Tag Archives: Soccer

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:

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Thorns FC draws FC Kansas City 1-1 in their inaugural NWSL match

Christine Sinclair converted a second-half penalty kick to help Thorns FC to a come-from-behind 1-1 draw in front of sold-out crowd of 6,784 fans at Shawnee Mission District Stadium in Overland Park, Kansas.

The Thorns FC season got off to a rocky start when FC Kansas City’s Renae Cuellar took a long pass from Kristin Mewis and scored the first goal in NWSL history in only the match’s 3rd minute.

The Thorns FC defense settled down after that but FC Kansas City, with especially strong play from their midfield, looked to be the better team in the first half.

The second half featured a much better showing from the Thorns FC defense as Becky Edwards and the rest of the backline did a much better job containing FC Kansas City’s midfield and denying their forwards opportunities.

Thorns FC got a big break in the 66th minute when second-half substitute Danielle Foxhoven was fouled by Lauren Sesselmann in the penalty area. Sinclair, the captain for Thorns FC, converted the penalty kick with a hard shot to the low right side, recording the first goal in Portland’s NWSL history in the 67th minute.

Next weekend, Thorns FC has their  inaugural home match on Sunday, April 21, against Seattle Reign FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PST) and the game will be broadcast on Freedom 970 AM as well as via web stream at www.portlandthornsfc.com.

Game Stats:

Portland Thorns FC (0-0-1, 1pts) at FC Kansas City (0-0-1, 1pts)
April 13, 2013 – Shawnee Mission District Stadium (Overland Park, Kan.)

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

Scoring Summary
KC – Cuellar (Mewis)                            3rd minute
POR – Sinclair (penalty kick)             67

Misconduct Summary
KC – Mewis (caution)                            43
POR – Washington (caution)              70
POR – Williamson (caution)               82

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc; D Marian Dougherty, D Rachel Buehler, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall (Emilee O’Neil, 61); M Becky Edwards, M Allie Long, M Angie Kerr (Danielle Foxhoven, 63); F Nikki Washington (Courtney Wetzel, 90), F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, M Meleana Shim

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Morgan, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Sinclair, 2); FOULS: 13 (Long, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2

KC: GK Nicole Barnhart; D Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), D Leigh Ann Robinson, D Lauren Sesselmann, D, Jen Buczkowski; M Casey Loyd (Courtney Jones, 72), M Merritt Mathias (Katie Kelly, 77), M Desiree Scott, M Kristie Mewis (Erika Tymrak, 81), M Lauren Cheney (capt.); F Renae Cuellar

Substitutes Not Used: GK Bianca Henninger, D Nia Williams, F Melissa Henderson

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Two players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three tied with 1); FOULS: 11 (Two players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3

Referee: Kari Seitz
Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Kyle Atkins
Fourth Official: Jon Freemon
Attendance: 6,784

Thorns FC announce broadcast details for 2013 season

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC announced today that all 11 of the club’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) home matches will be broadcast on Freedom 970 AM, with all 22 matches available via live web stream at www.portlandthornsfc.com.

All NWSL home teams will provide live streaming video of their matches, which will be made available on www.portlandthornsfc.com for the club’s home and away games. All games at JELD-WEN Field will be streamed in high definition. On the road, the host team’s web stream will be provided.

Starting with Portland’s inaugural home match on April 21 against Seattle Reign FC, veteran sports broadcaster Ann Schatz will provide play-by-play with former University of Portland All-American goalkeeper Angela Harrison adding analysis as the broadcast team on Freedom 970 AM.

Schatz joins the Thorns FC broadcast team with more than 30 years of experience in the sports broadcasting field. After moving to the Rose City in 1989, Schatz worked at KOIN-TV before becoming the sideline reporter for Portland Trail Blazers basketball from 1999 until 2005. She turned her focus to the college ranks working with CBS Sports and, most recently, the Pac-12 Network calling women’s soccer, basketball and softball games. Originally from Omaha, Neb., Schatz played both basketball and softball at Creighton University, where she earned a degree in journalism and mass communications.

