Lytle blast vaults Sky Blue past Portland, 1-0

Equalizer Soccer May 17, 2013 120

PORTLAND, Ore. – While Thorns FC’s crowd again made news, drawing 11,055 to a mid-week match at JELD-WEN Field, it was a little-known substitute that stole the headlines late in Portland, knocking another team from the NWSL’s ranks of the unbeaten. With an 80th minute strike from well beyond the arc, substitute Taylor Lytle turned on a match defined by low-percentage chances, with Sky Blue FC taking three points from Portland after a 1-0 win.

“It doesn’t get much better than that, in terms of placement,” Portland head coach Cindy Parlow Cone said, reacting to Lytle’s game-winner. “Great finish by them, and they played tough defensively. They’re a tough block to break down.”

“I’m not surprised that they put a great game together and were able to eek out a win.”

The match’s goal came after a late, seemingly innocuous whistle, a foul 15 yards inside Portland’s half that produced a yellow card for Portland’s Christine Sinclair. Moments after the restart, Lytle, who had come on for Kendall Johnson, laced a ball toward Karina LeBlanc’s goal, giving the Canadian international little chance to prevent Portland’s first loss of the season.

“They took an incredible shot,” Thorns defender Rachel Buehler explained, asked to describe Lytle’s goal. “It’s one of those goals that was an amazing goal on their part. That finish was unbelievable. There’s not much you can do about it … it was a very good shot on her part.”

As the shot went into the right side of Portland’s goal, Sky Blue all but sealed a match defined by its lack of chances. The Thorns high-profile attack were unable to produce any meaningful opportunities for Alex Morgan or Sinclair, while the Thorns defense failed to present Sky Blue the openings that defined their weekend victory against Seattle Reign FC.

But in a battle between the league’s top two teams, Sky Blue didn’t need gifts. Instead, they made their own luck. With Kelley O’Hara’s start at left back pushing University of Portland defender Kendall Johnson into midfield, head coach Jim Gabarra swapped off the former Pilot off in favor of Lytle less than two minutes before she scored. While the match seemed destined to end 0-0, the former Texas Tech Red Raider struck out of nowhere, her long distance strike vaulting her team to the top of the league’s standings.

“They played a very good tactical game,” Buehler said, asked to diagnose how Sky Blue handed Portland their first loss of the season. “They dropped in. They played a very smart defensive game. At times, you have to meticulously get through that, and sometimes that takes away your urgency a little because it’s frustrating. It’s hard to break through that block they were defending in.”

Sky Blue came into the night three points behind league-leading Portland, their 10 points in five games meaning a win at JELD-WEN would move the New Jersey-based club into a tie for first place. Portland, on the other hand, carried an unbeaten record and a four-match winning streak into Thursday’s game, a potential win over Sky Blue allowing Cone’s team to move six points clear before the sixth weekend of league play.

Through 45 minutes, there was little to distinguish the two sides. Portland had been the more proactive side, but Sky Blue amassed edges in shots (13-11, at full time) and shots on goal, edges only partially mitigated by Thorns’ ambition moving toward goal. While Portland may have been more aggressive trying to create chances, Sky Blue were more than holding their own on the road against the league leaders, keeping the Thorns from stressing goalkeeper Brittany Cameron.

“I’m happy with the number of chances we’re creating,” Cone said, asked about the team’s attack. “I’m not happy with the number for shots we’re getting on frame.”

Unable to gain a greater hold on the match after halftime, Portland eventually succumbed to a Sky Blue approach that patiently waited for their chance. With Lytle’s first goal of her NWSL career, that chance finally fell to her, vaulting the former WPS champions to the top of their new league’s table.

  • vert2013

    Does Portland have a midfield? They seemed to make an appearance in Washington and the 2nd Chicago game but I think that must have been a fluke. 2 of the best strikers in the women’s game and we can’t even get the ball upfield.

    • dt

      they rely too much on the long ball. Too one dimension and easy to defend.

      • vert2013

        they’re not even good long balls either, they’re sloppy and it’s like they expect Alex to be able to out gallop a back line that has the likes of Rampone and KO on it.

