A crowd of 12,474 at JELD-WEN Field watched Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan lead Portland Thorns FC to a 2-0 victory over the Washington Spirit.
Thorns FC took the lead late in the first half when Sinclair settled an Allie Long cross and calmly sent a bending left-footed shot to the far post eluding Spirit keeper Chantel Jones.
Morgan iced the match for Thorns FC in the 86th minute when Courtney Wetzel intercepted a Robin Gayle pass and sent a perfect through pass ahead to Morgan, who dribbled into the penalty box and struck a hard right-footed shot past Jones.
The victory put Thorns FC’s record at: (5-1-1, 16pts). They’ll travel up I-5 next Saturday to take on Seattle Reign FC in a 6 p.m. PST matchup at Starfire Sports Complex.
THOUGHTS ON THE MATCH:
* First, the positives…
– Coach Cindy Parlow Cone had lots of good things to saw about Mana Shim (I posted the press conference video below). I thought Shim played her best match for Thorns FC and showed some really nice interplay between her and Christine Sinclair. Shim has some nice technical skills and has made a nice transition to the forward position.
– Christine Sinclair was once again, superb. Sinclair is willing to do whatever is necessary on the pitch and her first-half goal was a perfect example of a player not willing to be denied.
– Karina LeBlanc didn’t have much to do really, but got another clean sheet. Those who have followed LeBlanc throughout her career know her quality and the leadership she is providing to the defense has been excellent.
* In the end, it’s always the 3 points that matter most, but I think there’s some things needing improvement which if not taken care of, will come back to haunt Portland when they play some of the better NWSL clubs (Kansas City and Boston for example).
* In the post-match presser, Cindy Parlow Cone again talked about the club’s “possession-based style.” I think it’s fantastic that this is a style the team wants to emphasize and play, but in reality, the team is far from meeting that goal. I didn’t count but there were way too many long balls for a team which likes to talk about playing possession-style soccer. It seems when the players are out of ideas, the default option is to launch the ball up the pitch and let Alex try and track it down.
Another thing I noticed yesterday was the lack of off-the-ball movement. At one point, I saw each of the Thorns FC players literally almost at a standstill while one player (Nikki Marshall) had the ball and was dribbling. No one flashed to an open space to become available, no one made a run into the box, and when Marshall ended up dribbling up the left flank, even Alex Morgan was still just standing there watching as Marshall tried to make something out of nothing before losing the ball out of bounds.
Now, I know fatigue was definitely an issue yesterday (Thorns FC were playing their 3rd match in 8 games) so I’m willing to accept that, and for the record, I believe the coaching staff noticed the above-mentioned play as well because things improved right after that. Still, those are moments which tactically make Thorns FC look a bit lost out there.
Portland Thorns FC (5-1-1, 16pts) vs. Washington Spirit (1-3-3, 6pts)
May 19, 2013 – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
WAS 0 0 0
POR 1 1 2
POR: Sinclair (Long), 41
POR: Morgan (Wetzel), 86
POR: Marshall (Caution), 65
WAS: Gayle (Caution), 82
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc; D Marian Dougherty, D Rachel Buehler, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall, M Becky Edwards, M Allie Long (Jessica Shufelt, 90), M Meleana Shim (Angie Kerr, 79), M Nikki Washington (Courtney Wetzel, 71), F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan
Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, D Jazmyne Avant, M Elizabeth Guess, F Danielle Foxhoven
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Morgan, 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Morgan, 3); FOULS: 7 (Marshall, Long, 2); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 3
WAS: GK Chantel Jones, D Domenica Hodak, D Tori Huster, D Robyn Gayle, D Ali Krieger, M Julia Roberts, M Lori Lindsey (capt.), M Diana Matheson, M Ingrid Wells (Jasmyne Spencer, 71), F Tiffany McCarty (Caroline Miller, 65), F Stephanie Ochs
Substitutes Not Used: GK Ashlyn Harris, D Candace Chapman, D Kika Toulouse, M Holly King, F Colleen Williams
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Three players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players tied, 1); FOULS: 9 (Gayle, 2); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 6
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Referees: Cory Richardson, Andrew Deuker
Fourth Official: Andrew Brooks
Weather: 57 degrees, partly cloudy
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial
CINDY PARLOW CONE PRESS CONFERENCE: