John Lawes has the lowdown on Thorns FC 0-2 Boston Breakers.
Does crisis fuel soccer in the Rose City? It’s now two defeats in a row for the Thorns and all-too familiar problems on the field for Portland fans.
Damn but these are getting depressing to write.
Thorns FC lost it’s second match in a row and the third without a win Saturday night at Jeld-Wen Field. The fifth-place Boston Breakers looked comprehensively the better team; effective in front of goal, dominant in midfield, and solid in the back. Naeher, the Boston keeper, played a blinder that included an 86th minute stoning of Alex Morgan that kept the sheet clean.
On the other side of the pitch Thorns FC showcased the problems I’ve been carping about for the recent weeks, both individual and collective. Nikki Washington had one of the worst outings I’ve seen from a winger whose usual form has been subpar since early in the season. Kat Williamson and Nikki Marshall got torched, Rachel Beuhler and Williamson seemed to be playing for different teams and with a Sydney Leroux in front of them that has been a pantsload over the last couple of matches the backline gave her acres of space and aeons of time and were rewarded with a pair of nifty – for Boston fans – goals.
The less said about Courtney Wetzel’s night as a defender the better, but if Parlow Cone tries THAT little experiment again she’d better have a good explanation for why. Wetzel looked so bad matched up against Leroux that Parlow Cone kept shifting her around the field like she was playing human three-card monte and Wetzel was the Red Queen. Cone’d better hope that she never has to take to hustling rubes for a living, because she sure wasn’t fooling Boston.
Boston dominated midfield play, pressing high and attacking the ball aggressively, just like every successful Portland opponent has done. And the Thorns responded with errant passes and lost tackles as has been their wont when confronted with this tactic.
Up front the attacking woes continued. The attackers took 20 shots but of that only seven were anywhere near the goal and those seven were either softballs or right at Naeher. Boston was rarely troubled all night by the supposedly deadly Portland forwards due to a combination of poor Portland coordination and tough Boston defense.
It’s getting harder and harder to see a good ending to this mess unless we see some real improvement in both team and individual play, and soon. Parlow Cone has got to figure out what to do about the problems we’re seeing and implement it. The team needs to find an on-field leader who is capable of marshaling the troops to make the coach’s plan happen.
And I think this needs to happen before the end of the regular season. One of the comments on my last post read in part:
“…as long as Portland keeps drawing 3X the crowds of the next closest drawing club in this league nobody at the FO gives a F***. And I mean that. This is a cash cow for them. SPC can coast on talent. With the talent the Thorns were gifted (and don’t think they weren’t) they will make the playoffs and win a lot of games. Her 1965 tactics won’t matter to anyone at the FO as long as they make the playoffs and they will.”
I think the commenter misunderstands the position this club is in. Merely getting to the playoffs this season will not be enough. A finals berth; in fact, a championship is the minimum the fan base expects. Portland soccer fans are far more forgiving than most – too forgiving, in my biased opinion. But given the expectations I firmly believe that merely making the playoffs and going out in the first round won’t cut it.
So I think this next match will be crucial.
If we can see some real changes, some real improvement across the entire team (except you, Karina – you are still The Wall!) against a tough opponent – even if we lose a hard-fought match – I think we can see the Thorns we expected to see and challenge for the league title.
If not? Well, if not I think we may be in for a damn ugly off-season.
Dammit, I refuse to think we can’t do that.
Onward, Rose City!