        The long balls killed them tonight, it was a turnover every single time.

        • NYRick

          That’s a great point. Rampone and KO know AM so well too. They were not going to let any long balls to her get behind them. Just a real dumb strategy when you are going up against players of that caliber. One time though Cameron totally bottled a long ball and almost gifted Portland a goal.

          But the Thorns have zero creativity in their midfield, sans the time Sinc doesn’t touch the ball. They then get frustrated and start hitting long balls to Alex hoping she’ll make a wonder play. She’s quite capable, but not against two starting back liners for the national team.

          • vert2013

            exactly! It’s so frustrating! They’re not bad players either, I’ve seen Long and Washington play with more creativity than desperate long balls but not this season. I don’t know what the deal is.

            They can get away with sloppy play against Chicago and Seattle but not against SBFC, WNY and Boston. They had it together in Washington though and the 2nd Chicago game.

          • KT5000

            I find it maddening when the midfielders trap the ball. And. Stop. I don’t know what’s going on in their heads, but isn’t thinking a couple passes ahead pretty fundamental stuff?

          • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

            There is no fluidity in their passing in the midfield. Worse yet they sometimes pass backwards when the idea is to go forward. When you stop and stand there with the ball, you allow the other team to come trap you. They need to settle the ball and quickly pass it off to a teammate before the defense come. The teammate on the other hand need to find the appropriate spot or spacing to receive the ball. To play against defenses that are just willing to set back and hold their positions, the offense has to move, move often, overlap runs, etc to pull the defense out of their set shape. That way you might catch them in a 1v1 position with Alex, SInc, or Foxhoven up top.

          • Steglitz49

            Apparently, Yuki Ogimi has said that she would want to move to a league where she would be the only Japanese player. I am advised that that in reality means the UK, Sweden or the NWSL. High time for a bit of creative accounting if it is really possible to land such a big fish.

          • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

            What does she have against Japanese players?

          • Steglitz49

            The report did not say. Her kid sister joined Potsdam recently. OK, Yuki is married so it should not be so bad. Her hubby, lucky guy, is a university guy, so I suggest that the Thorns get him a job at the varisty — the “Thorn Chair of something or other” — and Yuki can play in Oregon. Alternatively, Seattle could but ARod may put ideas into Yuki’s head. Chicago, being the teacher of teachers, might be an alternative.

            Seriously, though, if Mrs Ogimi is interested in a berth at the NWSL, the NWSL ought to get its skates on, ought they not. I want to see her play with Alex but Syd or Pinoe would be fine alternatives, as would Ms Cuellar.

          • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

            Only if she’s willing to take a pay cut ($200,000 salary cap, remember). Maybe the hubbie would be the breadwinner and Yuki will be free to roam with her hair down on the pitch.

          • Steglitz49

            Japanese players who go abroad get some of their salary paid by Japanese supporters in Japan. Therefore, they cost the club that signs them less than their price-tag.

            Thus, the team that can put together a package that the JFA can recommend to their helpers, can have Yuki it would seem. This is the case where you need your Machiavelli or Loyola running the team …

          • Don B.

            We’ve talked about field vision before, something Morgan and Sinclair were just born with. Long and Washington don’t have it. Both seem to have tunnel vision and can only deal with what’s directly in front of them. Many times this season when Long or Washington have the ball, Morgan has found a seam in the defense and begins her run only to have them go the other way or continue to dribble into a crowd. Or worse yet, they pass her the ball on the flank and then just stand there instead of following or breaking to the box, leaving Morgan one v. two or three with no outlet. When you have an assist machine like Morgan, you’ve got to learn to use it, and they don’t seem capable. Meanwhile, you have Sinclair tied up in the middle to defend when Long or Washington pass the ball to nowhere or to a defender.

            And you’re right about LeBlanc. She seems capable in net, but provides no offensive threat in catching the opponent flat footed when pushed up.

          • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

            That’s when coaches need to come in with set plays. They need to develop plays between 3 players on any given side involving pass and go and overlaps of the defender, mid, and forward. Also doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of plays coming from the flanks and crosses into the box, most were straight in the middle of the field. Unlike the previous 2 games, the Thorns in this game didn’t seem to be pressuring the defenders of SkyBlue. Maybe there was too much respect for Rampone, but Alex and company did not hassle the defenders or the goal keeper to try and force an errant pass.

