Christine Sinclair, Thorns vs. Chicago, 8.25.19
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 3, Chicago Red Stars 0 | Aug. 25, 2019

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons
General thoughts on tonight’s match...
"Lethal going forward. Both quality, numbers. I think devastating when we were on the attack on the charge. Loved what we did on the first half, one thing is to be creating chances, but to be finishing them. Defensively, I  thought we were good in the first half, but we gave them some half looks. Washington were pretty good, pretty quiet and then we have to grow and improve in the second half as they made changes and wanted to grow and then Washington just got a bit stretched there for a bit. We got it back at the end of the game against Washington. That second-half defensive performance was one of our best in eliminating key players, eliminating momentum, eliminating space and when they did put the ball inside our 18-yard box I thought we were just outstanding in set pieces, defensive set pieces, so I loved what we did going forward and defensively that second half was right up there with some of their best work was right on cue, because it is something we’ve been wanting to improve and everyone wants a clean sheet. It takes all of us and I think the work the midfield and frontline did was crucial. Backline was tremendous. AD [Adrianna Franch] just continues to prove what she’s all about, all of the backline and then [Emily] Menges probably the best individual performance I’ve seen maybe since the [2017] Championship and I thought she was outstanding today.”

On Midge Purce’s transition to playing on top…
“Outstanding performance in front of goal and she had a massive impact in the game even without the goals, she had a big impact. Spending time in the Washington D.C. area, I knew all about Midge growing up and the high school that she was playing at and the coaches that were working with her. I was able to watch her at Harvard, was a bit disappointed not to get her in the draft and then we spent all year trying to get her here at the dispersal draft we got her. Last year a couple of injuries tried to slow her down midway through, but she was flying, beginning of this year tried to slow her down. She’s healthy, she’s fit, she’s really owned her own development, she’s really grabbed her development and is driving forward and trying to improve each game and I think she’s reaping the rewards. Two early goals from her but the performance around those was important.”

On the team’s defensive performance…
“It was pure subjective when I talked about our defense, not necessarily statistic wise. That kind of confirmed what it felt like. We had this lesson last week with Washington. We’re two-nil up, and wanting to do things to make sure that we stay compact and stay tight defensively while we’re trying to get more goals and it took us 20 minutes to figure it out last week and it felt we did it immediately. We had a wild three-four minutes in the first half. I just think that more time, more training around each other, continue to get back to Thorns principles and then also games like this. And we can talk player quality or tactics, but this is a big game and every game it’s been big for a few weeks and every game going forward is big. This is a big game with two fantastic teams and the mentality is huge in these games and I think when it gets to this stage in the season you look around in the changing room and say let’s drive on now.  We’ve been enjoying people’s company, we’ve been working hard, but it’s time to be Thorns and at times we’ve got to really drive on. The group’s got the look in their eye and we see it at this stage in the season here. It’s not really clean-smooth sailing as it goes for the next couple of weeks, it’s going to be some speed bumps but I think we got the mentality right now to deal with that and continue to try to move forward.”

On slowing down Sam Kerr…
“Kerr is absolutely world class. World class as a player and world class as a person. There’s so many different elements in her game. She stretches the field and caused us problems in the first half, but we ended up trying to defend her individually or with a couple of players. It has to be a team effort when you’re dealing with special players. As a team, you have to deal with that. She’s world class and I’ve got a lot of respect for her. Not in just her ability, but her mentality with how she plays with joy and full of heart. It’s not fun playing against her.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Midge Purce
On the team’s performance...
“I think on the ball, I think Lindsey [Horan] was huge on the ball in midfield. I feel like she really helped us connect. Keeping it up on the left side was really important, I think our combination play allowed us to kind of stretch them and find some spaces that weren't available.”

On the team’s chemistry... 
“In a way I think that we’re becoming more familiar with each other and building relationships on the field. Kind of understanding our tendencies and what each other does. I definitely think we’re starting to become more cohesive.”

On her performance...
“Mark [Parsons] actually had a conversation with me yesterday about being in the right place at the right time. He was talking to me about not going towards the ball, but going towards the space. He was just saying that I need to make sure I’m not ball watching and doing things like that. He was literally showing me spaces that I need to go to. So both, you know I got tap-ins and I got lucky and I was in the right place at the right time. But also, I think it was a big coaching point and I think that he [Mark] helped me see the game in a different way in terms of being in the box.”  

On adapting to the number nine role...
“Playing in the nine has definitely been a new experience. In youth and in college I’ve never really played in the nine, I’ve been a winger. Tobin [Heath], Sinc [Christine Sinclair] and Lindsey [Horan] and Mark, they’ve actually been saying a lot of things to me and flooding me with a ton of information about tactics and just spatial awareness and pockets that I need to be in. So that’s been a huge change.”

On defeating a tough opponent like Chicago…
“Oh, it’s huge, it’s needed. We knew coming into this game, we needed to get these points and that is super important, especially against Chicago. They are always a playoff contender, so it’s really important.”

Notes:

  • Portland is unbeaten in its last six home matches, posting a record of 5-0-1.
  • Thorns FC have scored two or more goals five times in their last six matches.
  • With the win, Portland has recorded 10 or more wins in each of its last four seasons.
  • Thorns FC recorded their sixth shutout of the season, which is tied for third-most in the NWSL.
  • Portland is unbeaten in its last 17 games against Chicago (8-0-9).
  • Thorns FC are 10-1-9 all-time against the Red Stars, including a mark of 6-1-3 at Providence Park.
  • Midge Purce recorded her second brace of her NWSL career in the match. Her first brace also came against Chicago in a 3-0 win at Providence Park on June 2, 2019.
  • In three matches this season against Chicago, Purce has tallied four goals.
  • Purce has eight goals this season, which is tied for third-most in the NWSL.
  • Purce is the eighth player in Thorns FC history to record multiple multi-goal games for the club.
  • Christine Sinclair has tallied five goals in her last six home matches.
  • Sinclair has scored nine goals this season, which is second-most in the NWSL.
  • Against the Red Stars, Sinclair has 14 goals in 18 career matches, including four goals in three games this season.
  • Tobin Heath tallied her third assist of the season in the match.
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