Tag Archives: Alex Morgan

Sinclair and Morgan goals lead Thorns FC to victory

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.

MATCH STATS:

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

Scoring Summary
POR: Sinclair (Long), 41
POR: Morgan (Wetzel), 86

Misconduct Summary
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
Attendance: 12,474
Weather: 57 degrees, partly cloudy

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

CINDY PARLOW CONE PRESS CONFERENCE:

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS:

Thorns FC remain unbeaten with 2-1 win over Washington

Thorns FC got goals from forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Nikki Washington to lead Portland to a third consecutive victory with a 2-1 win against the Washington Spirit.

and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made six saves as Portland Thorns FC earned their third consecutive victory with a 2-1 win against the Washington Spirit on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,011 fans at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md.

Match Notes:

  • With a goal on Saturday, forward Alex Morgan has earned at least a point in three straight matches.
  • Midfielder Meleana Shim made her NWSL debut for Portland, earning her first start of the season.
  • Defender Jazmyne Avant made her NWSL debut, entering the match as a 64th minute substitute for injured defender Nikki Marshall.
  • All three of Portland’s road games have been witnessed by sellout crowds.

Here’s a few quick thoughts on the match:

  • Portland has a defense too. While much of the talk about Thorns FC has to do with their offensive talent (and for good reason obviously), Coach Cindy Parlow Cone has her club playing some solid defense. Washington forced keeper Karina LeBlanc to come up with six saves, but to be honest, none of those really ever challenged the veteran.
  • Speaking of defense, Rachel Buehler played her best match of the season. It took a few matches but we got a glimpse of the Rachel Buehler we’re used to seeing with the United States Women’s National Team. The ‘Buehldozer’ was everywhere and was a big factor in spearheading a defense which rendered Washington’s attack pretty futile in the final third.
  • Unsung hero: Allie Long. I mentioned it in another post, but I’m waiting for the league to partner with Opta Stats or someone similar, because I’d love to see the passing stats and heat map for Allie Long. Yeah, she can be a dodgy tackle sometimes and seems on the brink of getting a yellow card every match (she’s the Thorns Diego Chara maybe). However, Long makes the right pass almost 100% of the time and yesterday she had another stellar effort.

Quotable: 

Head coach Cindy Parlow Cone
On forward Alex Morgan being the team’s focal point:
“Alex is a true professional in every sense of the word. She may be a young player, but she’s wise beyond her years and she understands the position she is in and has embraced it. She has been great for our team and great for this game. We’ve been to Kansas City and Chicago and everywhere we’ve been people are shrieking Alex’s name.”

On Washington’s defense:
“They’re a fantastic team. Their backline is very good with Robyn Gayle, Tori Huster, Ali Krieger and Hodak with Ashlyn Harris in goal. That’s a very strong back line. In front of them having (Lori) Lindsey and Julia Roberts, that’s tough to play against. I said it before the game that that’s going to be a tough block to break down because they are a very good defensive team.”

On Portland’s defensive pressure forcing miscues:
“We’re sorting out our defensive pressure. We want to be a high-pressing team and we saw moments of it tonight. The one turnover we were able to get a goal on was Nikki Washington’s in the second half (while Morgan hit the post after a turnover in the first half).”

Match Stats:

Portland Thorns FC (3-0-1, 10pts) vs. Washington Spirit (0-2-2, 2pts)
May 4, 2013 – Maryland SoccerPlex (Boyds, Md.)

