Thorns FC: Notes from the Underwhelmed

The Portland Thorns dropped their first preseason match of 2016 to Seattle 0-2 this afternoon.

Kling

The match was about what you’d expect of three weeks before the beginning of the season; a rough and generally unformed piece of work from which it is difficult to either generalize or predict.  Instead, I made some notes during the match and will provide them for discussion.

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Thorns FC: Dodgy Keeper? Adrianna Franch and the Avaldsnes Vortex

I’m kidding.Franch 2013

At least…in 2013 Adrianna Franch was anything BUT a dodgy keeper.  She led the Western New York Flash to the title match, led the league in saves with 98 and tied for third with KK in keeping 7 clean sheets.

However, she lost all of 2014 to a bad ACL tear, and then signed with Avaldsnes IL of the Norwegian Topserien in 2015.

Now she is the newest Portland Thorns player and challenging Michelle Betos for the starting ‘keeper slot.

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Thorns FC: Goalkeeper of the year?

Perhaps the single bright spot in Thorns FC’s dark year was the endearing season of goalkeeper Michelle Betos.  Pulled into the starting position to fill in for the former FIFA Player of the Year, Michelle played bravely and was, of course, one of the “stories of the year” with her late-game headed equalizer against FCKC.

She was, and is, a spark, and (from all appearances) a great teammate, and genuinely good person.  Her reaction to being named the Rose City Riveters “Player of the Year” was an complete and utter delight.

Betos POTY

Now, to add to her I-love-me wall, she is the NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year for 2015.

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Thorns FC: Per astra ad aspera

I’m terribly late in posting about Thorns FC’s 2-1 win over the visiting Red Stars last Sunday night.  Long with the brace, Betos with a couple of good saves (and a bizarre concession on a Mautz shoss…) and a solid half hour from our newest Thorn, Lianne Sanderson…and if you’re a fan you know what the high points were.  Third win in a row pushing PTFC up into a virtual tie with FCKC for the final playoff spot.

Sanderson

And speaking of KC, the Thorns play at Swope tomorrow, so there’s no more time for me to review the match in detail.  Instead, let me breeze through a positively Six-degree-esque rundown of some of my observations before we settle in to watch the away match…

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Thorns FC: Five for Two

I don’t want to refine too much on Wednesday’s 5-2 beatdown of the Boston Breakers.  Boston is…well, let’s just say that Portland needed to play them some Boston right now.  Last night’s match was the soccer equivalent of those tomato can bouts that Mike Tyson used to fill in his idle time while he was the heavyweight champ back in the late Eighties.Sinc v Boston

But that sort of thing has its risks – you never know when a Buster Douglas will show up.  Between Portland’s competence and Boston’s ineptitude, however, last night looked a lot more like the Marvis Frazier fight.  Jodie Taylor threw a sweet twisting uppercut and McCall Zerboni dropped the hammer and that was that.

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Thorns FC: Wait..!

There may be life in the Thorns’ 2015 season yet! 

Certainly you’d think so if you watched the nifty road win in Rochester Wednesday night.

Sinc in RochesterAt the site of their 2013 Championship win the Thorns broke the three-match losing streak, got their first 2015 road win, got their first win in over three weeks, and their first clean sheet since the scoreless draw in Houston back in early June all in the same match.

How’boutthat?  What the heck happened to the team that looked so adrift and demoralized in Seattle only four days earlier?

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Thorns FC: Scunnered

Well, I really can’t say much about this past Sunday’s 3-nil loss to Seattle other than what the results themselves say.  Out-scored, out-shot, out-hustled, outplayed.

Bad loss.

The 2015 Thorns are all but out of playoff contention and appear to be a team in horrendous disarray.  From a season that would seem to be all but lost how does Portland salvage anything from this crater and what can the team pull from the wreckage?

Riley and Thorns

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Thorns FC: A lot and a Little

The second leg of this series is only four days away.  I think then we’ll get a better idea of how these two teams match up.  But in their first meeting of the season the Seattle Reign did just enough to take all three points away from Providence Park and the more than 20,000 Portland fans who watched the Thorns put on a display of shocking offensive ineptitude.

Heath and Rapinoe

Portland has a lot of women’s soccer fans.  A lot of them showed up to watch the Thorns last night.  What we don’t have is a Little, and she was the difference between sending all those fans home happy and the scoreline last night.

In the fanladen after the match one of the less-disappointed spectators was still excited about the huge crowd.  Another, more cynical, commented: “Yeah, and I’ll bet that ten thousand of them are still wondering what all the fuss was about.”

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