Mark Parsons, Thorns vs. Flash, 10.2.16
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 3, Western New York Flash 4 (a.e.t.) | Oct. 2, 2016

Quotes

Portland Thorn FC head coach Mark Parsons
On how the team is feeling…
“I haven’t been in a situation other than the 2014 semifinal. I felt like that was a semifinal when our team was a stronger team and you get something taken away from you. Tonight I thought both teams were very good. Credit to Western New York they brought their absolute best tonight in a very emotional, fast and exciting game. They deserved to be in this playoff, they deserve to be moving on because when you are at your very best I think you put yourself in the place to win a game. I thought we started very strong and it was a crazy game, some crazy things went on. It felt like we were always chasing it. I know the reaction was good, and it has been all year, the reaction was good it just seemed to be one goal too far away for us to chase and get back into the game tonight. But it can’t take away from what both teams did tonight. This was an exciting game, I’m sure many people enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it. It was very…I had about four heart attacks and lost more hair throughout those 120 minutes. But I think this is going to set us up to go and kill it over the next four or five months in supporting these amazing players and wonderful people the best way we can and come back stronger.”

On what it was about Western New York’s style that gave the Thorns trouble…
“There tactical setup is that they press from the front and they have a lot energy and they are very direct. We had about 70-80 long balls from them into our penalty box last game we wanted to drop that down about 30-40 just deal with less. I thought we did that. They are fast, they are hungry and they are super direct. Sometimes you get organized and you can deal with that and there’s other times even good organization and great individual ability from our players happen and they still get half a chance. That’s what happens when you put the ball in the box. It’s tough to deal with and when you concede the goals you did tonight it shows how dangerous they can be. I think we are a team that is different but can also be dangerous in putting the ball in good areas to score goals. I said it before I was excited to be in this game as coach and I felt we were going to do what we needed to do to move on. If I wasn’t a coach of this game I couldn’t wait to watch it and you guys all watched it as neutrals. I think it had the making of game of the season and it didn’t disappoint in that sense. For us we held off with different phases and we probably didn’t hurt them when we could have of and that’s the only thing we can say because the group is very committed, very hard working and I don’t think there was a single player that had an ounce of energy left and just missed the opportunity to take it. They took their chances and took them really well. We just missed a couple that we don’t normally miss, even some of our set pieces, but things like this happen and it’s opportunity for us to bounce back and get stronger.”

On how he uses this as motivation for next season…
“We haven’t even thought about apart from winning this and moving to the championship game we haven’t thought about much else. In previous years I haven’t often done that. Every ounce of detail and time has gone into making sure we were prepared to win this game. I think when it sinks in we have to continue what we’ve done. We are attacking each day with everything we’ve got to make sure we support these players and continue to support this club to move forward. So that’s where we will start. That will start in probably about three or four hours once I get home and have a cup of tea and start watching the game back. How can we keep improving these players to be better and what can we do as staff to continue to move forward. We have a long five months to take care of that. Throughout out this year I thought we killed it last offseason. I think we did an incredible job at the beginning of the season, throughout the middle we weathered the storm and the end we really came together as a team. We’ve tried to attack our best every day, every week and that starts in three or four hours in being our best in this next phase of what is a very special group at a very special club.”

On how he feels about the accomplishments of the team this season…
“Quick review of the season. I think we’ve shown and proven what a team is. Least conceded goals. One of the most attacking, high-goal scoring teams in the league. We score goals on set pieces. We score goals from great soccer. We score goals from multiple passes. We score goals from countering. From being direct and we have been very, very hard to breakdown and very hard to beat with our mindset, with our fight. I think the group has set the standard of what a team looks like and there are a lot players here, the whole roster, who have played a major role in making sure we move forward every day and that is what good teams do. Good teams move forward. It’s been a great season. If I could have dreamt about what a great season looked like I probably wouldn’t have dreamt it looked this good. It’s been fantastic. Now we go again to make this even better.”

On if other teams have been as willing to go toe-to-toe and be that direct at Providence Park…
“I think a lot of teams have come here and given us an incredible game. No one has been that direct. No one has put as many free kicks and throw-ins and balls from center backs into our 18-yard box. That’s been very successful for them and it has taken them to a championship game. You have to give them credit. I think they were at their best tonight and they played to their strengths. I think those players, just like ours, have done a super job. They have some good young players there that have amazing futures ahead. They have done a super job this year and it has got them to the final against Washington. It’s two very exciting teams and let’s hope it has half the entertainment of tonight’s game.”

Portland Thorns forward Christine Sinclair
On what the team said to each other after the final whistle…
“Obviously it’s a tough result and we’re all pretty disappointed right now. Just trying to rally everyone and support our fans, support our organization. When you look at it, it’s been an incredible year, incredible support. Mark [Parsons] just mentioned that sort of bottle this up and remember this feeling for preparation for next year. He’s going to give it all so that we come out flying next season and try and go a game further next year.”

On her perspective of the disappointment of this loss against the team’s progress this season…
“I think everyone has experienced the highs and lows of this sport. There’s no shame in feeling disappointed and upset, and feeling that we left something out on the table today that we think, with the talent we have on this team, we should be winning this league. But you know, you bottle up this emotion and you get ready for next year. It’s a weird game like that, but there’s no shame in feeling sad and bad and all those things. We’ll do this with grace. It’s what this organization represents.”

