Thorns FC: Silly, pending

The Portland Thorns organization held a press conference today to inform the Thorns’ supporters and Portland at large that “…coach Paul Riley is out of contract and it is unclear whether he will be back next season.”

RileyWhich I could have told you when the final whistle blew in Rochester last Friday.  Sheesh.

The Thorns’ silly season is upon us, but the silly is on hold, apparently until sometime next month.  Until then the question of #RileyOut versus #RileyBackIn is unresolved.

I’ve gone back and forth on this for a long time and I have finally come down on the #RileyOut side.  Bear with me while I explain.

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Thorns FC: Left Behind

In the previous post I mentioned that we’re now entering into the “second” part of the three-part 2015 NWSL season, the part where all the allocated players are raptured to Canada and the league continues with those Left Behind and a band of plucky amateurs called up to fill in the ranks.  This middle phase of the campaign looks to be an exciting but dangerous time, when reconfigured teams and the odd gap-filled schedule might produce anything from confused disasters to unexpected benefits.  Whatever the effects, certainly the prospects are worth discussing.  So…lets!


First; which teams are likely to get hurt the worst by the World Cup Interregnum?

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Thorns FC: End of the Beginning

I can’t think of an image that does better work defining last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with the Washington Spirit than this one; Allie Long lying on the Portland turf with her head in her hands, wondering how in hell she gets stoned by Spirit ‘keeper Kelsie Wys on a ludicrously poor spot-kick off a ridiculously soft PK at 66’ that might have gifted all three points for the then-league-leaders.

Ali misses

The entire match was as easily as frustrating as Long’s easily-saved spot kick.  Needing a win to stay top of the table, how could Portland find a way to get no better than a single point, at home, against a team that has proven to be highly beatable?

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Thorns FC: Pressed to draw

I’m going to be contrary.

I’m going to disagree with what seems to be the mass of opinion on Thorns FC’s 2-2 away draw to the Chicago Red Stars.  I’m sorry, but I don’t think the team “earned” the away point.  I didn’t see any “heroics”.

Yes, we’re undefeated.  Yes, we nicked the away point.  That’s fine.  And while I liked that the team showed fight and clawed two back after gifting Christen Press two goals within eight minutes – the 2013 and 2014 Thorns showed a distressing tendency to panic and fall apart when hit hard early – giving away those goals in the first place suggests that the team wasn’t well prepared and wasn’t mentally focused when they ran out in Chicago.


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Complementary Medicine: Nagbe & Valeri

When the ball dropped to Darlington Nagbe, in space forty-five yards from goal with twelve minutes or so left on the clock, the midfielder was of a singular mind: he was going to run with the ball, right at the heart of the New York City defense. And so, his head up and focus dead ahead, Nagbe ran. Within seconds, five light blue shirts had swarmed him. Finding his path to the box blocked, the move looked over, but Nagbe was not ready to give it up so easily. With one final lunge, he successfully nicked the ball off the toe of a defender and into the path of a teammate. Before New York City could properly adjust to this change in dynamic, the ball had already arced over their goalkeeper who’d been wrong-footed and grounded by a crucial deflection. Nagbe had not scored the goal, nor would he be officially awarded the assist, but it’s hard to see how the deadlock would ever have been broken without him in a game that was otherwise unfolding in a wearingly familiar manner.

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