Emily Sonnett, Thorns vs Spirit, 04.20.18
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 1, Washington Spirit 1 | Apr. 20, 2018

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons

General thoughts on the match…
“We struggled in the first half. I think we made it a little more complicated than we needed to do. I thought we faced Washington at the wrong time. Obviously they wanted to improve a lot from last week. I thought defensively they were very good. All of them, but especially Estelle Johnson. We caught them on a bad night because I thought they were good in the first half. Disappointing to concede the goal. I thought there was a bit of chaos there. Britt [Eckerstrom] was outstanding in the game. It’s been a wild 24 hours for us in the last minute changes. Britt came in and was really good. A few times preseason I said ‘[Adrianna Franch] is going to be ready and crushing it, but you’ll get your opportunity.’ She’s always ready. Always, always ready. Last year there wasn’t a moment I would look at her on the bench, or look at her before or after the game, and say she’s not ready to go. Thought she had a great performance. Mal [Mallory] Weber jumping in at left wingback. I thought she did really, really well. Dealing with that front three was really tough. She had Taylor Smith, Mal [Mallory] Pugh, or [Francisca] Ordega coming at times. They doubled up on the weak side and I thought she did well. So it made it a little bit harder the first half. Then the second half I thought we were back to ourselves and it was just keeping it simple. Doing the simple things well. We created some good opportunities there and didn’t manage to take them. I think that’s going to light a fire under us. If we had won tonight, first four games would have been an outstanding start. Now it just feels like a good start and probably lights a fire that we’ve got to make up for these points we left out there tonight. Challenging 24 hours. Thought the team faced adversity in the first half well. Came out, reacted really well. Now rest, recover, and get ready to go to Utah.”

On Tobin Heath’s return and performance…
“It’s just great to have Tobin Heath back. It’s been a wild, wild period. She’s worked incredibly hard to get back and we’re just so happy that she’s back where she belongs on a soccer pitch having fun. We wanted her in position where she could drift out to the left side. She could get her isolated moments and then drift inside. She was just having fun and it took her a while to pick up some of the positions. It was great to see her out there. She was good on the ball and her link up with Ana [Cernogorcevic], [Christine Sinclair], [Lindsey Horan], and [Celeste Boureille] was really, really good. Excited to get her fitter and get her more minutes away at Utah.”

On the importance of getting the equalizing goal just before halftime…
“It was big to get the goal just before halftime. We’d done well now, two games at home on scoring important goals before halftime, especially when the opposition comes here, I’ve done it myself, it’s easy to have good first halves in this stadium for oppositions. When I visited here, I couldn’t work out how to have a good second half. It’s tough. To pin one back before halftime set us up really well for the second half. I thought the second half reaction was really good. The players dealt with some craziness in the last 24 hours well. We dealt with a really good Washington team. I thought they scored, despite them having a bit more of the ball and us failing to create many opportunities, we felt safe we could get to halftime and remind them of some of the basic. They obviously snuck one in. Great reaction to get the goal. Really, really happy with how the group fixed things in the second half and showed a positive turnaround in what’s been a strange couple days.”

On creating chances…
“We had three or four really good opportunities there in the second half. We’re way ahead of last year creating chances. Way ahead on creating big chances that Opta has a definition for. Way ahead on Thorns quality chances that we look at. It’s a shame we couldn’t say a fantastic first four games. It’s now just a good first four and we get Ellie [Carpenter] and [Hayley] Raso in tomorrow night. Andressinha in on Tuesday and a good week of training with a lot more people. Should be exciting, but those guys have to be a bit patient right now because what this group has done while we’ve been waiting has been incredible. Performances are showing that. Nine points after tonight would have looked really fair to what the players have put in. We’ll make up for it and recharge and get ready for Utah.”

