Hayley Raso, Thorns vs Dash, 09.21.19
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 1, Houston Dash 0 | Sept. 21, 2019

NWSL POST-GAME QUOTES
Portland Thorns FC vs. Houston Dash
Sept. 21, 2019 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Final: Portland Thorns FC 1, Houston Dash 0

 

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons
On if he felt a sense of relief when Tobin Heath scored the opening goal...
“First thought was great quick thinking from the restart and great calm finish. Great ball from [Lindsey Horan] and great calm finish. After that, relief. Credit to Houston. I thought they withheld a lot of chaos in the first half. The way we came out was the way we wanted to. Credit to our players for coming out on the front foot and keeping the game in their half, not letting Houston breathe. Creating a lot of half looks. We were a little bit anxious tonight, a little bit urgent tonight, a little bit desperate to get that early goal and build off the early goal. But the way we got on the front foot was outstanding. Houston to be able to get in [to halftime] without conceding, was credit to the players and their staff and even in the second half they started to stretch us and cause us problems and we hadn’t gotten that second goal and the game was still live. So I’m really proud of our players tonight. It’s been a long build up to this game and the way that they’ve trained, the intensity that they’ve trained with has been really superb and we’ve managed to bring that in tonight and now we can build off this one. We recover, we reflect, we can build and look to improve our quality and look to improve our strengths and how we could play a little bit better while taking care of the most important thing which was fight and work like Thorns. I thought we did that tonight.”

On what he said to the team at halftime…
“Well done. Another half like that because there were so many good things. But also one thing that did surprise me and it shouldn’t have was our mentality was outstanding. We were so focused on showing that and showing the character we have and playing with a heart and spirit that this team and this club and these fans are all about. What surprised me was of course that’s going to lead to being a bit too urgent. And I thought we were. We just missed a little tiny percent there in the first half because what you’re so used to seeing when we come out of the gates like that is early goals and quick goals. I think we’re up there still or we could be still up there with first half goals. Halftime was well done. ‘Guys well done.’ Don’t get desperate. Stay focused, keep doing the right things. These spaces are there, these spaces aren’t there.’ Then managing Houston on the break. We said at halftime the most dangerous thing they could do is start smashing them long in behind us, which they did. Started to cause us a bit of a problem. We managed to slow it down and get the game back into our type of game. Unfortunate not to get a second goal.”

On if there was a sense of frustration in the team at halftime…
“No. No, I think there was a lot of positive energy. Lot of positive vibes. Honestly. It was one of those were if I didn’t say anything, we could have come out and been really effective so it was hard just to say two or three things because we’re doing all the right things and they know that. The players know. The players know when things are right and when things aren’t right. We just needed to stay calm, stay focused, but continue the work ethic. Our work ethic, led by Midge [Purce] up front, to be playing on the front foot, working, breaking behind, pressing, counter-pressing. Probably the best we’ve been, maybe the last time we played Houston, but the best we’ve been in counter pressing and winning the ball back high up the field.”

On the team’s schedule leading into this game and into the end of the regular season…
“This will be a little bit more of a normal week. Yes, our build up will be one day longer than normal. But we’ll be able to recover, be able to have a day off, be able to reflect, learn and aim to grow from this while then prepare for Seattle. Seattle now plays midweek. So we have to be prepared for what our strengths are and make sure we’re playing to them in regards to strategy, tactics or individual players, playing to the strengths that suit our mentality right now and the aggression we played with tonight. Set up and then obviously we have to review Seattle once they’ve played midweek. I forget who they played tonight, but have a look at those two games and their last game and be respectful of what they are. Which is a really organized, well-coached team. Very hard working team with great individual talent that can hurt anyone.”

On dealing with Houston’s counter-attack and staying focused while enjoying so much possession…
“I thought we handled counter-attacking in the first half extremely well. I thought in the first moment in the final third our counter-pressing to win it back and if they broke that, our second wave was really good and there’s a couple times where the backline had to deny. We talked about space that we needed to be in as we finished our attack to help support that. The second half Houston was smart. I think they won possession and tried to spin us, turn us around immediately. Our solution was to be able to make sure there weren’t isolations when that happened. There were a lot times were [Emily] Menges was chasing [Rachel] Daly or [Emily] Sonnett was chasing Daly. We wanted support in and around the ball. Trying to stay compact was hard in the second half because of Houston being smart and trying to turn us around quickly in transition.