Harrison, a standout goalkeeper for the University of Portland from 1996-99, joins the Thorns FC broadcast team after three years as a radio analyst for the Pilots. Playing under the direction of Clive Charles, Harrison finished her collegiate career ranked sixth all-time in the program’s record books in both saves (132) and shutouts (24.5). A Soccer Buzz All-America selection in 1997, Harrison went on to win two USL W-League championships with the Boston Renegades in 2001 and 2002. She returned to Portland and was awarded an MBA from the University of Portland in 2005. In addition to broadcasting, Harrison has been a longtime youth soccer coach, developing numerous goalkeepers for the youth national team and college ranks. She currently serves as the director of operations for the Oregon Premier League.

 

Portland Timbers “rain” supreme over the Dynamo

The Portland Timbers got two second-half goals from forward Ryan Johnson and overcame two devastating first-half injuries to get their first victory under Caleb Porter; a 2-0 shutout victory over the Houston Dynamo on a cold, rainy night at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday.

Here’s three quick thoughts regarding last night’s impressive victory:

* Trust in Porter’s plan

Last night’s lineup announcement certainly raised some eyebrows and had Twitter buzzing (Rodney Wallace getting the start as a forward/wing player and Jack Jewsbury at right back), but in the end it was really quite a brilliant coaching decision. Over the last few matches, I’ve sided with the recent school of thought regarding the idea that Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara should not be on the pitch together. I’m happy to admit that I was wrong, although I will state that if they are going to play together, last night’s lineup is the only way to do it.

The moral of the story is that Timbers supporters (including myself) may just need to be patient and trust in Porter’s plan.

* Rodney Wallace

I’ve been on the Rodney Wallace “Bandwagon” with Mike Donovan and a few others for awhile now. My only caveat to being a part of the RWB is that I was only on the RWB when Wallace wasn’t playing left back, where I think he is not at his best. Wallace began to turn the corner as a player as he started getting quality minutes for the Costa Rican national team. His rise coincided and possibly was jumpstarted by his winning goal against the United States national team back in September of 2011. With increasing call ups and opportunities, Wallace has shown he can be a positive contributor either as a sub or a starter. Last night, we saw a Rodney Wallace brimming with confidence and he shined. Credit to Porter for putting Wallace in the position to do so.

* A benchmark victory

After last night’s victory, Portland Timbers supporters are finding themselves in some very new territory. The Timbers have a positive goal differential (that’s never happened this late into a season since joining MLS). They saw a team playing with confidence and showing a very strong resolve and character in overcoming two brutal and discouraging first half injuries. They saw the Timbers play with absolute dominance in the second half and was probably the best 45 minutes I’ve ever seen this club play. They saw the Timbers control possession and create multiple scoring opportunities. They saw an opposing club wilt under the weight of being trapped in their defensive half for lengthy periods of time. Hopefully this is the first of many more wins, but I think this is a match which may be looked upon as a benchmark. Obviously it’s early, but it’s hard not to be optimistic; yet another new and uncommon feeling for Timbers supporters.

* Quotable:

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter
Thoughts on the win:
“It feels good winning our first of hopefully many, proud of the guys. They had a bit of adversity in the first half, but as the half went on we just got rolling. The guys that came into the game did a great job.”

On unlocking the Dynamo defense in the second half
“We shifted Darlington Nagbe in his role, and we put Kalif [Alhassan] on and I thought those two guys played fantastic, and really everybody. I thought it was a comprehensive performance on both sides of the ball. It really looked like what we want our identity to be. Tonight I think you saw what could happen when we get up on teams. They had a hard time getting on the ball because we kept attacking and kept moving the ball. It’s important to get results for the players to realize what they’re capable of doing. This was a big step in the right direction, this was that breakthrough that I was looking for. It is one thing to know you’re playing well and know you’re a good team, but to get three points, that reinforces it.”

On the performance of Ryan Johnson
“He was very good. This team is predicated on working hard; running, pressing. He’s a workman-like player and he did that tonight. He worked them hard running, pressing, and making things happen – he played well.”

On the play of the Timbers backline
“It was very good, and it wasn’t just the backs that were tremendous. I thought Jack Jewsbury did an unbelievable job. He played like I’d hoped he would; smart positionally, balancing our team out. He’s a mature player, and you could see that tonight. Mikael Silvestre was class tonight, he won a lot of air balls in that second half. Michael Harrington has been very consistent. Again, it wasn’t just them, it was the entire team. The pressure that we put on when we got going was relentless.”