On conceding a goal from a set-piece…
“Just realized it was a set piece and it will frustrate us staff even more. I think we conceded one last year in the home playoff. I thought we saw the best of their front three: Pugh, Ordega, and [Ashley] Hatch. They were trying to make it 3v3 as much as possible. It was tough, but Kelli Hubly, like other defenders have done for this team, I think she’s really stepped in, but they’re all very good, especially in the second half. When we got momentum, we kept momentum because they would disrupt their counters and not let them get after us. Kelli Hubly comes in to grow and improve. She was an undrafted player. Celeste Boureille was really good again tonight. She was an undrafted player. Players come here and they really put their head down. They grow and they want to learn. It took all of them tonight to keep their really lively front three, and fullbacks that wanted to push on, quiet. So I thought we weathered those storms well and then the set piece. When we got back to normal stuff second half I thought the back three continued to do well to not let them back in the game.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath

On how she felt on her return…
“Fine. Obviously the result we would have wanted to be better, but just for me personally it was great to get back out on the pitch and get that over with.”

On if she felt rusty at all…
“No, not really. Obviously would have been nice to get a goal, but I think kind of a lot changed in the second half, which was good. We should have had a stronger start, especially at home. So I think that was a little bit disappointing, but overall we’ll move on from it and we’ll take the point.”

On the last 15-20 minutes of the match…
“We had opportunities obviously. Just clean that up and finish. There’s not much to say. We started creating, but obviously something has to land in the back of the net. Next time we’ll get it.”

On if she has a sense of relief to be back on the field…
“Absolutely. I’m very happy to be playing and just want to continue. Continue to help the team and continue to grow along with this group. We’re getting a number of players back in as well. There’s going to be a number of changes, so I think the football is going to start looking a little bit different.”

On dealing with players coming in and out of the team…
“I think Mark [Parsons] does a great job because we have a clear understanding of how we want to play, so it doesn’t really matter the personnel. Everybody knows what is required of them. I think we do a great job defining roles and finding the way we want to play. Obviously getting more and more personnel into the mix is only going to help us. It’s going to help us compete internally and therefore help us compete externally as well.”

Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom
On making her debut tonight

“It was super fun and I thought we brought a ton of energy today. It’s kind of unfortunate we ended up tying. I felt like we were really on the front foot, especially in the second half. That energy is so contagious so I was having a blast back there. It sucks that we gave up a goal. I felt we could have put a couple more away, but that was super fun. It was fun to be out there.”

On staying prepared ahead of tonight’s start…
“I train no differently if I was playing or not playing. As the backup, you never know when you’re going to be called in. Every game I’m not playing, I’m prepared to go in, and so my routine is no different on the games that I do end up going in.”

On talking to the backline in practice as opposed to playing in front of a full stadium…
“My voice is a little raspier today from having to shout more at them, but I get to train with them and I’ve got that relationship already built up with those girls to be communicate well – and they know what they’re doing too so I don’t have to say all that much.”

On her assertiveness and confidence in goal…
“I think that’s just part of the role of being a goalkeeper. When I step in, I have to make sure that I’m bringing that to the table and have my teammates feel confident in my abilities to give them that sense of security. I’m also responsible for seeing the field and letting them know of any information that they’re not getting. That’s just my job. I’m just doing it.”

On playing her first match at Providence Park…
“That was incredible. That was something I’ve never felt before. That was super fun. I’ve never experienced that to that degree before, so I’m really thankful for my opportunity and I’m pumped about it.”

Notes:

  • Goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom made her Thorns FC debut in the match. It marked Eckerstrom’s third career NWSL start. As a rookie in 2016, Eckerstrom started two matches for the Western New York Flash.
  • Sinclair tallied her fourth goal in the team’s fourth match of the season. With the goal, Sinclair has now tallied at least four goals in six consecutive seasons.
  • With the goal, Sinclair has 35 career NWSL goals, which is tied with Christen Press for third all-time in NWSL history.
  • Midfielder Tobin Heath made her season debut, logging 30 minutes in the match. Heath along with Sinclair have appeared in at least one match in all six seasons with the club.
  • Portland has scored in 20 consecutive regular-season home matches at Providence Park.
  • Thorns FC improved to 7-2-5 all-time against the Spirit, including a mark of 5-0-3 at home.
  • Portland remains unbeaten during the month of April at Providence Park, posting a record of 7-0-1.
  • Thorns FC did not concede a shot on goal in the second half for a second consecutive match.
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