Today’s match between Thorns FC and the visiting Chicago Red Stars will be intriguing for the number of questions it raises.
There’s the “Third time’s the charm?” question. The first two meetings between these clubs ended in 2-nil beatings for a Chicago side that never really learned the words to the Thorns’ opponents theme song, “How Do You Stop A Problem Like Alex Morgan?” Not their fault; only Sky Blue FC has managed to cover that number. But Rory Dames now has SBFC’s example to learn from. We’ll see if he can get the visitors to sing along to the tune that Jim Gabarra wrote here less than three weeks ago.
There’s also the “Where In The World Is Christine Sinclair (and Alex and Rachel and Karina…)?” question. We know where – Toronto, preparing to play each other. At Stumptown Footy the Always Indispensible Jonanna W discusses the potential options Cindy Parlow Cone has for reconfiguring a team that has leaned heavily on the currently-missing internationals. She mentions all the usual suspects in attack; Foxhoven, Long, Shim…even Angie Kerr (who in my opinion has yet to show the form she promised in preseason) and Nikki Washington (who I thought looked adrift against Sky Blue, underperformed against a visiting Washington Spirit and was recently benched against Seattle). But all of these players – though decent attackers all – have never yet played a minute against a NWSL opponent without the big names on the pitch. My suspicion is that they will have serious difficulties today against a Chicago defense that has added a very solid German defender in Sonja Fuss.
Which brings up the third and most fraught question; “Deutschland über Portland?”
Chicago has added another GWNT player, and she is a serious load; Inka Grings
“…is third on Germany’s all-time career scoring list with 64 international goals…was the top scorer in Euro 2005 with four goals… Scored five goals and was the top scorer in Euro 2009…won German Footballer of the Year in 1999, 2009, and 2010…and top-scorer in the UEFA Women’s Champions League in the 2010–11 season.” She’s also the Bundesliga’s all-time top scorer.
I can’t see Grings as anything but a huge problem for a Beuhlerless Thorns FC backline. And a real danger to a LeBlancless Portland goal. Parlow Cone will HAVE to devise a tactic or combination tactics to neutralize Grings or today will be, as another German is supposed to have said;
“For the Thorns, it will be the longest day … the longest day.”