Rachel, Thorns vs. Spirit, 8.30.15
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 3, Washington Spirit 3 | Aug. 30, 2015

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley
On the game overall…
“[It was] more like a playoff game, really. The players even said just now, [Thorns FC midfielder] Sinead Farrelly, she comes to me, she goes ‘my god, it felt like a playoff game.’ You know, obviously, we turned two goals over at bad times in the first half. We were on top of the game. [We get a] corner kick, and we turn the corner kick over and [Washington Spirit forward] Crystal Dunn is Crystal Dunn. And then another part of the game, I thought we were playing well right before the halftime and we turned another goal over. So we gave two poor goals away and then you go into the second half. You know, the locker room was positive at halftime. I thought they were great going in. They really believed they could get back in the game and I think it was a great second half for us. I think it’s like the eighth time we’ve come back, but boy oh boy, we have to give the other team a head start every time. I thought the second half,[we had a good] the quality of play, we must have created a good 10 or 12 clear-cut chances and probably should have won the game in the end. It was a great performance. They dug in. It was good for Rachel [Van Hollebeke] and Nadine [Angerer] to get that last one. You can’t ask for more than that with that crowd behind us. But they were terrific tonight and hats off to them all. It was a good finale for Rachel and Nadine, a good send-off, and the crowd was absolutely fantastic tonight.”

On how Thorns FC defender Rachel Van Hollebeke and Thorns FC goalkeeper Nadine Angerer were in the locker room ahead of the last home match of their careers…
“[They were] a bit teary-eyed I think when they first went out. I gave Rachel a hug and you could just see she was a little bit [emotional]. [Her] having watched Cheney [FC Kansas City midfielder Lauren Holiday, formerly Cheney] the other day and A-Rod [FC Kansas City forward Amy Rodriguez], I think the occasion took it out of them in the game, but I don’t think it took it out of Rachel and Nadine tonight. I just said to Rachel during the week, ‘you’re going to be an emotional wreck right before kickoff and you’ve got to keep your head in and it’s going to be difficult.’ And she goes, ‘no, I’ll be alright, I’ll be alright.’ I think it was a more memorable night tonight. Obviously three points and a win and going to the playoffs would have been better for her, but she had an amazing career at the end of the day. Whether it’s a 3-3 result or an 8-0 win, I think it’s credit to her. She’s had an amazing career. Nadine’s done everything in the sport. So for her to come off with a crowd like that, I mean they were absolutely amazing. I can’t even tell you what it was like down on the field at the end, with the presentations and stuff like that. The fans absolutely love the players and that’s unbelievable. No matter what the results, they stick with you. 2-nil down, they were still singing and still pulling for the team. That’s all you can ask of a fan base. They were fantastic.”

On whether he went up into the crowd after the match like some of the players…
“No, that’s the players’ time, you know, with the fans. I think it’s just one of those moments I think as a player, because I remember being a player a long, long time ago, and it’s just those moments are amazing for you. You can see the joy in the fans’ faces. You can get closer to these players. And Alex [Morgan] and Tobin [Heath] and Allie [Long] and Mana [Shim] and them, you know, they had a good season. They worked their chops off for us, to be honest with you, all of them. The core group that’s been here the whole way, through preseason, through the process – I kept telling them, ‘the process, the process.’ We kept thinking that the process would go all the way for us and obviously it didn’t and integrating the players has been tough. I think you saw Jodie [Taylor] and Alex play for 22 minutes the entire season tonight and you wonder if they had played together for 20 games what would have happened. I thought they were terrific when we got them together. That was the hand we were dealt, and we went with the hand. Lianne [Sanderson] got better and better as her fitness level’s gone up, so I thought she had a good game tonight. Sinead [Farrelly], to me, she’s been the MVP for the team this year. Allie had a great season, and you know we got one more game for us, and it’s hard to get them back to the earth after that performance in that type of game and with the crowd like this, but we’ve got to go to Western New York and get three points and solidify fifth place. That’s a disappointing factor that we are playing for fifth, but pride is sometimes much more important than points.”

