Before my hip went bad I played keeper for a basement-league co-ed recreational soccer team in Portland.
You can imagine what the quality of our play was like.
I had a centerback that played in front of me who had been a decent amateur defender before his wheels had gone, but even then, as he tried hopelessly to contain the disaster in my penalty area, he retained a fine sense of defensive positioning and tactics; he knew how the game was supposed to be played and he had a keen appreciation of the difference between that and how we actually played.
So when, for all his hard graft, we would ship yet another goal Ed would typically look around at the wreckage of the defense strewn all about him, make what I always suspected was a very Scottish noise through his nose, and growl;
“Well. That was utter rubbish.”
Portland Thorns FC lost Wednesday night 2-1 to a pair of late Boston goals.
After going up on a Weimer strike in the 52nd minute the Thorns defense left Lianne Sanderson unmarked in their own 18 fifteen minutes later and she slotted the ball past a charging LeBlanc to even the match.
A draw would still have seen PTFC through to the playoffs, but shambolic defending descended on PTFC again in the 84th minute, when Heather O’Reilly ran onto a nicely weighted long ball and from there had an uncontested run at goal, and converted it handily.
Add to that a knee injury to Alex Morgan and you had an evening that was pretty thoroughly utter rubbish.
Portland has manage to back into the playoffs only because the woeful Washington Spirit defeated the Chicago Red Stars in a freakish 1-0 match – terminated in the 81st minute after long electrical storm delays, if you can believe that. Only in the NWSL…
We here in Portland should not be celebrating this.
Given the shambolic defending on display at Dilboy Stadium tonight the Thorns would be lucky to prevent three U-12s and their parents from putting four past Karina LeBlanc if they were to meet in the semifinal. Recreating their ugly mistakes in the loss to FCKC last Sunday the Thorns backline had another series of appalling breakdowns tonight and lost a match that the team should have won or at least drawn.
What will happen next week in Rochester I have no idea, but if current form holds nothing good.
Coach Parlow Cone’s contributed her inexplicable player selections and substitutions to the troubles Wednesday night.
Starting Ramirez for Dougherty might have made some sense had the defensive problems we’ve seen been largely on the flank rather than through Kat Williamson in centerback. But what the heck was going on with her match substitutions? Wetzel for Foxhoven at the hour might have made some sort of sense had it stiffened the defense; that it did not – both Boston goals went in after the sub – calls it into question.
But Ellertson for Shim at 85 minutes, down a goal and needing the equalizer?
I honestly don’t know what else to say other than, well…
I had hoped that the Thorns would rally in Boston after the wretched display last Sunday. I had hoped that Rachel Beuhler would woodshed her defenders and make them swear a blood-oath to give up their firstborns rather than ship another soft goal between the kickoff tonight and the final whistle in Tukwila.
I had hoped the Coach Parlow Cone would have devised tactical plans for the last three matches so cunning that Boston, Western New York, and Seattle would each end up in turn standing in a stymied huddle in midfield at the final whistle wondering what the Girls in Red had done to them.
Instead this team is a mess right now, sliding towards the playoffs in the worst possible condition.
I want to be hopeful. I want to continue to believe that this and last Sunday were just hiccups. I want to believe that the Thorns will regroup, charge into Rochester and slap the Flash around, storm into Tukwila and hammer the Reign, and from there roar into the playoffs with a shout.
But back in the day I wanted to believe that my team could win Co-ed Rec League IV.
And that turned out to be just utter rubbish, too.