On what Western New York did to hold a lead for most of the match…
“Throw the ball far. I think we gave up three goals off throw-ins. It’s a huge weapon for them. We faced it before, just weren’t able to deal with that today. We talked about it before the game. It’s almost better for them to have the ball at their feet than for us to kick the ball out for a throw-in. We didn’t learn from it. We just kept giving them those opportunities and they made us pay.”

On hosting the club’s first-ever home playoff match…
“The fans are incredible. The entire season they’ve been amazing. Even when you had seven or eight players leave for the Olympics, you saw the number of fans that were at our home games when we were all gone and it’s just incredible. For me personally, that’s the hardest part about the result tonight. They deserve better. They deserve a championship game. You want to do it for them and you want to do it for the organization because the fans are the best in league. This organization is the best in the league and you want to give them the trophies they deserve.”

On how tonight’s loss feels compared to the loss in Kansas City in 2014…
“I think this one hurts a little bit more. With Kansas City, we clawed our way into the playoffs and to be fair, all season that year we didn’t really play that well, but managed to get in the playoffs. I think heading into that game against Kansas City, we were never expected to win it. Whereas tonight we win the league, I think on paper we have the most talented team, I think we should win every game. And you’re playing at home, so yeah, this one hurts a little bit more.”

On what happened on her goal…
“I got mad and just told our players to kick the ball up the field. I definitely got a little bump on their centerback and I was mad so I just shot it and it went in.”

On the key factors that contributed to the team’s success this year…
“I think a lot of credit has to go to the organization for hiring Mark Parsons. He was a huge difference for us this year. We have a different locker room. He brought in some world-class players obviously, but we just had a different mentality. I think the previous two years, had we gone down 2-0 it would have been game over. We probably would have lost 6-0. But this team has fight and spirit. We claw back, but dug ourselves too big a hole in extra time. I think a lot of credit has go to Gavin [Wilkinson] and Merritt [Paulson] for getting Mark onboard.”

On how to process the playoff scenario of winner takes all in one game…
“It’s tough. Everywhere else in the world with soccer, if you win the league, you win the league. Whereas I think it’s unique in North America where playoffs are the big thing. It makes it interesting. Soccer’s a funny game. Anybody can beat anyone on any given day and I think you saw that today. We beat Western New York twice during the season and then they come into our house and beat us. It’s the nature of the sport but I’ve been on the other end as well.”

On what she’ll say to the less veteran players following this loss…
“Embrace how you’re feeling. Bottle it up for next year. For all the highs that this game gives you, it gives you lows and you learn more from how you feel today than had we won. Just give yourself some time. It’s going to sting for a while, but think of training in the offseason. Let this motivate you.”

Portland Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan
On what the team said together after the match…
“Honestly it’s kind of hard to say anything right now. It’s a tough loss and you know, we were together the whole time. We were fighting for that win no matter what. That’s what’s important. We had some unfortunate goals and at the end, we were just like ‘We have to thank our fans.’ They’re out there supporting us the whole way and even after the loss, they’re out there cheering. That was the main thing that we spoke about at the end. Come together and stay strong. Look forward to next year and come back stronger.”

On describing the goal she scored…
“No, I can’t. I think the ball got played in and it was mixed up in the box. I remember just trying to find it and get it in the back of the net. At that point we were just searching for another goal after.”

On what Western New York did that gave them the lead through most of the game…
“Western New York’s tactics, the way they found the ball into the box. That was their game plan the whole day and it worked for them. We made some errors, which was really unfortunate. They did well at what they did. That’s all we can really say.”

On balancing the disappointment of the loss with the progress the team made this season…
“It’s hard to say right now just because it’s sinking in and it’s so tough right now. This team, it’s crazy, we came together. We have so many different players coming from all over the place and at the end of the year, end of the season, we started playing our best soccer. That’s what’s really cool. Every game we were a goal down, we came back. We kept fighting no matter what. Our team has just always been like that and I think that’s something really cool to take away. Next year we’re going to come back stronger and fighting for that championship.”

On what the Thorns need to do to come back stronger…
“Just continuing what we do best and playing the best soccer we can. Having that attitude every single day that we need to progress now and keep getting better. Not let what happened in this game happen again. Obviously there were some errors that we made where they scored those goals. We can go look at the tape now and we can say ‘We should have done this. We should have done that.’ We have to look at that and get better.”

On the Thorns game plan to counter Western New York’s athleticism…
“They have incredible forwards with incredible physicality. They’re athletic and fast and strong. They launch the ball in the box and you don’t know what’s going to happen and they chase balls down. It works for them and they obviously made things happen. Our game plan was really to stop that by any means necessary and we let it happen too many times. That’s unfortunate looking back at it now.”

On if any other disappointment in her career matches tonight’s loss…
“Coming off the losing the Olympics is pretty tough, but right now it’s just about this team and Portland. More just thinking about that right now.”

Notes

  • Thorns FC set a new NWSL playoff record with 20,086 fans. The previous record was 13,264, set in the 2015 NWSL Championship game held at Providence Park between FC Kansas City and Seattle Reign FC.
  • The 20,086 fans was the fourth-largest crowd for a Thorns FC match in club history, and it marked the seventh time Portland has drawn a crowd of more than 18,000 for a game.
  • Forward Christine Sinclair scored her second career postseason goal in the NWSL.
  • Defender Emily Sonnet and midfielder Lindsey Horan scored their first career postseason goals.
  • Goalkeeper Michelle Betos tied a season-high with her six saves tonight.
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