On how the team’s fans embraced the players who didn’t leave to play in the World Cup over the summer, and those players’ contributions to the team this year…
“I think they represent Portland. I think they like the underdog, they like the person who has maybe had the hard route. If you look at [Thorns FC goalkeeper] Michelle Betos, she’s had the hard route to get to the top. I mean for a goalkeeper coming into the season, we’d probably say she was No. 2 coming into the start of the season – I think they were both No. 1s as we got into the season – but for her to get the MVP of the season and player of the year, that says a lot about Michelle. I think Michelle is a personality, not just the saves. Maybe it was the diving header. Maybe that had something to do with it, too, but I think the fact that, you know, you’ve got two world-class goalkeepers. And you know, the McCalls [Zerboni] of the world, and the Manas [Shim] of the world and the Kat Williamson and Sinead [Farrelly], you know I could go through the group – Rachel’s [Van Hollebeke] been here since day one with us. The core group put a lot into it. I think the fans recognize that. They’re an intelligent fan base. We always say in England, Liverpool has the most intelligent fan base and I think they are educated fans [here]. They’re true fans. It’s a shame we couldn’t deliver what we wanted to deliver for them, unfortunately.”

Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan
On how it felt to score her first goal of the season…
“It felt really great to play 90 minutes and be able to get a goal and an assist on record and even get an own goal, I’m not sure [laughs] who’s that’s going to count against. But I’m glad we came back from being down 2-0. We went into the locker room at halftime and just regrouped a little and really just realized we needed to relax and play. Just have fun and play. I think we were over thinking it a little too much. So we went out with a little more of an attacking mindset and I think it worked. Obviously we gave up that third goal, which put us at a tie at the end, but I’m really proud of the way that we fought back.”

On whether the team felt like they needed to at least get a draw for Thorns FC defender Rachel Van Hollebeke and Thorns FC goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who were each playing in their last home matches as Thorns players…
“Yeah, going into the locker room 2-0 down was really hard because it is Nadine’s and Rachel’s last game [at home]. So it was important for us to get that win or just to get that comeback for them to feel good and feel like they could go in on top. We really wanted to get the win for them, and we just wanted to play together for them. I told myself that if I was going to score I was going to run over to Rachel, but obviously the Riveters distracted me a little and I went over there. I’m just so happy for Rachel and Nadine. They’ve had amazing careers and we’re really going to miss them on the field.”

On the atmosphere of the team’s last home match of the 2015 season and the players’ connection with the fans…
“Well, I think tonight was a little different than usual because there was really like no pressure. It was, ‘go out there and play,’ and like ‘do it for us, do it for the fans that have been here all season.’ Really when we went into the locker room at halftime, it was like, ‘it’s not that we’re even in contention for the playoffs so just go out there and attack and take risks because, you know, the worst we can do is lose like we are right now. And so as long as we take risks, as long as we prove to ourselves that we’re putting our best foot forward, that’s all we can do for our fans.’ I think we did that in the second half. I wanted to give the Riveters who come and chant every single game, I wanted to give them the roses that we got tonight for the goals. So we went up there and did that and everyone just followed and we ended up chanting with them for a couple minutes and it felt really good to be up there with them.”

On the dynamic between her and fellow forward Jodie Taylor at the end of the match…
“It felt really good to get up top with Jodie. I think it’s hard for me playing up top alone because I like to interchange positions with another forward so when Jodie came in I felt like I was able to just have a little bit more freedom and float to my left side, which is kind of where I tend to go a lot more. I feel like I always had a partner up there whereas sometimes in the first half I felt a little bit isolated, other than Lianne [Sanderson] coming and helping me out at times. It was really great to get in with Jodie. Hopefully we’ll get some more time in at Western New York. You know, it’s obviously not the season I wanted with all the injuries, but hopefully we get more time together in the future.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath 
On the experience tonight with the fans in the final regular-season home game…
“It was great. I think the crowd never disappoints here and they just went above and beyond. Obviously we’re disappointed not to be going to the playoffs but just to see the reaction the crowds to the crowd, we wanted to give them a good game, we wanted to give them a reason to smile and to celebrate and to enjoy themselves and I feel like we did, especially in the second half. We came out with a purpose and we wanted to do just that. Anytime we get to play at home it’s very special and tonight just really showed just how special this city and the fans truly are.”

On if she feels like the team is gelling now and what could have been…
“I think you always wonder at the end of the season what could have been if one thing happened a little bit differently but I think overall the season in general, things just didn’t really go our way. Not to put any excuses but I think for the players that we have and the opportunities that we had I think we can do better. That’s always hard at the end of the season to think that but going forward I think we have a good idea of where we are going. Next season I’m sure everyone just wants to start next season again and press the reset button and get back out on the field so in that way I think we’re encouraged and want to do right by the city.”