            Cone has to come up with something fast because now defenses around the league will emulate what SB did, and that is to sit tight on the back line, clog up and trap the middies, and prevent the Thorns from easy scoring. The goal is to have 0-0 tie, but if you’re lucky come out with a win (SB shot on goal was a lucky one in my opinion).

          • Steglitz49

            Last year Chelsea’s men were under the cosh from Bayern Munich but they won in the penalty shoot-out (that ref knew the rules, thankfully). This year, Chelsea’s men again were under the cosh from Benfica, yet they won. The first goal was from a quick and long throw-out by the Chesea goalie. The second goal was from a set piece (a corner).

            Set pieces play an enormous role in soccer, whether male or female. Homare Sawa scored the equalizer in 2011 off a corner — a back-heel that Zlatan would have been proud of.

          • pakacuda

            “Unlike the previous 2 games, the Thorns in this game didn’t seem to be pressuring the defenders of SkyBlue.”

            I noticed that too. It’s strange because pressuring the back line is part of what got them back against KC in the 2nd half of that game.

            Honestly I think if the Thorns simply raised their effort level it would have been a different outcome.

          • Steglitz49

            Why did they not? Why were they not able to? They had home field advantage — and 11,000 cheering for them to boot.

          • NYRick

            Tobin understands AM. She gets her talent, really more than anyone on the NT too. They have incredible chemistry together. When Tobin arrives and gets a few games in with the Thorns look out. AM may start scoring at a 2 goal a game clip and start dishing assists like crazy to Sinc. I hate to rank on Long and Washington because as you say they have tunnel vision, are really just average players and are extremely limited.

            A really talented ball distributer like Tobin is what Alex and Sinc need obviously. The whole world has seen AM run by people on long balls for two years and that shouldn’t happen anymore, especially when she’s up against top defenders. It’s only one part of her game anyway. Tobin will change everything for this team. She is the allocation I thought that was really unfair when you have forwards like the Thorns do. Just watch. The Thorns are going to be stomping teams by the fourth of July.

      • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

        I agree, long balls should only happen when you catch the opposing backline coming too forward. Rampone is much too experienced to let fast forwards run past her. Alex tried to in the game a few times but was caught offsides. Cone needs a better game plan going forward. Midfield needs to play a quicker game, quicker passes, one touches, pass and go, set up screens for Sinc to come around, etc. LeBlanc can also speed up play during goal kicks. Quick long ball release to Alex before the defense has a chance to run back and set up. Solo was so good at that.

        • NYRick

          Terrific point on LeBlanc. She seems to like to be styling back there. Over admiring a mediocre no chance save. When you have AM, a quick long release pass could be the difference in a tight match. She doesn’t seem capable of that.

      • luke

        After 20 minutes of losing balls because of lack of speed, you are forced to send long balls. It’s simple as that. No speed in midfield = long balls to the strikers.

    • Kernel Thai

      The middies were totally missing the first half. Washington cameoed in the second half. Edwards was an effective shield but wasnt very helpful in trying to even up the numbers when Sky Blue crowded the midfield.

  • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

    Hats off to SkyBlue and their defense. KO, Rampone, and company thwarted any attacks, long balls, even passes upfield that the Thorns try to muster. Most of the time the Thorns were playing too much in the middle where it gets congested and they lose possession. Alex and Sinc were smothered all night with very little room to move. Washington and Long didn’t provide much either. There were points in the game where you sense the Thorns were just frustrated and didn’t know where to start the attack. Very intense game all around, but in the end, good defense won this one.

    • Kernel Thai

      I agree…Portland needed width to make it hard for Sky Blue to pack the box.

      • Steglitz49

        It is a standard sized pitch is it not? Do you want it even wider, as the old Wembley pitch was?

  • Steglitz49

    Well done Portland — 11,055 fans. Vow!

    Great for the NWSL that the SkyBlue won. This will be a great tussle to win the league. (Forget about the play-offs.)