Goals by Half              1         2        F
POR                              1          1         2
WAS                             0          1         1

Scoring Summary
POR – Morgan (penalty kick)                       12
POR – Washington (unassisted)                  51
WAS – Matheson (penalty kick)                   86

Misconduct Summary
WAS – Harris (caution)                       13
POR – Long (caution)                        70
POR – Edwards (caution)                   82

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc; D Marian Dougherty, D Rachel Buehler, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall (Jazmyne Avant, 64), M Becky Edwards, M Allie Long (Courtney Wetzel, 83), M Meleana Shim (Danielle Foxhoven, 90+3), M Nikki Washington, F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay

TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Sinclair, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Sinclair/Morgan, 2); FOULS: 7 (Edwards/Shim, 2); OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 6

WAS: GK Ashlyn Harris; D Domenica Hodak (Jazmyne Spencer, 75), D Robyn Gayle, D Tori Huster, D Ali Krieger, M Lori Lindsey (capt.), M Diana Matheson, M Ingrid Wells (Tiffany McCarty, 46), M Julia Roberts, F Caroline Miller, F Stephanie Ochs

Substitutes Not Used: GK Chantel Jones, D Candace Chapman, D Kika Toulouse, M Colleen Williams, M Lupita Worbis

TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Three players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (McCarty, 2); FOULS: 7 (Hodak, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3

Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referees: Shannon Poplstein, Danielle Chesky
Fourth Official: Hagan Barnett
Attendance: 5,011
Weather: 66 degrees, clear and breezy

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

Match Highlights:

From her own wings: Thorns FC seen from the north end

Once again my compa Chris Singer is there “fustest with the mostest,” so I won’t add anything other than a recommendation to read his match report from Portland Thorns FC’s first ever victory, the 2-1 win over the visiting Seattle Reign this past Sunday. And I would be remiss if I didn’t also direct you to the by-now-indispensible JonannaW’s report over at Stumptown Footy.

Having been in the North End for the match I thought I’d just add some of my own observations from Section 109.

In the stands:

The numbers.  The last time I recall seeing the old Civic Stadium this full for a women’s match was the last time the U.S. women’s national team played here. in 2012, and that crowd was less raucous and less partisan than Sunday’s.  I can understand how the Thorns FC players and coaches were impressed.  While I don’t expect the stands to continue to be quite that packed, I think we showed our colors as Soccer City, USA, and those colors were bright red and white.

The overall sensibility inside the Shed was very different from a Timbers match.  I think the effect of the large general admission seating section (the entire lower bowl all the way around to Section 110) and the smaller size of the Rose City Riveters supporters group had the effect of diluting the fervor of the North End.  I think that this will sort itself out over the season, as louder and more vertical will gravitate towards 107 while the quiet sitters will move away.

One effect of “early days yet” seems to be that there was some confusion on where exactly “general admission” was located.  The event staff was quite definite; all the 100 sections ending at 110.  But the couple behind us at the west end of 109 had reserved seats for that section, and so did another group of five sitting where we first sat.  We had no trouble finding other seats, but hopefully Thorns FC and Jeld-Wen work this out quickly; having supporters dueling over places to sit or stand won’t help anyone focus on the match.

The other issue that club, supporters, and venue will need to work on figuring out is “who stands”?  On Sunday pretty much everyone across the North End over to 108 was standing.  But in our section the confusion began; several whole areas were sitting, some behind supporters who were standing.  This didn’t seem to be a big issue when the ball was 20 yards or more from the end line, but when a player worked the ball down into the near corner it forced the sitters to stand to see the play.  This jack-in-the-box jumping up noticeably increased in the second half as Portland repeatedly attacked Seattle’s goal, and I can see this becoming an issue in the future as some solid citizen objects to those yobs standing in his way.  The Timbers’ North End match supporters have worked this out pretty well; you know going in that everyone is going to stand so you either stand or move.

The Riveters did fine work Sunday, keeping the energy high and mixing in enough familiar TA (but non-Timbers specific) songs and chants with new Thorns FC material to keep the noise level up.  The Thorns FC songs were a trifle sotto voce; this, too, will strengthen with time and familiarity.  Special kudos to Sunday for her awesome Rosie the Riveter outfit; we already knew she was brilliant for her work as a Timbers capo; she was a rock on the main capo stand Sunday and she’s already bringing the heat to the visiting teams.

