…with the retirement of defender Kat Williamson…
…and the LCL surgery of Nadia Nadim.
Last Sunday afternoon Thorns FC won the NWSL Shield for the first time in their short history.
A convincing 1-3 away win over the Joisey Goils of Sky Blue – combined with a 3-1 Chicago demolition of the Washington Spirit – brought the only piece of NWSL silverware Thorns FC had not yet won home to Portland.
But, since this is Portland and, thus, incapable of doing things the easy way, first the visitors had to hand a gift goal to the home side.
But before we go on…let’s set the scene for Sunday.
As noted above, Chicago had whipped Washington the day before, leaving the Spirit a single point above Portland on the league table, so – with the win here in July giving Portland the tiebreaker – a draw or a win in Jersey would bring the Shield to Portland.
On the other hand…
Western New York’s beatdown of the lowly Breakers meant that a win in Jersey would also bring the Flash here this coming weekend for the semifinal. That seemed…less than suboptimal, to me, anyway.
Tanking the Sky Blue match seemed inconceivable. And yet…the notion of playing Chicago rather than Rochester in the semifinal seemed like such a…nicer option. So when I dropped into Bazi Bierbrasserie on the sunny Sunday afternoon I was honestly torn.
The good news is that the Thorns will be getting all of their internationals back except for Christine Sinclair (who plays for bronze this coming Friday). The…well, I won’t pretend that it’s “bad news”. For me, anyway.
And you know what that is.
Last Friday, after two straight losses and a bye weekend coming on, things looked pretty grim for Thorns FC.
Still top of table…but even with the Washington Spirit (who had two games in hand) on points and just a point ahead of the Western New York Flash (who had a game in hand). The bye-weekend looked like a potential disaster, and a tumble from first to third and out of contention for a home semifinal. I won’t kid you; I opened the NWSL website Sunday morning with a heavy heart.
Or, at least, that seems to have been how it has worked over the last couple of matches.
Go down a goal early. Scratch back into the match. Score the gamewinner late. Worked like a mechanical ass-kicker against Orlando in Orlando, and it worked just fine against Sky Blue FC here last Saturday.
From the typically-shaky Western New York Flash video feed it looked like Thorns FC’s 2-nil road win was witnessed by a handful of random strangers.
I don’t “like” the Flash (probably a hangover from the time when Abby “This is me and this over here is my ginormous ego” Wambach was the face of the Rochester Rhinoettes) but they’ve been a power in women’s soccer a long time. Drawing barely over 2,000 for a match between two of the league leaders? That’s kind of…lonely.
I always hate it when the person telling you this asks: “Which one do you want first?”
I’ll give you the good news: that’s Amandine Henry there on the left and that’s her U.S. visa in her hand.
That’s right; out long-awaited defensive midfielder is arriving in Portland most quick smart.
To clear a roster spot for Henry Kendall Johnson has been moved to the DL; she’s listed as “not medically cleared” on the 6/10 list. That clears up who’s going to get shifted to make room.
(Selfishly – since for all that I hammered on her pretty hard here last week – I was fairly sure that if the Front Office decided to waive someone (or trade someone for draft picks/international slots) that Mana Shim would pick the black marble. I’m glad she didn’t. But, still…c’mon, Mana. We need to see some Marta from you, girlfriend.)
My next question is; how are the Thorns going to look this coming Friday?