On her penalty kick goal…
“I knew I was going to score. I just was waiting for her to move and I just went the other way.”

On if the lack of pressure helped with the second-half attack…
“I think when we’re able to play with that freedom especially in the attack you see really good things from the team. I think when we play tight, we’re not able to play the way we want to and I think sometimes we just played a little tight this season and we weren’t able to relax and play the way that we’re capable of playing. I think Western New York will be the same. We will just try and have some fun and get a result.”

On the retirement of teammates Rachel Van Hollebeke and Nadine Angerer…
“I feel like I was trying to keep it together especially Rachel and I, we have played for a really long time and I’m so proud of her. Nadine I’ve gotten to know really well and they’re just two world class players and world class people. It’s a pleasure to share a locker room with them and we’re going to miss them a lot. It’s hard. They’re awesome.”

Portland Thorns FC defender Rachel Van Hollebeke

On how she played knowing it was her last game…
“I tried to play like I’ve played all my games, just savor each moment a little bit more. Before the game I just told the team let’s have fun today. That’s what it’s about. Let’s just play for each other and have fun and I think we did that. We fought back from being down two goals and we just kept fighting. It was an exciting fun game and I loved it and I savored every minute of it.”

On the emotions of the night…
“I’ve teared up a few times. I’m trying to keep it together but a little bit, for sure. I’ve been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster since announcing I’m retiring. I’m going to miss it a lot and I love this game and I will always love it. I’ve had so many special memories and amazing friendships and obviously playing in front of this crowd and being part of this whole experience is very special. I feel very fortunate.”

On going up and joining the fans after the match…
“That was really cool. You feel their energy the entire game but just to be up there with them and be in it and shake their hands and give them hugs was really cool. We feel such a part of that community. That’s what is so cool about us and the fans that we are so close and feel a part of that. To go up there with them on my last game was really special.”

On what was going through her mind on her assist…
“Obviously going down 2-0 is not great but we had some good energy that whole first half. We were doing things and having some chances and I felt like we were going to come back. To get an assist that was so awesome. I feel like that’s a ball I love to hit if I’m playing in the outside back and I just felt like it was cool to be able to have that in my last game. I wanted a goal, I almost had a shot and I would have lost [if I had scored] but I lost it anyway on that one. It was really cool.”

On her thoughts and hopes for the team and NWSL going forward…
“I think sustainability for the league and continuing to push the professionalism of the league as a whole. For the Thorns, we have such an amazing organization and we’re so lucky to play here, but I think just continuing to push and lead the league in that.”

Notes:                                                                                               

  • Thorns FC played in front of their second sellout crowd of the 2015 season (21,144), bringing their average attendance to 15,639 for the season.
  • Midfielder Lianne Sanderson made her first career start for Thorns FC.
  • Sanderson tallied her first career point and assist for Thorns FC.
  • Defender Rachel Van Hollebeke started and played in her final game for Portland after announcing her retirement earlier this week, making her 45th career appearance.
  • Midfielder McCall Zerboni started her 60th career NWSL match.
  • Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer started and played in her final match at Providence Park after announcing her retirement earlier this season.
  • Forward Alex Morgan tallied her first goal of the season and the 15th of her Thorns FC career.
  • Midfielder Tobin Heath scored her first goal in a regular-season match for Portland. The goal was her first of the 2015 season and her first penalty-kick goal for Thorns FC.
  • Morgan moved into a tie for first-place all-time in career assists (10), tied with midfielder Allie Long.
  • Morgan is one of two Thorns FC players to have registered double-digit goals (15) and assists (10) for her career, joining Long as the only other player to accomplish this feat.
  • Portland improved to 4-1-3 all-time against Washington and remains unbeaten (2-0-2) in four home meetings against the Spirit.
  • Thorns FC recorded a season-high 23 shots in the match also the second most all-time in a single game for the club.
  • Portland improved to 5-2-3 on the season at home and is 9-2-4 in its last 15 home matches, dating back to 2014.
  • Morgan tallied her sixth goal in five career games against Washington.
  • With a goal and an assist, Morgan moved into second place all-time in career points for the club (40).
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