Early in the first half of Wednesday’s Houston match the Providence Park screen announced that due to the efforts of the Washington Spirit (defeating Seattle 2-1) the Portland Thorns had clinched a playoff position for the first time since 2014.
It’s pleasing to report that this news appeared to interest the team on the field not a whit.
Thorns FC went about their business and whipped the blue-and-orange visitors off the pitch 3-nil between excellent team (and individual) defending, an Allie Long brace, and two fairly appalling Lydia Williams goalkeeping howlers.
In January of 1842 a British army of some 4,000 infantry, cavalry and artillery began a forced march from the Afghan city of Kabul. A handful of survivors reached British India; the remainder of the entire column was killed or taken prisoner.
This past Sunday the unfortunate Boston Breakers discovered in the person of Nadia Nadim why Afghanistan is often referred to as “The Graveyard of Empires”.
The Thorns forward’s hat trick was one of the highlights of a 5-1 demolition of the visitors. The scoreline suggests domination…but the match wasn’t quite that simple.
I wanted to take a midweek moment to tip my hat to one of Portland’s newsweeklies.
This week’s issue of Willamette Week is stuffed full of Thorns goodies; a long piece on the relationship between the team and the fans, interviews with the returning Zika Death Squad, and a terrific profile of Nadia Nadim, our Heroine of Herat.
I will quibble briefly with the graf from the long piece that insists that the fans’ love for the team “…has grown stronger, even when the team’s performance has gotten weaker.”
Ummm…are we talking about the same Thorns FC here? The one with the Magic Number of 7? The one currently sitting solidly in second place in the league, still holding the pass to a home semfinal? The one holding the head-to-head wins tiebreaker over Washington, Western New York, and Chicago?
Ahem. Excuse me. Sorry. Kinda lost it there for a moment.
Anyway, I confess to having a certain prejudice against the Willy Week; normally they hardly ever write about soccer. But this week? It’s a WW Thornstravaganza! So, yay, Willy Week!
After three tries the Seattle Reign finally took three points off of Thorns FC at Memorial Stadium last Saturday, evening the season series at 1-1-2.
Now…we’re winless there but Seattle hasn’t won in our house this season, either. And the 3-1 scoreline flatters the hosts a trifle. The second Reign goal was the result of a horrendous individual error by Emily Sonnett and the third was a garbage-time Rapinoe strike as the Thorns pushed up to try and wring out an equalizer. So this wasn’t some sort of tire-fire like the mess in Houston.
The story of this loss wasn’t a team-wide collapse but more a matter of several Thorns having individual Off Days.
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.
It was probably a very cold day in January of 1988 when Nadia Nadim was born in the Afghan city of Herat, in the middle of a vicious war that had been going on for eight years.
That she and her family escaped after her father’s murder is something of a miracle. That from that beginning she grew strong and quick in Denmark to become a professional soccer player is also something of a miracle. Her journey to Portland, to the Thorns, might well be a miracle as well, though perhaps a shadowed miracle, one full of struggle and not without heartache.
Then, this past Saturday night, the young woman from Herat worked another, very different, very public sort of miracle.
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.
Not many other ways to describe a 3-nil whipping, are there?
The Girls in Red went to Houston and the second-worst team in the NWSL handed them their collective asses.