Thorns FC: The Third Time is Enemy Action

The military philosopher Sun Tzu (or perhaps it was von Clausewitz.  Or Napoleon.  One of those guys, anyway…) is supposed to have warned against engaging the same enemy too often because of the danger that repeated contact would allow that enemy to become familiar with and, eventually, master their opponent.

This past weekend I was worried that 1) the third encounter with Thorns FC meant that the Houston Dash might have learned dangerous lessons from the first two, and that 2) the midweek win over Boston meant that the Texans might have figured out how to use Beckie and Hagen to create an effective attack in the absence of Carli Lloyd.

Saturday’s 2-nil home win made it clear that 1) they hadn’t, and 2) they hadn’t.

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Thorns FC: Ten minutes and a free kick

Thorns FC now sits alone in second place on the NWSL table, two points clear of now-third-place Chicago, five behind league-leading Carolina.

Because Saturday evening PTFC had a hell of an opening ten minutes, Chicago couldn’t find the back of the net with a rangefinder and GPS unit, and Emily Sonnett headed ten feet to her right, not eleven.

The week before Thorns FC whipped Houston all over Providence Park.  This weekend?  Well…it was a win on the road, okay?  I’ll take it.

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Thorns FC: Dashed all to pieces

The Portland Thorns last met the Houston Dash about a month ago.  On that hot night in Texas Portland were stymied for an hour and a half; what professional cyclists call un jour sans, a “day without” and only snatched the road point on a second-half-injury-time Lindsey Horan free kick goal.

Last Saturday was also uncomfortably hot but otherwise the match, the teams, and the result were utterly different.

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Thorns FC: Spirited Away

Last weekend Thorns FC came back from a mid-second-half concession to beat the visiting Washington Spirit 2-1.

I really wanted that win to whisper secrets about this Thorns team to me.  I really wanted to use it as insight into whether this is the team that stonewalled Carolina or the team that collapsed in Seattle.  I watched the match in Saturday’s heat and again on the screen in the evening dark looking for clues.  Hints.  Suggestions.

And after all that watching and guessing and thinking?

I still have no idea.

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Thorns FC: Oi! Oi! Oi!

When my metal hip set off the barrier at Gate 3 Saturday morning I had more on my mind than worrying about that usual nuisance.

I was worried about the Thorns’ recent run of poor form going into a match with the league leaders and that that might lead to yet another loss just like this season’s first meeting or, worse, like last season’s semifinal.

I was worried that the center referee’s penchant for letting rough play go would play into the North Carolina Courage’s physical game and get into the Thorns’ heads as it had in the past.

I was worried that a blowout loss might be lights-out for the Thorns’ 2017 season.

When I walked back out that afternoon I was right about one thing; Koroleva sure did let ’em play.  You can argue about whether that’s good or bad.  But that’s how she usually calls her games, and she didn’t change that day.

But I was wrong; deliciously, gloriously, wonderfully wrong about everything else.

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Thorns FC: Road points and soccer, according to SGT Harris

My Basic Training drill sergeant, SFC Harris, had a very practical approach to life, and that carried over into his outlook on military tasks.  He was always willing to let us try something a little different from what the manuals specified to see if it would work.

“If it’s stupid and it works,” he’d comment, “it’s not stupid.”

For about 90 minutes of the away game in Houston the Portland Thorns’ attack looked pretty damn dull, tepid and, well…stupid.  Then at 90+change Lindsey Horan lined up over a free kick and struck a stunner for the 1-1 equalizer and that suddenly it wasn’t stupid.

But with North Carolina coming in this next Saturday Thorns FC’s gonna have to get a lot smarter most quick smart.  What worked against Houston ain’t gonna work against the league leaders.

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Thorns FC: The Replacements

Today Thorns FC signed two players who appeared in the preseason tournament here in April: defender Kelli Hubly and midfielder Ashley Herndon. The two will serve as “field player replacements” for Brynjarsdottir and Nadim during the period the two regulars are away at the European championships.

In case you don’t remember them both played well during the preseason.

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