The title of this post, by the way, comes from the Thorns’ unofficial slogan, She Flies With Her Own Wings, which is one English version of the State motto Alis volat propriis. The Thorns season ticket holders were all about sporting a handsome scarf with that motto knitted into it; it’s impressive the diversity of scarves this club and its supporters have created in just a few months…

On the pitch:

After a shaky start against Kansas City away, Thorns FC looked an order of magnitude better against Seattle Sunday.  I thought that some of this had to do with the relative strength of the KCFC midfield compared to the less-active, looser-pressing Seattle unit.  But I think a lot of it had to do with better composure and better organization in the Thorns midfield and backline.

For all that, Portland still needed almost 45 minutes to work out how to consistently push the ball up to the forwards.  From what I could see a huge part of this was Seattle’s Jessica Fishlock, who was a complete beast both offensively and defensively.  She went in hard on every tackle, had a nasty instinct for closing down passing lanes and in attack was a pest and a caution all match.  Rachel Buehler and Kathryn Williamson, the Thorns FC centerbacks, had trouble with her all match and her persistence paid off with a 74th minute goal.

Buehler seems to help settle the Thorns FC backline, but Williamson (who seems like a decent CB but nomination for “player of the week” last week was…confusing, to say the least, given the defensive breakdown that led to the Cuellar goal) was nowhere in sight when Fishlock’s mucker Keelin Winters knocked Buehler down to free her pal up for the easy strike.  Over the course of the match the back four looked solid, but the confusion as the ball bounded about in front of goal was a nasty reminder that this unit has very Timberesque moments when soccer just flies out of the room.  Parlow-Cone is surely talking to them about that this week…

Karina LeBlanc’s bicolor mohawk was ridiculously awesome; so was her steady keeping, though she was relatively untroubled most of the match she was blameless on the Fishlock goal.

It is interesting to watch Christine Sinclair’s evolution from a Abby Wambach-style frontrunning striker into a trequartista.  I understand why Parlow-Cone has moved her back; her tackling behind the ball and her service to Morgan and Washington up front make all the difference in midfield.  Allie Long is working hard, but without Sinclair in the #10 position the midfield was overrun at KCFC.  Sinclair adds there what she did upfront; a combination of skill and muscle that stymies the opponent and frees the Thorns FC strikers.  More than ever I am awed by this woman’s gifts; she is truly a great player and it is a gift to watch her play.

In the end:

Portland has shown Thorns FC some love, and at 1-0-1, Thorns FC have returned that affection with a great start to their season.  Their next opponent is Chicago; the Red Stars drew the Reign 1-1 the opening weekend, bombing Seattle keeper Betos with 14 shots, 9 on goal.  This should be a real test for the Thorns FC organization in back.  The defenders will have to have a solid 90 minutes than we’ve had up ’til now.  But I’m confident – Onward, Rose City!

I should add this odd little tale before I go, though.

I picked up our tickets on the Saturday before the match; parked off 17th and walked down Morrison to the box office at the north face of the field.  The woman in the ticket booth glanced up over her cat-eye glasses at me when I asked what was open for Sunday and informed me in a smoker’s voice that the only reserved seats open were at the far southwest end near the visitor’s section.

“That’s terrific…” I replied, “I had no idea that the tickets had sold so well.”

“Well, yeah, that’s Portland…” she rasped, pulling off my tickets and shoving them through the hole in the window. “…but Portland ain’t the whole league, y’know.”

We looked at each other for a moment; both of us, I think, remembering all those other professional women’s soccer leagues come and gone.

And I pocketed the tickets and walked back down the street.

Three quick thoughts on the Thorns FC victory

Want a recipe for an epic day in women’s soccer? Take Portland Thorns FC defender Jazmyne Avant absolutely nailing the United States national anthem, Karina LeBlanc’s hair, add the Rose City Riveters beautiful tifo and finally throw in 16,479 fans rocking Jeld Wen Field and you have a pretty phenomenal day.