  • sol1711

    from 16000 to 11000 spectators for thorns
    football and play-offs ????????????????????????????????????????????

    • vert2013

      Is this your self-portrait?

      • Steglitz49

        S/he does have a point. It is not just a drop by >30% the absolute fall is 5,000, about what the second most popular team averages. The mid-week fixture might explain it. We shall see.

        They were only 1,100 in Seattle, the other hotbed of soccer in USA, so be grateful for small mercies.

        • Anton

          It was a Thursday night.. aka a school night. 11,000 on a Thursday is remarkable. So no, Sol has no point. Unless his/her point is to abuse a completely innocent question mark key.

          You’re making me defend/give props to Portland here Steg, I don’t like this.

          • Steglitz49

            The point is not to schedule games midweek if you lose 5,000 spectators. At $20 per person that is a loss of $100,000. There is a salary cap of $200,000. The shortfall of two such games defrays the salary cap! Women’s soccer in USA seems to suffer from a massive entitlement syndrome.

            On the other hand, maybe 11,000 is the natural level of spectators and 16,000 was a freak number at the start of the long awaited season.

          • http://twitter.com/BostonRedSoccer Boston Red

            Part of the reason for mid-week games is that the 2 teams are traveling to both Pacific NW teams and then switching opponents.

            It’s a trade off — you only have so many weeks to get in 22 games. Right now, it’s a touch cheaper to not try that in 22 weeks.

          • Steglitz49

            Regionalized leagues. This is a huge continent.

          • Steglitz49

            22 games is what a league of 12 teams play. Here we have 8 teams which means 14 matches. Where do the extra 8 games come from, seeing that there is no domestic Cup competition?

          • http://twitter.com/BostonRedSoccer Boston Red

            Each team 3 x and 1 additional game against regional rival. Otherwise, playing a traditional 2x only gives 14 games which isn’t enough to get attention. 4 x would have been too much and too long for a 1st season.

          • Steglitz49

            The traditional way to play soccer is a home and an away game in the league. Then there is a domestic cup. (England is unusual in having two cup competitions, the others have only one.) In Europe, there is also the Champions League.

            Why can’t the NWSL follow the time-honored pattern? Can the soccer-playing nations of the world be wrong about this? The NWSL are going to have to follow suit eventually anyway, so why not start that way? Bizarre.

          • vert2013

            They more than covered their salary cap in the 1st game and then again last night so that argument doesn’t really hold water for the PDX game.

          • Steglitz49

            “Money makes the world go round” was a song in Cabaret. “Money, money, money”, sang ABBA. They also sang “The winner takes it all”.

          • KT5000

            They should schedule good weather, too.
            Sorry, my coworker whined about 4 times yesterday that she didn’t want to have to sit out in the rrrraaaaaaiiiiinn for the Thorns game. Californian. (She went, though, and the rain stopped.)

          • Steglitz49

            It rained on the day of the 1954 men’s world cup final day. Such weather was known as “Fritz Walter weather” in Germany on account of the captain of the German NT, who loved playing in the rain. Germany won against the mighty Magyars 3-2, having gone 0-2 in the first 10 minutes. It was the only game that that great Hungarian NT lost in about 60 matches. It was the wrong game to lose.

            “Rain, rain, won’t you keep away?” sang Satchmo. He also sang that “Life is a tree of peaches, and I am the one who reaches, for the ones with cream.”

            I live in hope that Yuki and Alex will be paired and that Miyama will join them in midfield. Meanwhile, Lotta Schelin has been nominated for something or other in France.

          • KT5000

            Your encyclopedia-brain is amazing!

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. Like the 2011 ladies WC final, the 1954 is a final that is bigger than the game. It fulfilled a need for Germany similar to what the 2011 victory did for Japan. They both brought rays of sunshine in desperate times.

        • vert2013

          16k is not going to be their average attendance. It was the 1st game and it was on a weekend afternoon. Have realistic expectations.

          • Steglitz49

            Why do you think that the Europeans stage so few ladies’ matches in midweek?

          • vert2013

            the european leagues also have much longer seasons….