On if he feels the Thorns are approaching their best to close out the season…

“No, I think the result last week, the performance last week made these three games a little mini season. We’ve got three games. One game at a time to be able to bring a home playoff to our club. We’ve got three games, two now, to be able to build back up. No, I think we’re on a journey for these last two games. We’ll be on a journey this week before Seattle and then we’ll be on a journey to try and get a performance and result in a semi and grow from that. I don’t think it will stop. No, we’re not near our best. The performance last week made these last three games a little mini season here at the end for us to be able to rev up.”

On controlling their own destiny to clinch a home playoff game…
“It means that we reflect, recover, learn from tonight and then we focus on a really good training week this week. I thought our response this week was outstanding that followed us into the game that led to a great performance. So here we go again. But we’ve got to move forward. We’ve got to be better. Tonight was a very important performance, great win, but now we can grow and get better and we can control. We can control tomorrow and then the day after. One day at a time, one game at a time. Time to be true Thorns and show our true colors.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath

On scoring a goal...
“The team came out with a lot of fire and character and a good kind of response, so that was really positive and then just knocking and not quite getting the final piece, the final quality. So, obviously getting that goal was huge especially at this part of the season, we really needed that. Getting a couple of great defensive plays as well against a quality team that’s really made it hard for a lot of people all season, so for us to come and get the job done it was good for us.”   

On rebounding from last week’s loss and setting up a potential home playoff berth... 
“That’s where we'd like to be. This part of the season is always like this. These last couple of games always matter so much which is great. It’s a testament to the league and the competitiveness of the league. We have two really big games to focus on in Tacoma coming up. We haven’t had good results against them this season in a difficult place to play. So we’ll try to make that right and obviously every game matters a lot for us right now because we know where we want to finish and what we want to give ourselves a good chance at it, so getting that home playoff game is important.”

On Houston’s defense...
“They did well, I would say. They definitely put in a great effort, a great shift. I’d say our quality wasn’t there, mine personally wasn’t there, so I think it was a combination of both. But, as I said, they’re [Houston] like that never give up kind-of-team, so credit to them and for us we just need to continue to refine some things and get better. We wanted to put some more pressure on and get the ball on frame, because we spent a lot of time in their half of the field. We need to punish teams and put them away because the game was a little bit uncomfortable because of it.”

On keeping sharp both mentally and physically after a hectic schedule… 
“If you have a good answer for me, I’d love to have it. It’s really, really tough that's all I can say. Every single day I kind of have to set my attention to really fill back up because it’s asking a lot of the players. We really want to do something special here this year so it’s kind of reframing and refocusing on the goals and objectives here and really giving it all you have. We have a couple weeks of this left and I think we all just want to finish the season giving everything we have for the club.”

On her move to score the goal
“That was the quality we were talking about. We talked about [Houston] dropping hard on crosses and that the cutback was open. Lindsey [Horan] actually wanted the cutback from me, but it was vice versa, so it was a nice little changeup there. It was a perfect pass and great for me to be able to finish it.”

On what the team needs to do to be at their best for the end of the season
“Training is critical for us. We played last Wednesday, so I had my first days off since I got back from the World Cup. These last couple of days were fantastic. So that was awesome for me, personally. Then just getting a full week of training with the team. To be honest, that game was like such a blessing because it really refreshed everyone and lit a fire under everyone. Just even in training. Training has been super competitive and I think everybody has just woken up to a new part of the season and wanting to be kind of a different team and put on different performances. The Thorns of 2019…people are going to see the remainder of the season is going to be a completely different team than they’ve seen before.”

Notes:

  • Thorns FC increased their season total to 40 goals, which is tied for the most goals in a single season in club history.
  • Portland recorded its seventh shutout of 2019 in the match.
  • Tobin Heath tallied her third goal of the season, marking her second consecutive season with three or more goals.
  • With the goal, Heath moved into a tie for third place all-time in career goals, tallying her 12th goal for Portland.
  • Lindsey Horan notched her second assist of the 2019 assist. Horan has tallied two or more assists in each of her last three season with the club.
  • Thorns FC are now unbeaten in their last 10 matches (8-0-2) against the Dash, which is the team’s second-longest unbeaten streak against a single opponent.
  • Portland improved to 11-2-3 all-time against the Dash, including a mark of 7-1-0 at Providence Park.
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