Meghan Klingenberg, Thorns vs Reign, 09.30.20
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Thorns FC 4, OL Reign 1 | Sept. 30, 2020

NWSL POST-GAME QUOTES
Portland Thorns FC vs. OL Reign
Sept. 30, 2020 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Final: Portland Thorns FC 4, OL Reign 1


Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons
General thoughts on the match…
“Fantastic win that feels great. I think the team had a good performance and it’s scary to think there’s more in the tank, but there is. There’s a lot more in the tank for this group, collectively and individually. Led by [Christine Sinclair] who keeps getting younger and younger. What an unbelievable performance and I know we’ll focus on the goals, which were world-class, but the defensive work that she did, the influence that she had in creating space for herself and others… It’s a great team effort, team performance, but led by the best goal scorer in world football, men’s or women’s. So proud that I get to spend the time I do with her and we as a team get to learn and enjoy watching this masterclass. Seeing her this year, hoping this goes on for as long as possible.”

On playing in an empty Providence Park…
“I think the speaker noise was a bit less tonight which meant, unfortunately, the players could hear me a bit more. I can’t wait to have the fans back. I can’t wait to let them feel and see live what we’re kind of seeing with this new group and new team that continues to build. Of course, we have to put health and safety first. Right now, we’ve got a lot to continue to improve and fix. Not just with the pandemic. With other things. As a team and as a community, Portland have been a shining light in standing up for what is right. To get everyone back together, get the band back together in this stadium will be amazing. I’ll be honest, just having the privilege to play in here. The second-best thing is just being in here. It’s good for the soul to be playing in this stadium. We wanted to go out with a bang and our last performance and game here for 2020 sets us up nicely to make this place a fortress next year.”

On Christine Sinclair’s hat-trick performance…
“I think it was key to say this was a really high-level NWSL game. This was a very competitive NWSL quality game. That hasn’t always been the case in the Challenge Cup. There was one game in the Challenge Cup we were involved in, I thought was quite low level. You’ve seen it across this calendar year. This was up there. That first half was a very competitive first half and took a piece of magic from [Sinclair]. The movement and the dribble from [Lindsey Horan] to be able to create that moment and [Sinclair’s] finish was superb. I think you could answer the same way that you talk about her quality. How is she this talented? Was she born with this? She trains the best, she prepares the best, she’s so focused, she works hard every day. So how is she still doing it now? Because she has some of the best habits that elite pros have. That every day is important. Whether it’s recovery, whether it’s the way she trains, whether it’s defending, finishing practice, set pieces. She’s already critiquing on the goal conceded, which just sums her up. Scored a hat-trick, 4-1 and obviously she wants us to get better and not concede that goal. I felt the same. I was disappointed because I thought the backline, the whole team, but the backline and [Britt Eckerstrom] really deserved a clean sheet. But that’s why. Why she’s still such a high, high level and seems to be getting fitter. We saw her pace last week against Utah. She showed off how she can still move at such a good speed and the thing tonight was her defensive work was very key. The way [OL Reign] played their midfield meant that [Sinclair] had to deal with a double pivot and get side-to-side to deal with [Shirley] Cruz and [Allie] Long. Other players were there to support when it wasn’t possible. She did a very important job there and then just showed absolute class and quality in the final third.”

On if his team showed growth, grit and more confidence in their performance…
“The biggest way you can see our belief and our confidence, and also our mentality, is we had some sloppy moments tonight. We did have some giveaways in areas that we wouldn’t want to. Some unforced errors, but it didn’t shake our confidence or belief to play the way that we are going to play. An attacking team wants to get at the opposition, wants to control the game and be aggressive when we don’t have the ball. Our PPDA statistic, which shows how many passes you allow from the opponent before you get a defensive action, was right up there. Might be close to a new record for us. The average is eight, nine or 10 on a good team. We got down to six. [OL Reign] were only allowed six passes before we got a defensive action. I’m just proud of the way we worked and proud of the way that we believe in ourselves. The way that we’re going to sacrifice for each other. We’ve been performing and preparing and training and meeting and reviewing and everything as a team, which puts us in a good spot to keep moving forward. So, I feel good, feel great. It is about growth, but also about confidence and tonight, even when the unforced errors happened, it didn’t shake us. We wanted to play. We wanted to be dangerous. We could have scored a couple more goals near the end, which is scary. It’s scary to think about that.”

On Rocky Rodríguez’s performance…
“It starts with Rocky in that she was very influential in creating chances. She had some incredible moments of playing passes that really set up the attack or put us into great positions in the final third. That’s key for our midfielders and she has the quality to do that. The weird thing about your comment me telling her to shoot cause we have had to. In training or training games there’s never been a problem with her shooting, and she shoots a lot. In our training games building up to Challenge Cup she probably was one of our top goal scorers scoring from midfield. It’s just in the Challenge Cup that we felt the whole team, including Rocky could shoot a bit more. The finish is fantastic. It’s going to be great to watch back and I think you also see the togetherness of our team when that happens. Just like when we showed back a goal against Utah last week, even Britt Eckerstrom is doing a sprint to celebrate. It means a lot to us playing in this stadium and representing, not just ourselves and our community that can be with us and our fanbase that can’t be with us, but the business that we’ve partnered with and knowing this is a little bit bigger than ourselves and we got an opportunity to give back. They can have real impact locally.”