          • Steglitz49

            It depends. The European leagues divide into those that play a winter season and those that play a summer season. The Nordic countries play summer because of the climate. The UK play summer so as not to be in the shadow of the men.

            The Swedish summer season starts in mid-April and ends in late October (because there is a gap for the Euro-13 as there was for WC-11 and OG-12).

            Most European leagues have 12 teams, which plays 11 home and 11 away games. Then there is the domestic cup which can add 5 or 6 games, and for the two teams that get to play in the CL there are the home and away matches (mid-week) for that. You will win the league after 22 matches. In addition there is the domestic Cup to be won and the CL cup.

            In short, a few teams that go far like Megan Rapinoe’s Lyon, Wolfsburg and Christen Press’s Göteborg, play about 30 matches, but most only 22.

            In the NWSL there is only one chance to win something after all those matches. On the other hand you do not risk relegation.

        • CubesCompanion

          Of course the home opener against our regional rival is going to draw a bigger crowd than a mid week game against an East Coast team. We might not get over 16,000 again during the regular season (possible exceptions for Abby and WNYF as well as Seattle if Solo and Pinoe are playing) but last nights game was not a drop-off in attendance. I bet we draw about 13,000 – 14,000 for this Sundays game which is about what I expect our season average to be. Also keep in mind that PTFC have sold over 7,000 season tickets. Even if no one showed up to games but them this club would be alright financially.

          • Steglitz49

            Hopefully the average for the season will be above 10,000, which will show other teams what can be achieved.

            KC and DC are exceeding expectations. The others seem to be doing as expected, maybe worse in some cases. Let’s trust they can take their cues from Portland.

      • sol1711

        na na mein freund.
        können wir keine kritik verkraften.
        play offs beim fussball, das kann nur den amis einfallen.
        fussballspiele auf american football fields, american football das spiel wird doch eigentlich mit den händen gespielt. naja, amis halt.

        also mongo, schönen abend noch

        • Steglitz49

          Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut diesem Tagen aber Ich hat gesehen das Magdalena Neuner hat nicht Hoeness schon angeruft.

          In one sense the Americans have got it right, have they not? The UEFA CL is a giant play-off, to which teams qualify based on their performance in the previous season.

          Eh bien, as Lyon might say, I do agree with you that play-offs in the same season in soccer are an abomination and have no right to life. There should be a league and a domestic cup. Basta.

          A continent as large as Mexico, USA and Canada, must needs have regionalized leagues. From those they could invite 2 or 3 teams to compete in a Champions league the next year.

          Yeehaw!

          • sol1711

            cl is not play-off, cups is not play-off

          • Steglitz49

            It depends on how you look at the ladies CL. The two teams that finish top in their domestic league qualify for the ladies’ CL of the next season. In essence those teams play a knock-out competition, which ends in a final — this year on Chelsea’s pitch in London.

            Thus, the CL is a giant play-off between the best teams of the domestic leagues of Europe. We call it the Champions League but it is a knock-out competition with a home and away leg.

            North-America is so huge that they need to quickly create 8 and preferably 16 regionalized leagues. Well understood, they had best start with four. The top Finishers in those could compete in a CL format the next year, could they not? the final to be played in the Rose Bowl or Orange Bowl.

          • sol1711

            not play-off, ihr habt wirklich keine ahnung von fussball

          • Steglitz49

            As I typed twice now, I agree with you that the season must not end in a play-off. On this we have the same opinion.

            I was trying to sketch out a way for north-America to argue how they could have a sort of play-off, a system they obviously love and cherish. Such a large and populous continent must develop regionalized leagues. Mexico, USA and Canada are about 450m inhabitants. Even 8 leagues would mean 60m per league. With 16 leagues you are down to 30m per league.

            The NWSSL as in Super-League would consist of 2-4 teams from these leagues, based on the previous season’s results.

            Also with states in USA, plus the Canadian and Mexican provinces, the region needs to think of a Cup competiton like the FA Cup. The NWFA Cup.

  • Kernel Thai

    They way Rampone stuck to Morgan, she should have gone outside more and seen if she could lure Rampone out of central defense and open it up for Shim or Foxhoven. Sky Blue gets props having a good plan and sticking to it.

