Thorns FC emerged from Yurcak Field with a 54% advantage in time of possession over Sky Blue FC, holding onto the ball for almost 60% of the second half. The two teams both made about 300 passes in the course of the match with Sky Blue holding only a slight advantage in completion, 90% to 84% for Portland. Of Portland’s 10 shots five were on frame, while only three of Sky Blue’s 11 were aimed between the posts. From the stats you’d suspect that the visitors nicked a road point; a 1-1 draw, perhaps, or a scoreless game dominated by scrappy defending, given that both teams were in double digits on fouls?
That’s where you’d reckon without Sam Kerr.
The Australian forward linked up with her Aussie teammate Caitlin Foord, and with Nadia Nadim, and Taylor Lytle to bedevil the Thorns all match. Kerr linked up with Maya Hayes to score the only goal of the match and that was pretty much it; Sky Blue’s attack flowed through Kerr, who got open repeatedly, while Portland’s tried to go through Long, Shim, and Ayo, who didn’t.
After the longest string of unsuccessful results in club history Thorns FC finally took all three points from Sky Blue last Friday evening, winning 2-1 on a Long penalty conversion and a lovely Farrelly header off a cross from Alyssa Kleiner.
Not that the match was without hazard. The Joisey Goils went up early on a 27′ goal by Katy Freels, whose run froze the backline and produced a halting charge from Michelle Betos who ended up stranded helpless on her own 10-yard line as Freel’s chip looped over her head.
That was a hell of 95th minute, wasn’t it?
Michelle Betos’ improbable, wonderful equalizer – at 94:52, in case you were counting – was such a delightful shock that it made what otherwise would have been yet another doleful draw in Portland’s now-up-to-seven-game-winless-streak seem almost like a win.
Third defeat in a row…for only the second time in the Thorns three-season history.
First loss to Washington, and the second straight on the road. First Thorns goal scored in three matches, going back to the May 9 2-2 home draw with…the Washington Spirit.
What the hell is happening to the 2015 Thorns, and how does it stop?
Y’ever have one of those days? You leave the house having patted your pockets and checked the dresser and looked everywhere to make sure you didn’t forget anything and halfway to work realize your cell phone is on the charger by the microwave? You drive slowly and carefully through your neighborhood stopping at every uncontrolled intersection and a block from your house get t-boned by some moron speeding HUA through the stop sign? Pour over your tax return endlessly to be hit with a thousand-dollar penalty? Walk slowly across the room only to trip on something too small to see?
Then you probably know what the Thorns and Coach Riley feel like today.
The Thorns played 90+ minutes of what would normally have been outstanding soccer – match-winning soccer – against the visiting Houston Dash. Everything I’ve complained about the last two matches? Fixed, by and large. Solid defending – no real derps or individual gaffes. Terrific attack – when you outshoot your opponent 18-4, put 11 of those shots on goal, earn 11 corners to three, you’re gonna paste those poor wenches all over the Park, right?
Gee…it seems like just last week we were here talking about the second part of the three-part NWSL season, and I seem to recall I said something like…something…hmmm…what was that again? Oh, yes. This.
“If the Portland defense can avoid the mental vacations that shipped four goals in Chicago and against Washington and the Long-Shim Axis can keep producing this should be three points on the road.”
And what were we talking about? Oh, yeah. This.
The away match at Boston this past weekend? The one Thorns FC lost because the defense that had kept Boston out of the goal for 92+ minutes had a horrendous Moment of Utter Defensive Derpitude in the 93rd and gifted Kristie Mewis a soft goal?
In the previous post I mentioned that we’re now entering into the “second” part of the three-part 2015 NWSL season, the part where all the allocated players are raptured to Canada and the league continues with those Left Behind and a band of plucky amateurs called up to fill in the ranks. This middle phase of the campaign looks to be an exciting but dangerous time, when reconfigured teams and the odd gap-filled schedule might produce anything from confused disasters to unexpected benefits. Whatever the effects, certainly the prospects are worth discussing. So…lets!
First; which teams are likely to get hurt the worst by the World Cup Interregnum?
I can’t think of an image that does better work defining last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with the Washington Spirit than this one; Allie Long lying on the Portland turf with her head in her hands, wondering how in hell she gets stoned by Spirit ‘keeper Kelsie Wys on a ludicrously poor spot-kick off a ridiculously soft PK at 66’ that might have gifted all three points for the then-league-leaders.
The entire match was as easily as frustrating as Long’s easily-saved spot kick. Needing a win to stay top of the table, how could Portland find a way to get no better than a single point, at home, against a team that has proven to be highly beatable?