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.
Sometimes we don’t always win two-to-one. Turns out, sometimes the Bad Girls win two-to-one.
As the visiting Kansas City Blues proved in a brutally efficient fashion last Saturday night.
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.
The Joisey Goils are probably already on their way west while the Thorns’ US players are heading east. Tomorrow we’ll see what happens when our Left Behind Girls in Red get stuck into a Sky Blue that has been looking much more dangerous in the past several weeks than they did back in April.
But that’s not that I wanted to talk about right now. I want to talk about the noise from the North End.
The Riveters signature red smoke to celebrate Portland’s goal.
Remember how last weekend I said that the Thorns’ 2016 “undefeated” run wasn’t entirely convincing, seeing as how the team had only looked really overpowering in one match, the home win over Washington back in May?
Okay, well THAT bullstuff’s over with.
In the space of four days Thorns FC took six points off two games. First they seized the then-league-leading Red Stars by the throat and beat them handily 2-nil to go top of table and announce that, halfway though the season, they are going to come at the rest of the league. Then they traveled to the fever-swamp of Orlando’s “Citrus Bowl” and overcame the heat, humidity, hostile crowd, and a 67′ Jasmyne Spencer goal to win 2-1.
That was the final whistle in Chicago;
The Thorns came out pressing hard and pressuring the Red Stars’ midfield and backline and were rewarded with a ridiculous gift of a goal in the 24th minute. Under some fairly mild pressure Chicago’s Sam Johnson blooped a lazy backpass with Christine Sinclair running hard in on Naeher. Naeher panicked much like Labbe’ panicked when Nadim closed her down and with much the same result; Naeher’s frantic clear just bounced off the Birthday Girl and into the net.
Crap goal #1, one-nil Portland. But…
In his match report on Thorns FC’s home draw with the Seattle Reign, the Greek sportswriter Thuycidides said: “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
Okay, no. That’s about war, and this is soccer; this is much, much more important than that.
This past Sunday the Thorns, weakened by the loss of their US National Team players, proved ol’ Thucy’s point and suffered a barren draw against a “stronger” Seattle side that by rights should have come away with three points. The Reign outplayed the Thorns, looked by far the more organized and dangerous side – no surprise, given the makeshift nature of the Portland XI – but suffered their own weakness; finishing. They had the match for the taking…and couldn’t take it.