    • newsouth

      And they will see about the same thing with WNY, when Lines sticks Estelle Johnson on Morgan, who is a direct forward to her bones. You are what you are. As noted, their mid-field is a personnel issue, so Sinclair has to drop in it, when good teams are on the pitch. They’re still the odds on favorite, because they are allocated to win it and you can’t beat against that much offense up top with a home field advantage, but KC, WNY or SBFC can beat them any day of the week. I don’t believe Boston has the back line for them.

  • Kernel Thai

    I have to say, the Sinclair yellow card was a bit puzzling. I dont believe Ive ever seen a play get carded while she was dribbling the ball before.

    • TFTF

      I watched the replay, the yellow is deserved. Her left foot comes tripping the SB player after Christine already lost the ball.

      • luke

        Not only tripped, she kicked SB player with visible frustration – very deserved yellow.

        • Steglitz49

          Odd. You would have thought the lady would have learnt from Old Trafford.

  • Sacha

    O’Hara playing D made the difference for me, and with games like this you can do nothing but say congrats to Gabarra, great coach.

  • FIXTHEMIDS

    I’ve absolutely had it with Allie Long and Washington. Both never SPRINT. Long is so nonchalant and probably never sweats. Long and Washington again showed no intensity going forward. Shim was again very good and always had to come back into the midfield and helped on occassion.

    Once Tobin Comes back, get rid of Long and Washington and put Shim on right and Tobin on Left and Foxhoven up top with Morgan.

    I find it sooooooooooooooooo annoying the way Washington and Long both play. Get Libby Guess in there and see what she can do!

    • luke

      Exactly, sir. How can you be a football player and can’t sprint and more than this – how can you be in NT player’s pool conversation and can’t sprint!!!???
      The day one of them will be invited to USWNT camp, I’ll loose all respect to Tom Sermanni.

    • newsouth

      this doesn’t make sense. if tobin comes back, then sinclair plays up top and the offense gets going because they become more than just a direct attack. the problem is, tobin dribble into the traffic alot, so sinclair will still be stuck in the mid-field. good luck on that.

  • NYRick

    This was quite an enjoyable result. Way to go Sky Blue. Some thoughts:

    1. In case any of us forgot, myself included, Christy Rampone showed everyone why she is still arguably the greatest backline defender the women’s game has ever seen. A superlative performance. She and Alex’s matchup was like the old Deion Sanders-Jerry Rice pairings. Deion basically would tap Rice on the shoulder pad when they lined up for the first play of the game and say, “I got you tonight, and it’s not going to happen for you.” That’s what she was, a total shutdown NFL corner. Alex was pretty much lost on Rampone Island all night. She did get a couple of late header chances, but that was it.

    2. Lytle’s goal was a pure wonderstrike. Terrific shot, I thought I was seeing things, I didn’t understand how it went in, completely unexpected. Good for her, that’s the NWSL goal of the year so far. Especially being the late winner at JELD-WEN.

    3. Gabarra badly outcoached Cone. He just did. Enough said. As for Cone, what’s with the hat? I’m digging it.

    4. Speaking of fashion, got to give major props to AM. Really liked the black spikes, black laces and black sox look. It made her look real badass out there. I don’t know about you, but all these neon color new soccer shoes are getting a little played out and really overdone. Alex went old school, and the look stood out and was pretty cool and different.

    5. Playing KO on the backline was the difference. But poor KO, who is one of my favorite players on the planet, just has lost all semblance of a scoring touch. She had a great look right outside the 18 in the second half, but she has no confidence putting the ball in the net. Hopefully, it’s coming. Especially when she plays forward.

    6. Props to the Portland crowd. 11k on a Thursday night is awesome. And they never stop chanting or singing the whole match. Great environment.

    7. Long and Washington are killing the Thorns. This has been said by everyone a dozen times, but it bears repeating. Very evident last night.

    • vert2013

      1. It was good to see that Rampone out there again. She’d been getting out playd a bit recently at both the NT and club level. A step behind kinda.

      2. Agree

      3. Cone needs to come up with a game plan that is not dumb the ball downfield and hope for the best. As for the hat, I think it looks dumb.