* Highlights:

Thorns FC Release 2013 NWSL Season Schedule

Portland Thorns FC will open the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season on Saturday, April 13, against FC Kansas City at Shawnee Mission District Stadium, it was announced today with the release of the full, 22-game 2013 NWSL schedule.

Thorns FC will square off against Seattle Reign FC on Sunday, April 21, in the home opener at JELD-WEN Field; kickoff is set for 2 p.m. (Pacific).

The club will play 11 home matches, all at JELD-WEN Field, and 11 away matches during the five-month season. The eight-team league features a single table, and Thorns FC will play an unbalanced schedule; hosting the Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC twice at home. Portland must travel twice to face Boston, Chicago, FC Kansas City and Seattle.

Highlighting the Thorns FC schedule are two home matches against Pacific Northwest rival Seattle Reign FC on Sunday, April 21 and Sunday, June 16, as well as a marquee home match against U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach and the Western New York Flash on Sunday, July 14.

Also scheduled are three Saturday-Sunday pairings with the Portland Timbers. The weekend pairings are June 15-16 (Timbers vs. FC Dallas, June 15/Thorns FC vs. Seattle, June 16); July 13-14 (Timbers vs. LA Galaxy, July 13/Thorns FC vs. Western New York, July 14) and Aug. 3-4 (Timbers vs. Vancouver, Aug. 3/Thorns FC vs. FC Kansas City, Aug. 4).

The regular season will conclude the weekend of Aug. 18 with the top four teams qualifying for the NWSL playoffs.

Thorns FC is scheduled to open training camp in March.

Schedule Breakdown:

Home Dates by Day of the Week:
Wednesday (1), Thursday (2), Saturday (2), Sunday (6)
Road Dates by Day of the Week:
Wednesday (1), Saturday (7), Sunday (3)

Home Dates by Month:
April (1), May (2), June (3), July (4), August (1)
Road Dates by Month:
April (2), May (3), June (2), July (1), August (3)

2013 Portland Thorns FC Schedule (home matches in bold, CAPS)

Date Opponent Kickoff (Pacific) Venue
Saturday, April 13 @FC Kansas City 5:35 p.m. Shawnee Mission District Stadium
Sunday, April 21 SEATTLE REIGN FC 2 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Saturday, April 27 @Chicago Red Stars 5 p.m. Benedictine University Sports Complex
Saturday, May 4 @Washington Spirit 4 p.m. Maryland SoccerPlex
Sunday, May 12 @Chicago Red Stars 3 p.m. Benedictine University Sports Complex
Thursday, May 16 SKY BLUE FC 7:30 p.m.  JELD-WEN Field
Sunday, May 19 WASHINGTON SPIRIT 2 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Saturday, May 25 @Seattle Reign FC 7 p.m. Starfire Sports Complex
Saturday, June 1 CHICAGO RED STARS 7:30 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Thursday, June 6 FC KANSAS CITY 7:30 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Sunday, June 16 SEATTLE REIGN FC 2 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Saturday, June 22 @Sky Blue FC 4 p.m. Yurcak Field
Sunday, June 30 @FC Kansas City 1:10 p.m. Shawnee Mission District Stadium
Saturday, July 6 BOSTON BREAKERS 7:30 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Sunday, July 14 WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH 2 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Sunday, July 21 @Boston Breakers 1 p.m. Dilboy Stadium
Sunday, July 28 CHICAGO RED STARS 2 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Wednesday, July 31 SKY BLUE FC 7:30 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Sunday, Aug. 4 FC KANSAS CITY 2 p.m. JELD-WEN Field
Wednesday, Aug. 7 @Boston Breakers 4 p.m. Dilboy Stadium
Saturday, Aug. 10 @Western New York Flash 4:35 p.m. Sahlen’s Stadium
Saturday, Aug. 17 @Seattle Reign FC 8 p.m. Starfire Sports Complex

Soccervision

It’s long been accepted wisdom, in the UK at least, that Americans don’t get football, and most likely won’t ever get it. They’d much rather watch hillbillies drive round in circles for hours on end, or padded freaks of nature crash into each other than enjoy the sport that the rest of the world recognises as the beautiful game.