On adjustments the team made to open the game and score four goals…
“I thought the hydration break was an important one for us because the next 15 minutes we had a lot more control and when I say control in the sense of we’re able to build the way we wanted and get into spaces and attack. Because of that, our defending was more effective. Yes, I know that goals came in that moment, but the game felt different. That first 30 minutes, I felt was very even and [OL Reign] were very good. Probably one of their stronger performances they’ve had this year. At 30 minutes, what we told them was, and what we believed was, our unforced errors or our mistakes were allowing [OL Reign] in, especially in transition and because we were making those mistakes in our buildup, then our defending wasn’t able to be as effective. We were stuck in a log block a couple of times and [OL Reign] wanted to try to pull us all over the place. We managed to stay compact most of the time. Then at halftime we confirmed that. If we can be better on the ball with quality and not make those unforced errors, should be able to gain more control. It’s not just the first attack. It’s also the counter pressing that leads to other dangerous moments for our team because that first buildup was better. Goals help. Goals change games. Goals help confidence. I thought the first 10-15 [minutes] of the second half, we were very confident and had much more control. Bit sloppy at times. It’s strange and win 4-1, but what I really love, and I mentioned it earlier, when those things happened, our belief didn’t stutter. We’re very clear on what we want to be and how we want to play. This is about improving. This is about growing. Something we came out of the Challenge Cup and wanted to instill and be stronger in this Fall Series was this really brave and bold attacking mentality. When things are tough and when you misplace a pass or you haven’t got the momentum, not to shy away from being that team that can get us back on the attack. I thought we did that really well tonight. Even after some mistakes, we stuck to who we are and it paid off.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Rocky Rodríguez
On scoring her first goal and the technique she used...
“I'm going to try to describe it in words, because I think that the best description is my reaction. I've seen only one picture, but that's like a dream goal that you would want to score not only in Providence Park, but your first goal with the Thorns, what a special night for me and of course for the team as well. We beat the Reign, which is a huge rivalry that we have. Personally, I of course set myself a personal goal to hopefully be able to score in my new home field this year, and I only had like two chances, which was the previous game and this game, so it meant a lot to me to be able to contribute to the team, and that goal is just, it's so much fun you know, those are the kind of goals that you enjoy I think double, you just have fun. You try and when you score like that, you just have to celebrate that with your teammates.”

On being apart of the post-game rose ceremony...
“Wow. I got to say, it’s a very special thing because I felt very honored, especially because it was with Sincy [Christine Sinclair], tonight it was her and me, but I think it’s a ceremony that makes you feel special and it's sort of like a reward to your hard effort, at the end of the day every goal is a team effort, but you know I think that I'm grateful that they give you more than one rose so that you can also give to your teammates because it is a team effort. So, I'm able to give some roses to other teammates because again it's a team effort.”

On playing against Costa Rican national team teammate, Shirley Cruz...
“Shirley’s always been a leader in women's soccer for our team, our national team and the whole country. She's a very well known and respected public figure within sports. So the fact that we were now on the pitch playing against each other the first time ever, I think mentally for me, preparing up to this game, we also had the opportunity we could have played against each other in the Challenge Cup, it didn't happen so we had the opportunity to play each other this time, and to me, outside the field we're friends, and you hear this a lot, but on the field, we're rivals and it's pretty funny that we ended up in on different teams, especially the Reign and the Thorns, which there's especially a rivalry between these two teams. So on the field, it's like life or death, off the field we hug each other and, and we love each other.”

On playing in front of the Riveters next season...
“Oh my goodness, I cannot wait. I know that the community and the fans are something very special about this team, and that's something that I have always looked forward to when I've come to play at Providence Park, but now that I'm part of the Portland Thorns, it's that much more special, and I cannot wait to play in front of the Riveters, in front of the crowd, for the Riveters and for the crowd, give my best, give my personal best to defend these colors in this crest, and it's for them. It's for them and for our team, for our community, for Portland. So, I seriously can't wait, I'm trying to be patient for that, but it'll come. So yes, of course I'm looking forward to, to that.”

On what the key to winning this game was...
“I think we were expecting a tough game. I think that the Reign just came out and they have quality of course, every match is going to be hard in the NWSL. I agree that we started off good then it took us a second to readjust. They had their strategy and I think that they had a couple real good chances, and I think that Britt Eckerstrom is just a rock star, she keeps showing why she's part of the Thorns, and her quality. So they had their chances and I think it took us a little bit to adjust and react, but I think that we were able to adjust and read the strategy and then be able to play our game and keep our foot on the gas.”

