Thorns FC: Second Intermission

USWNT Swe Rio

In the words of MayaTye over at Stumptown Footy…gee, that really worked well, didn’t it..?

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.

In case you’ve been living in a cave cut off from all electronic media the USWNT got dumped from the Junior Miss World Cup Tournament and Nationalism Rodeo by a Swedish team that played a hell of an effective, cynical defend-and-counter game and eventually went through on penalties.

I’m glad none of our Thorns got hurt.  I’m not sorry to see the USWNT out; Coach Ellis and the USSF’s disregard for my club soured me on this silly World-Cup-Redux long before the quarterfinal booting.

I’m sorry for Allie Long, though.

She worked her tail off to finally make the Nats and get a slot to Rio and is coming home with nothing but a bagful of sweaty kit.  Lindsey Horan and Emily Sonnett will be back for the next WC, and this wasn’t Tobin and Kling’s first goat-rodeo.

But for Allie, well…this is it.  She’s done; she’ll be too old for the 2019 World Cup, and what has she to show for all that work..?

The quarterfinal…what can you really say?  For all that Sundhage’s ugly-ass bunkering worked it really shouldn’t have.  The U.S. took the worst possible approach to breaking it down – important safety tip, Jill; if Abbyball wasn’t working at the end of Abby’s career when Abby was still lumbering around about as mobile as a huge unmoving Tor, it sure as hell doesn’t work when Abby’s not even fricking there – and still had multiple half-chances the were utterly wasted.

My issue was really with 1) Ellis subs…you park Tobin at RB, sub in Rapinoe (who was struggling) – sub OUT Rapinoe for Press (who’s been struggling) and keep Heath parked with Krieger still on the bench..?  WTF???

…and 2) her choices for the PKs. No Heath? Press over…well, almost anyone (I’m not a Press hater, but she’s been having issues performing under pressure…).  Morgan…well, that was just bad luck.

But, c’mon.

Now I’ll really be frustrated if USSF puts on a March of the Tomato Cans “Knocked out in the Quarterfinal is Sorta Like Victory” Tour.

The other ugly piece of business is that, dammit, Sundhage’s cynical tactics are working like sauce on a Swedish meatball.  This week the Swedes took Brazil to PKs and knocked them out, too.  It’s up to Germany to drop Die Mutter von allen Bomben on the Swedish bunker and blow it to flinders for the Good People of the Soccer Earth.

Seeing Sundhage wearing a gold medal for making the Beautiful Game ugly would just really piss me off.

Christine Sinclair is the only Thorn still playing, if only for bronze, but who might not be if the referee for the France match in the quarters had been as diligent as the one for the Germany match.  Herdman had been juggling nitroglycerine with his gal Buchanan and it was only a matter of when, not if, she got blown up for her thuggish play.  She should have been earlier, for her brutality against Le Sommer in the quarterfinal.  Instead she gifted Germany a PK in the semi and put her team out of gold medal contention.

Well done, Kadeisha and sorry, Christine.  I had hoped you’d come home with gold, if only because you’ve lugged your team around on your back like Atlas in a sports bra for years.

Now we can look ahead to the end of the NWSL season.

Portland is tied with Washington on 29 points but ahead on the first tiebreaker (head-to-head).  Washington will have a game in hand until this Thursday when they play a surprisingly frisky Houston.

C’mon, you Dash.

Thorns FC has about ten days to get ready for Seattle away 8/27.  I think that is a winnable match, but I also think that it’s difficult to predict what we’ll see, or who.

To my way of thinking at least one of the “little Thorns” – Hayley Raso – has earned a starting spot regardless of the condition of the internationals.  I know the team will benefit from Sonnett’s return to the backline, Allie, Tobin and Henry to the midfield, and Kling to fullback, but I think it’s worth considering Raso with Sinc at the top.  Allie at ACM, Tobin and Horan on the flanks, Henry at DCM with Kling, Menges, Sonnett and…hmmm.

Right back may be a problem.  Weber?  She did well enough there against Seattle.  Maybe.  We’ll have to see.

If the traveling Riveters don’t roar ZI! KA! every time Hope Solo touches the ball I’ll be heartbroken.

After that it’s really simple; the Thorns need to beat Boston and Houston here and Sky Blue away.  They need to hold Western New York to no worse than a home draw or, obviously better, take all three points.  All of those are very possible.

But, as Pia Sundhage showed the Nats and the world, sometimes the right tactics can make it very, very difficult to make the possible into the real.