It was most definitely a more epic day for Thorns FC supporters as they watched goals from Marian Dougherty and Alex Morgan lead Portland to a 2-1 victory over Seattle Reign FC.

Here’s three quick thoughts on the match:

* Christine Sinclair is pretty good.

Cindy Parlow-Cone said this about Sinclair in the postgame press conference: “Everybody talks about Christine in terms of scoring goals but she’s one of the best passers in all of women’s soccer.”

Coach hits the nail on the head there. NWSL needs to get some Opta Stats, because I’d be drooling over Sinclair’s heat map and distribution chart from today’s match. She was in one word: spectacular.

* Cindy Parlow-Cone can coach.

If you watched the first match of the season against FC Kansas City, you know the team didn’t display the kind of play Thorns FC was hoping for and Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan had way too few touches. In this match, Cone had Sinclair playing more withdrawn and underneath Morgan. As a result, Sinclair had many more touches on the ball and a much more influential impact on the match.

* Still room for improvement.

We saw some terrific flashes of brilliance from Thorns FC yesterday and with time, things should only get better. It’s still amazing to think that last week was only the first time every Thorns FC player was available for a full week of practice. That definitely showed against Seattle as every player was much improved over their first match in Kansas City. I have to think that every more steps will be taken in the next match against Chicago Red Stars.

Quotable:

Cindy Parlow-Cone on the atmosphere at JELD-WEN Field for the first Thorns FC home game:
“This was awesome. I was walking around the field with Rachel Buehler and we looked at each other and she’s like, ‘This is like the World Cup!’ That’s what it felt like. It felt like that atmosphere we had at the World Cup and at the Olympics. It was an unbelievable atmosphere.”

Game Stats:

Portland Thorns FC (1-0-1, 4pts) vs. Seattle Reign FC (0-1-1, 1pts)
April 21, 2013 – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)

Goals by Half                1          2          F
Portland                        1          1          2
Seattle                            0          1          1

Scoring Summary
POR: Dougherty (Washington), 45
POR: Morgan (Sinclair), 52
SEA: Fishlock, 74

Misconduct Summary
POR: Long (Caution), 10
POR: Kerr (Caution), 11
SEA: Reed (Caution), 30
SEA: Nairn (Caution), 33
POR: Washington (Caution), 68
SEA: Fishlock (Caution), 78

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc, D Marian Dougherty, D Kathryn Williamson, D Rachel Buehler, D Nikki Marshall, M Nikki Washington, M Becky Edwards, M Angie Kerr (Danielle Foxhoven, 76), M Allie Long (Courtney Wetzel, 80), F Christine Sinclair, F Alex Morgan

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, D Jazmyne Avant, D Emilee O’Neil, M Meleana Shim, F Jessica Shufelt

TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Morgan, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Morgan, 2); FOULS: 11 (Long, 4); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 1

SEA: GK Michelle Betos, D Emily Zurrer, D Lauren Barnes (Jenny Ruiz, 84), D Kate Deines, D Ellie Reed, M Kaylyn Kyle, M Teresa Noyola (Kiersten Dallstream, 54), M Jessica Fishlock, M Keelin Winters, M Christine Nairn, F Liz Bogus (Kristina Larsen, 66)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Hayley Kopmeyer, M Lyndsey Patterson, M Kristen Meier,

TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Three players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Fishlock, Nairn, 1); FOULS: 10 (Fishlock, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 3

Referee: Josh Wilkens
Assistant Referees: Felisha Mariscal, Desmond Miller
Fourth Official: Jason Perlewitz
Attendance: 16,479
Weather: 51 degrees, overcast

Game of Thorns

So here is the official list of internationals allocated to the Thorns:

USWNT:  Rachel Beuhler (D), Alex Morgan (F) , Tobin Heath (M)

MWNT: Luz del Rosario Saucedo (D), Marlene Sandoval (D)

CWNT: Karina LeBlanc (GK), Christine Sinclair (F)

Just a couple of thoughts:

Obviously the combination of Morgan and Sinclair will make the Thorns’ attack a challenge for any of the other teams in this league.  I loved watching Sinclair play at Merlo and look forward to seeing her play again in Portland.

