Tag Archives: Women’s 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:

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.

Meet Thorns FC’s Emilee O’Neil

At times it may be an overused cliche, but in the case of Portland Thorns FC thirty-year-old defender Emilee O’Neil, timing really is everything.

When O’Neil signed as a discover player with Thorns FC on April 5, it was the culmination of a lifelong dream of being a professional soccer player.

Not many thirty-year-olds can say that and when I talked with O’Neil on Friday, you could tell she was still just soaking up the entire experience.

“The organization here has made this experience so professional. Players who have played in the previous leagues have said Portland has been the most professional by far. It’s been awesome,” said O’Neil.

O’Neil missed out on the first top-tier women’s professional league, WUSA, as she was still playing for Stanford University where she was a four-year player from 2001-2004. By the time she graduated in 2005, WUSA had folded.

When the second professional league, WPS, kicked off in 2009, O’Neil had gone over 4 years without playing in a competitive environment. She had played pick up and was active in coaching youth soccer, but she still shied away from taking a chance at playing in WPS. For O’Neil, It just seemed like she had been away from the game too long.

Yet again though, timing played a key role in O’Neil rediscovering her love for the competitive nature of the game.

When she became a full-time graduate student, O’Neill decided to try out for the Bay Area Breeze in the W-League. She made the team and after a seven year absence from competitive soccer, she completed her first professional season last year with the Bay Area Breeze.

After getting reintroduced to the competitive atmosphere of a professional team, O’Neil was hooked.

“It was more fun than I expected and because it was such a good experience, I was reminded of my passion for playing at that level,” said O’Neil.

Timing was again in her favor in November when the announcement for the new women’s professional league was released. At the time, O’Neil was preparing to finish up her graduate degree in graphic design in December.

“My dad and my husband, Michael, both really gave me the confidence to give it a shot. So I decided I’m not going to regret not trying so I just went for it,” said O’Neil.

After making the commitment to give NWSL a shot, O’Neil decided that Portland was an obvious choice for where she wanted to play. Her husband is from southern Oregon and he has a brother in Bend. O’Neil’s brother lives in Portland.

But it wasn’t just because of family that O’Neil had her eyes set on Portland.

“I knew from the beginning that Portland would be a great city for a team because of the atmosphere and the Timbers in MLS so it was really the only team I pursued playing for,” said O’Neil.

I couldn’t help laughing when O’Neil told me what she did next.

“I went to the website and called the office and asked if I could speak with Cindy Parlow-Cone. She hadn’t even moved to Portland yet but I was able to eventually get a hold of her and tell her my story,” said O’Neil.

O’Neil played centerback and outside back for Stanford University and featured mainly at centerback last season for the Bay Area Breeze. O’Neil says she’s comfortable playing anywhere on the backline. With the small rosters in NWSL, O’Neil’s versatility will definitely be in her favor. O’Neil’s speed, technical ability and composure on the ball also make her a good fit within what coach Cindy Parlow-Cone wants to do on the pitch.

Against FC Kansas City, O’Neil saw her first action as a Portland Thorns FC player coming off the bench in the 61st minute and playing left back.

When asked about her time so far with Portland, O’Neil broke into a huge smile when talking.

“This whole process has been so surreal…so amazing. I’m so thankful for this opportunity. The coaches, my teammates, everything has been so great since I’ve been here,” said O’Neil.

You can reach out and follow Emilee O’Neil’s season on Twitter at: @EmileeONeil

emileeoniel

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 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

The unveiling begins

While Thursday is slated as the official announcement of the the Portland women’s soccer team name and logo, the Portland Timbers are providing fans some clues on their Facebook page.

Here are the first three clues:

logoclue1

logoclue2

logoclue3

I love how the unveiling includes young girls from  Girls Inc. of NW Oregon holding the pieces of the new logo. Kudos to the Portland organization on involving the local community in not only the logo design itself, but especially involving these youth in the unveiling.

Girls Inc. of NW Oregon is partner in the Portland Timbers Stand Together program. Their mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through life-changing programs and experiences that help girls navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

To follow the clues, visit the Timbers Facebook at: www.facebook.com/portlandtimbers