Man, that was brutal.
I don’t want to try and take credit away from Kansas City. They worked hard to win this match. They outhustled and out thought and outplayed the home side and came away with three points they probably never thought they’d see. Up front FCKC blocked off the passing lanes and stymied Tobin Heath as well as any Thorns opponent has yet. The visitors largely marked both Morgan and Sinclair out of the match. Holiday, FCKC’s heavyweight striker, worked hard to get open, and did.
But let’s not kid ourselves. Sunday’s 2-3 home loss was largely on Thorns FC. And largely on the defending.
Yes, Karina LeBlanc picked a bad Sunday to have an off day (probably two of FCKC’s goals were saveable). Yes, a little more precision from passing in the midfield might have helped things a bit (especially late in the game looking for the equalizer; the Thorns midfield looked gassed at about 75 minutes and the passing suffered accordingly). Yes, the wasteful shooting and failure to pull the trigger up front was a bit maddening (of the 17 shots Thorns FC put less than half – 8 – on frame). And, yes, FCKC keeper had a very good match, including a huge tip over the bar on a Heath shot at 69′.
When you give up three goals, at home, you will have a hard time getting the result you want, and that’s defending 101.
I could go on at length about the defensive errors that led to the FCKC goals.
But why? We know what happened and how it happened. We’ve been seeing it all season. Failure to mark – . Failure to track back. Lack of communication in the backline. Failure to close down on loose balls in midfield and lack of hustle getting back to defend against the resulting loss of possession.
The stake to the heart of the Thorns’ game was probably FCKC’s second goal, putting the visitors back up four minutes after Foxhoven equalized at 51′. The Stumptown Footy description – “a comedy of errors” – pretty much nails it;
“Kansas City got a counterattack started, and again and again the Thorns stepped up to try to intercept the ball. Again and again, they missed, until Erika Tymrak calmly chipped the ball past Buehler to Holiday, who was streaking into the box unmarked (again). Karina LeBlanc got a hand to the ball, but it wasn’t enough to keep the shot out.”
Even this account doesn’t give you a really good sense of the flailing panic in the Thorns defense. By the time Karina gave up crawling after the ball that rolled inside her left post you could almost feel the starch go out of the Thorns. The remainder of the match was a clinic in how to see out an away win with better organization and hustle.
What should have been the pinnacle of the Thorns FC regular season turned into a back alley beatdown of the home side in front of 17,000 Portland fans and a national television audience.
Are you angry, Karina? Alex, Christine, Tobin? Mana, Kat, Rachel? Danielle?
Are you angry, Coach?
I hope you are.
I’ve tried to come up with some pithy, epigrammatic, or witty things to say about this match and I just can’t. The problems were there for all to see; all Thorns FC had to do was play 90 minutes of solid soccer – score when they could, and defend their home goal – and they couldn’t do that.
Because there are now 270 minutes left in this regular season.
And Thorns FC has put themselves in a position to win every single damn second of them.