In the times I’ve seen her LeBlanc appears to be a steady keeper with safe hands; I would consider her a good addition to the team.

Beuhler is a workmanlike USWNT defender.  I am unfamiliar with either of the two Mexico players.  In addition, I cannot find a “Marlene Sandoval” listed for Las Tri – there is a “Rubí Sandoval” who is this player identified as a defender.  Both Mexican defenders are experienced (Saucedo is 27, Sandoval 28 assuming this is the right Sandoval) but with a side not well known for its steadiness in the back.

Overall, I like what we’re getting.  Onward, Rose City!

NWSL Announces List of 55 Allocated Players

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has announced the list of 55 U.S., Canadian and Mexican National Team players that will be allocated to the eight clubs.

Once the allocation process is completed, the club location for all 55 players will be announced on Friday, Jan. 11.

The breakdown of players by country:

United States (23)

Goalkeepers (4): Nicole Barnhart, Ashlyn Harris, Jill Loyden, Hope Solo

Defenders (7): Rachel Buehler, Ali Krieger, Amy LePeilbet, Heather Mitts, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn

Midfielders (8): Shannon Boxx, Lauren Cheney, Tobin Heath, Lori Lindsey, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, Keelin Winters

Forwards (4): Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach

Canada (16)

Goalkeepers (2): Karina LeBlanc, Erin McLeod

Defenders (6): Melanie Booth, Robyn Gayle, Carmelina Moscato, Lauren Sesselmann, Rhian Wilkinson, Emily Zurrer

Defender/Midfielder (1): Bryana McCarthy

Midfielders (4): Kaylyn Kyle, Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott

Midfielders/Forwards (2): Adriana Leon, Jodi-Ann Robinson

Forward (1): Christine Sinclair

Mexico (16)

Goalkeepers (2): Aurora Cecilia Santiago Cisneros, Pamela Tajonar Alonso

Defenders (5): Alini Lisi Garciamendez Rowold, Jennifer Marie Ruiz Brown, Luz del Rosario Saucedo Soto, Rubi Marlene Sandoval Nungaray, Marylin Viridiana Diaz Ramirez

Midfielders (5): Veronica Raquel Perez Murillo, Teresa Noyola Bayardo, Lydia Nayeli Rangel Hernandez, Teresa Guadalupe Worbis Aguilar, Dinora Lizeth Garza Rodriguez

Forwards (4): Maribel Dominguez Castelan, Monica Ocampo Medina, Renae Nicole Cuellar Cuellar, Anisa Raquel Guajardo Braff

Some thoughts on the list of players:

* Originally, the number of allocated players was set at 52 (24 U.S, 16 Canada, 12 Mexico). Mexico was asked to add four players to the list so the distribution could be even (56 players total, 7 to each of the 8 clubs).

*  As you notice above, the U.S. only listed 23 players. Who’s missing? Olympic alternates Meghan Klingenberg and Christen Press are both committed to playing for Tyresö FF in Sweden.

* With the U.S. listing 23 players, that obviously means one team will have one less U.S. national team player. It will be interested to see how that plays out and whether that team will be awarded

* Players with Portland ties:

– Abby Wambach (recently purchased a home in Portland)

– Megan Rapinoe (former University of Portland player now playing in France with Olympique Lyonnais – she’ll return to NWSL about a month into the season)

– Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt (also former University of Portland players)

– If those four somehow get allocated to Portland, that will be quite a coup for Thorns FC.

With the club location for all 55 players coming up on Friday, who do you think goes where?