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.
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.
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.
At 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?
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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?