It was only almost a week – but it seems like almost an eon – ago that Thorns FC put a lickin’ on FCKC through intelligent, aggressive attack and swarming defense.
Three days later the team traveled north to Seattle and, it seems, completely forgot how to do all that.
It wasn’t just the stadium clock that made time seem to run in 86-second minutes. The Thorns looked slow, too; slow, predictable, and, most damningly, thoroughly beatable from the start and were, 2-nil.
In all of recorded human history there are three classic blunders.
Getting involved in a land war in Asia.
Going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
And making Christine Sinclair mad.
The weekend before last Thorns FC struggled through a tough loss. Defensive lapses, scoring difficulties, and an…unhelpful, shall we say?…center referee handed the team a real stinker of a home defeat.
When it’s tough at home, what’s a team to do?
Unfortunately, sometimes even those turn out…suboptimally.
I wanted to post this just because I thought you readers might be interested in seeing behind the scenes of the glamorous soccer-blogging lifestyle. It’s not just hanging out with the players in trendy nightclubs or hob-nobbing with the wealthy owners.
Sometimes it’s all about the boring, dry stats, baby. Stuff like this:
That’s from the OPTA stats on the Timber’s match against San Jose back in early June.
OPTA has tons of this sort of great stuff; heat maps, player actions, average team position…while I won’t pretend that “stats tell the story” it helps to get a big picture of a team or a player’s actions, successful or otherwise, to get some sort of sense beyond just your feeling “Gee, seems like Kat Reynolds is getting beat a lot” or “Is Chara pushing up more in the second half, or an I just seeing him more there than when he drops deep?”
As you know, I’ve been using Richard Hamje’s “plus-minus” ratings this season to try and give you a sense of what the Thorns are doing on the pitch.
Actually, I keep more notes that I give you here; the basic numerical PMRs are just the Clif’s Notes version, the digested form, if you will.
(I have no idea whether you care about how I do this, but I’ve come this far so bear with me for a moment and I’ll tell you what goes into these little bunches of numbers.
So far this season Thorns FC and Sky Blue FC have played four halves of soccer. The aggregate score is 3-3. But there are halves, and there are halves, and, unfortunately for PTFC the Joisey Goils have had the better of three of the four.
Almost two weeks ago Thorns FC nicked an away win at Sky Blue by hanging on through a brutally ugly second half on strength of A.D. Franch going into Insane Keeper Brute Mode and the inability of SBFC to find the location of the big rectangular frame with the net thingie inside it.
Last Saturday it was Portland’s turn to lose track of that goal thingie, and Sky Blue’s turn to deal out the punishment.
With some help from the Man in Black.
When last seen by the Portland Thorns, referee Marco Vega was lolling about the pitch letting the Western New York Flash get away with what, had they done it at a MAX station instead of inside Providence Park, would have been aggravated assault and battery.
He showed the same disinterest in punishing brutal play in his stroll about the Rutgers pitch in New Jersey this past weekend (why the hell was Kayla Mills still on the pitch after her pithecanthropicene tackle on Horan in the 53rd minute, Marco..?) and it was only the luck of the soccer gods that prevented a hockey game from breaking out.
The good news is that the Thorns both survived, and got all three points on the road.
The bad news is…well, let’s talk about the good news first.
Last week I predicted that Saturday’s home game against the Boston Breakers was likely to come down to which head coach had best learned the lessons offered by the 2-2 draw in Boston and had best planned for the rematch.
Then between 7:00 and 7:05pm Pacific Daylight Time Amandine Henry created two goals and whatever Matt Beard had learned and planned went completely to hell.
The saying goes that there are draws that feel like losses and there are draws that feel like wins.
The 2-2 draw in Boston this past Friday felt very much like a win to me.