When last seen by the Portland Thorns, referee Marco Vega was lolling about the pitch letting the Western New York Flash get away with what, had they done it at a MAX station instead of inside Providence Park, would have been aggravated assault and battery.
He showed the same disinterest in punishing brutal play in his stroll about the Rutgers pitch in New Jersey this past weekend (why the hell was Kayla Mills still on the pitch after her pithecanthropicene tackle on Horan in the 53rd minute, Marco..?) and it was only the luck of the soccer gods that prevented a hockey game from breaking out.
The good news is that the Thorns both survived, and got all three points on the road.
The bad news is…well, let’s talk about the good news first.
Last week I predicted that Saturday’s home game against the Boston Breakers was likely to come down to which head coach had best learned the lessons offered by the 2-2 draw in Boston and had best planned for the rematch.
Then between 7:00 and 7:05pm Pacific Daylight Time Amandine Henry created two goals and whatever Matt Beard had learned and planned went completely to hell.
The saying goes that there are draws that feel like losses and there are draws that feel like wins.
The 2-2 draw in Boston this past Friday felt very much like a win to me.
The limitations of my current work finally caught up with me.
I’m stuck out in the hinterlands of rural upstate New York working 14-hours-plus a day on a big dam reconstruction job and housed in a rental house in the little town of Middleburgh. And last Thursday the cable company finally caught up with me and turned off the cable and internet.
It’s a long story. Suffice to say it took me until yesterday and today to view Thorns FC’s scoreless draw in Kansas City. Before then I’d heard more than a little about the match, so actually viewing (most of) it surprised me.
Last Saturday Thorns FC managed to steal two points from the Seattle Reign on a late Allie Long header and a Jess Fishlock own goal.
The match was a game of two halves, with one common theme. Ugly. Ugly fouling, ugly play, ugly tempers…it was just ugly all over.
After the dispiriting loss in North Carolina and still struggling with injuries to some of the most critical pieces of the team – Heath, Klingenberg, Reynolds…) Thorns FC needed a result last Saturday against the visiting Chicago Red Stars.
Thanks to a fortuitous penalty and some ferocious goalkeeping from A.D. Franch Portland nicked all three points to move up into a second-place tie with Boston.
The result was good. The means to get to it…well, let’s talk about that after the jump.
23. Generic term to give grief
Scouse saying: Down the banks, doing my head in, wrecking my head.
Usage: ‘This beaut was doing my head in so I gave him down the banks, like.’
Paul Riley is becoming Thorns FC’s kryptonite, and his North Carolina Courage used his plan on PTFC like a bucket of the green stuff Saturday. It worked, knocking our club down to 1-1-0 (tied with FCKC for third on the table) with a 1-nil away loss that was a complete team-and-coach effort…on both sides.
Last season Thorns FC opened the 2016 campaign with a 2-1 win over Orlando in the home opener. That win was the first in a season that brought a Supporters’ Shield to the Rose City for the first time since the Timbers won the USL in 2009.
This past Saturday Thorns FC repeated their home opener win over the very same team by very nearly the same score; in this case, 2-nil. But I’m not sure that the wins are really that similar and it’s my opinion that this one is telling us that the 2017 Thorns still have some growing to do.
Beginning with some very obvious growing pains in the backline.