn’t in a position like Sinc where she has played here for years and has her spot. I don’t think I’m guaranteed a spot on any night. I think I have to continue to work and work and continue to prove myself. I just take it game-by-game and whatever the coach and the team needs I’m willing to do it.”

Chicago Red Stars Quotes

Chicago Red Stars forward Christen Press
On playing in Portland at Providence Park in front of the fans…
“I think playing in Portland is the best game of the season every year. The crowd, the professionalism, the whole experience is just above and beyond. When you go out after the game everyone on the streets they know who you are and that’s something professionals generally experience but here, in our new league, we really just get it in Portland. So, it’s a special experience for us. It’s also has an effect on the game, like I said before. Girls aren’t used to playing in this type of environment and it takes a little getting used to before you can shake off the cobwebs and play to your full potential.”

On the response of fans coming to NWSL games after the World Cup win…
“There has definitely been a big boost in interest and excitement. The fans have been phenomenal in supporting us. It’s always great to see your team’s jersey at away venues or the National Team jerseys. We feel so much support and gratitude from the country and we try to give that back in any way we can. The important thing is to just coming out, keep supporting what we’re trying to grow, the game, where we’re trying to take this league and take the United States to the next level.”

On what it has been like integrating the World Cup players back into the lineup…
“I think it’s been hard. I don’t know how it’s been for every team but for our team it’s definitely taken a little while to get us reset and going. It’s sort of been like we’re in preseason again. The team did really well before we left, did really well while we were gone and now we kind of hit a rough patch. I think that’s just getting used to the players, getting that chemistry, trusting each other. Those are the things that make the Chicago Red Stars strive and have success and we’ve kind of lost our way a little bit with that. We have five games left in the season and I think we have to find our stride again and hit maximum capacity for us to have a chance at winning the title.”

On if the U.S. winning the 2016 Olympics in Rio could help solidify the NWSL for the long term…
“You like to think that. You like to think that just having success in soccer and having that excitement translates but to be honest it’s impossible to predict what will happen. I think that part of the reason when we put on the National Team jersey we feel so much pride is because we do care about the state of our game in our country. We hope that if people catch us playing in the Olympics and they like it, they will watch us play in our domestic leagues and see all the amazing players that don’t even play for their countries but are playing in these leagues. That’s the hope and that’s the goal but you can never predict it because they won the last Olympics and there was no league.”

On what this match does for the team going forward…
“This time last year we were matched up against Portland and we’re in the exact opposite position. Our team has done really well at the end of the last few seasons catching up at the end, where we have to move. I think that gives you something as a team. Now, we’re kind of on the other end of it where we’ve done really well, we’re in a really good spot. We have a lot of new players come in and we’re kind of working on that adjustment. We have a few games in-hand in terms of where we need to be to get into the playoffs but we need to kind of switch our momentum and take three points when we play teams like this, in this kind of environment because that’s what it takes to win in the end. These experiences are really good for us, I think, and they are learning opportunities for our squad and our rookies who have never played in an environment like this. But I think that the nerves were there. We were really shaky at start and if we come back, the goal is to be back here, and if we come back we can’t have a performance like that.”

Notes:

  • Defender Emily Menges made her 24th consecutive start, dating back to the 2014 season.
  • Midfielder Kaylyn Kyle appeared in her 50th career NWSL match.
  • Midfielder Allie Long made her 60th career appearance for Portland.
  • Forward Christine Sinclair became the third player in Thorns FC history to make 50 appearances for the club, joining midfielders Allie Long and Mana Shim.
  • Midfielder Lianne Sanderson made her Thorns FC debut in the match.
  • Midfielder Allie Long netted her third career brace and her second brace this season.
  • Long has scored a goal in three consecutive matches.
  • Long has now scored 21 career NWSL goals, which ranks tied for second all-time and just one behind Seattle Reign FC’s Kim Little (22).
  • Long joins forward Christine Sinclair as the only player other player for Portland who has registered three multi-goal games.
  • Sunday’s win snapped a streak of five consecutive ties between Portland and Chicago, dating back to the 2013 season.
  • Thorns FC are now 3-1-5 all-time against Chicago.
  • Portland has outscored its opponents at home 34-16 in its last 14 matches at Providence Park.
  • Thorns FC are 9-2-3 in their last 14 games at home, including a record of 5-2-2 in 2015.
  • Long has tallied a goal or an assist in 10 of Portland’s 16 games this season.
  • Portland improved to 15-0-3 all-time when Long scores in a match and 6-0-1 in 2015.
  • Long is one of just five players in the NWSL with 20 career goals along with Little, Jessica McDonald (Houston Dash), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City) and Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash).
  • Long tallied her 50th career point with her first goal of the match and currently has 52 career points.
  • Thorns FC are 22-2-5 all-time when scoring first in a match and 21-1-4 when scoring two or more goals in a game.
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