It wasn’t for for the likes of them.

Except that in my brief stay over here it’s already clear that there is a growing proportion of American sports fans that are turning on to football. Literally.

This past weekend saw every single match on the closing day of the Premier League season screened live across Fox’s network of sports channels and ESPN, in an event called “Survival Sunday”.

This unprecedented event follows strong ratings for matches, with ESPN recording over a million viewers for the recent Manchester derby, while competitions like the Champions League also consistently draw high ratings.

It’s all the more remarkable when you consider that most of these matches – the Champions League group stages in particular – will take place during weekday afternoons. Many Premier League matches kick off in early morning for West Coast based footy fans.

They’re not prime time events, yet the fans know what they want, and are willing to seek it out, and the television networks have taken note. Make no mistake, if football wasn’t a big draw, Fox wouldn’t give it a second glance, yet it even has a dedicated soccer channel.

The breadth of choice for the football fan in the States is staggering. Coming from a country where live coverage of much of the sport is in the iron grip of vastly overpriced subscription channels, it really is a breath of fresh air.

And it’s really not that surprising. The sport is growing in popularity all the time. It’s the most popular team sport for under 13s, and 60% of soccer players are under the age of 18. It’s this new generation of football fans that will continue the sport’s rapid growth, as their love affair with soccer blossoms.

The missing link is in the domestic game. Attendance at MLS matches continues to grow thanks in large part to some very smart expansions in recent years – the end of the 2011 season saw MLS rise to 3rd in average attendance at professional sports, behind NFL and MLB. Yet, the television ratings still disappoint. Only 70,000 tuned in to a recent New York vs New England match, and it’s a rare event that sees the ratings nudge towards 500,000.

It could be a snobbishness towards MLS, considering it an inferior product, that lies behind some of the ratings disparity. Perhaps it’s the (relative) lack of history or drama that the final day of the Premier League season threw up, or the major European competitions regularly do.

While MLS is clearly not on the level of a Premier League or La Liga in terms of overall quality, the football is improving all the time. It is, however, difficult to increase quality greatly when a career in soccer can’t yet offer the same financial rewards to those kids playing the game that other major American sports can.

The average salary of even the NHL is over $1.3 million, a figure only a select few can hope to earn playing Major League Soccer. The average salary of NBA players dwarves even that of an MLS teams entire salary cap. This bleeding of talent from the game lowers the pool available to MLS clubs, though they may hope to plug this leak with the development of youth academies that will funnel the best players to the top.

Growing the sport at the grassroots, and bringing through fresh, exciting local talent will help to turn eyes towards the league. Tapping urban areas for the kinds of players that are largely lost to soccer will also be key to increasing the sports broad appeal.

But it shouldn’t be an either-or situation for football fans in the States. MLS and European or South American football can happily co-exist and even compliment each other as anyone who has followed Clint Dempsey’s career from MLS to Premier League could testify.

There is still a resistance to soccer among many American sports fans, but there’s been a shift in recent years away from trying to court these casual fans to the game. This older generation are not the market that soccer is aiming for any more, and it’s allowed MLS in particular to be more focussed on delivering a strong product to those that already love the game, but haven’t yet fallen in love with the American flavour of soccer.

The outlets are certainly there as the big sports broadcasters in the States have all awoken over the past few years to the huge potential of football. Advertisers clearly see value in placing their ads during shows, and footballers such as Lionel Messi, Frank Lampard and Sergio Aguero are seen as viable ambassadors for brands like Pepsi across even non-soccer specific channels.

This summer will see every match of the European Championship broadcast by ESPN, with over 200 hours of coverage dedicated to the event, as well as the continued coverage of MLS who may hope for a ratings bump as a result.

More people are playing it. More people are going to matches. More people are tuning in.

It’s safe to say soccer is here, and it’s here to stay.

Viva la Fútbol

Major League Soccer – The Past, Present and Future.

2012 is a landmark year for American soccer. It marks Major League Soccer’s 17th season since its inception in 1996 – equalling that of the glamorous North American Soccer League of Pele, Bobby Moore and George Best fame which ran from 1968 till it’s ignominious collapse in 1984. Continue reading Major League Soccer – The Past, Present and Future.