On if she has seen a replay of her goal yet...
“I was able to watch the replay on the big camera in the stadium, so I was able to see it once. I can't wait to watch it over and over, because that doesn't happen all the time. But my teammates are amazing, they were so happy for me and celebrating with me, which I think it's part of why I love this team, everyone gets happy for everyone's success.”

On tonight being the last home match of 2020...
“I think it's so important to defend our home field. I think it's so important to understand and to make it clear for other teams that when they step in Providence Park it’s going to be tough. It's going to be a battle for them, because this is our territory, this is our field. So, the fact that we ended this year with two wins at home, I think it's just what is expected of the Portland Thorns. We’re happy that it's been this way in our home field, and of course there's always a lot of things that we have to get better at and we will and we want to, because I think that the more that this team plays together, the more that we grow. So it's only exciting and promising. For now, I think it's important to also recognize that the we were able to defend our home field and that's something to celebrate and to be proud of.”

Portland Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair
On her 74’ goal and if it was in retaliation to the Reign’s 70’ goal...
“Yeah, disappointed in the goal we gave up, we pride ourselves on set pieces defensively and it was important for us to get one back. We dominated most of the game, and it seemed that we’d taken our foot off the gas just a little bit, and they punished us for it. It’s always nice to score another one, especially against them.”

On getting a hat trick in a rivalry match...
“It obviously feels good, every time we play Tacoma it’s a rivalry match, we know it’s going to be tough. Obviously this year’s been very difficult in so many different ways, and teams have different players, different lineups than I think you would probably see in a regular season, but no matter what the scenario is, it’s always nice to get victories against them.”

On what the team has been focusing on to improve...
“I think the thing we’ve been working on is finishing our attack. I think it was something that was kind of lacking in the Challenge Cup earlier in the year, and it’s been a really big focus for us. I think you’ve seen against Utah and then again tonight, that not only are we finishing chances but we’re creating a lot of chances. I think our forwards have been playing great, they’ve been putting the opposition under tremendous pressure. Our backline, I was just talking to Lindsey [Horan] in the locker room, that we feel that we can take risks now, because our backline is so solid that we can take risks having to give up the ball, and we’ve got some world-class defenders behind us and obviously a world-class goalkeeper as well. So I think the team’s just really coming together right now.”

On her total number of goals for club and country surpassing 300...
“Obviously I’ve made a career in scoring goals, I had no idea that that’s the number that we’re at. I think it goes to show that I’ve had a pretty long career, I’ve been very fortunate to play on some great teams, both with the national team and professionally. But those are things I’ll think about when I’m done playing. Right now it’s next game, next goal.”

On if she was aware of how long it’s been since she has scored against the Reign...
“I don’t really pay attention to things like that, I don’t know when it was that I scored against them last, it’s not something I focus on. Believe it or not, I’ve made a career out of scoring goals, but it’s actually never been really my focus. It’s trying to help the team win, doing everything I can to get results with the teams I play for.”

On the atmosphere of a rivalry game without fans...
“It’s tough, it’s been a difficult year. We miss our fans; we have the best fans in the world. Tonight, they had the red smoke every time we scored, which is like a little taste of the Riveters. But obviously in a rivalry match, once the whistle blows it’s game on, doesn’t matter if there’s fans in the stands or not. But now that the game’s over, it would’ve been nice a to have the fans there for that one. It would have been a great party I’m sure.”

Notes:

  • The four goals scored marked a team-high for the 2020 campaign.
  • Thorns FC have had seven different players (Charley, Meghan Klingenberg, Tyler Lussi, Angela Salem, Sinclair, Rodríguez, Christen Westphal) play in every single match across all competitions in 2020.
  • Christine Sinclair tallied her third hat trick for Thorns FC in the NWSL across all competitions, becoming just the second player in league history to score more than two hat tricks (Sam Kerr – 4).
  • The hat trick marked the eighth multi-goal game for Sinclair in her NWSL career, and the fourth hat-trick in club history.
  • Sinclair has now tallied two multi-goal games against OL Reign, having last scored a brace against them on Aust. 17, 2013.
  • Rocky Rodríguez tallied her first goal as a member of Thorns FC.
  • Lindsey Horan tallied two assists against OL Reign, the first multi-assist match in her Thorns FC career.
  • Horan is tied for the team-lead with Klingenberg (3) in assists across all competitions in 2020.
  • Klingenberg tallied her third assist across all competitions in 2020.
  • Simone Charley tallied her first assist of the 2020 campaign, and her third career assist for Thorns FC.
  • Sophia Smith, in her second match as a professional, tallied a team-high five shots in 37 minutes off the bench.
  • Britt Eckerstrom tallied seven saves against OL Reign and improved to 3-1-0 across all competitions in 2020.

 

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