      4. The black spikes won’t stay black for long. She’s testing out the new silos for Nike, they’re prototypes.

      5. KO belongs on the back line. Sky Blue plays better when she’s there. Even in their WNY loss a few weeks ago, they didn’t settle down until she was moved back.

      6. Portland crowd is amazing! They are setting the standard in both numbers and support.

      7. Truth. I don’t understand how they’ve dive bombed so much since WPS since they’ve both been playing fairly consistently. There’s no connection between those 2 and anyone else on the pitch.

      • NYRick

        As for #4, the players should take a cue from Jay-Z’s Brooklyn Nets. All black uniforms, helvetica typeface, no frill but incredibly stylish retro look.

        The look AM had in this game was uniquely cool, even by accident as you say if she was just testing new shoes for Nike. Sometimes, the best fashion anywhere is found by accident or something someone just throws together that kind of works or looks interesting. If I was a player, I would go with it. A great rule of business and marketing is when everyone zigs, you zag. If I was a Nike marketing exec I would have taken note of it last night. It just stood out. AM as the face of women’s soccer could start a major trend in just about anything she does. That’s why Nike pays her the big bucks.

        • Don B.

          Funny you should mention the shoes. I remember during the last Chicago game Morgan came out wearing the black shoes, and I got the impression she wasn’t too enamored with them. Her body language was screaming, “These shoes suck.” She came out after halftime wearing the red ones.

          • NYRick

            Don, if you have her ear or contact with her, tell her they look badass. As you have mentioned, and we all can see, she does play with a chip and an edge that makes her the player she is. People have the perception of a cutesy prom queen and she’s completely the opposite in persona on the pitch. The black shoes/laces/sox make her even more noticable and imposing…if that’s even possible.

        • luke

          I liked it too!
          Enough of this fluorescence-yellow-red-white barbie-like cleats! Let’s go back to old times – she looked totally badass in black boots.
          Unfortunately, she did not perform particularly wearing them.

    • D23

      Absolute masterclass in defending and not just from Rampone. The entire back four were brilliant – ability to consistently get two into the tackle, reacting instantaneously to cover if one was beaten. Portland have to get Sinclair further up front. She i having to drop too deep and whilst she can do it well enough it is a complete waste of her talent. She and Morgan seem to be able to create chances together but they simply are not close enough most of the time. Portland’s midfield were terrible, lacking both energy and creativity. Seriously, when a team drops in numbers and looks to block the passing lanes your midfielders at least need to move and do some kind of angled running to attempt to open up the space but they just look lost. Parlow Cone has some work to do.

      • luke

        Thing is Allie Long CAN’T RUN, she can only jog. Have you seen one moment in the game she is sprinting, accelerating? Haven’t seen anything like that so far, she moves in one monotonous tempo whether she’s attacking the box or playing on her half.
        She can make nice passes, she can play some short combination game and that’s all. No pace, no dribbling, no shot, no festiness. She can make an interesting pass, but after that she stays in place and admire the view – she is like “#10″ midfielder from 50′s – it’s not enough in today’s game!
        Washington has some speed, but imo she’s not in great shape – looks exhausted after 60 minutes in every game I watched. And she is worse passer than Long, so… :-/
        Without Sinclair, this midfield would be worse midfield in the league by far.

    • Steglitz49

      You have lost me. Why should a left back score any goals at all, except from set pieces? She should have tons of assists or semi-assists, but there is no need for goals except the odd one.

      • NYRick

        I think I’m referring more to her long standing goal less streak with the NT, and for Sky Blue (which she has played forward half the time). She gets plenty of chances even from left back with the NT. She is just too good a player not to score yet, regardless of where she plays on the pitch. She had a great chance in last night’s game but has no conviction in her shot. So she’s kind of snake bitten.

        • Steglitz49

          Aya Sameshima, Japan’s left back has played just over 50 games for the Nadeshiko and scored 2 goals. Yukari Kinga, their right back, has played 90 matches and scored 5 goals, so honors are even between the two sides. Philipp Lahm, the real Magic Dwarf, has scored 5 goals in 100 matches for Germany’s men, also at left back.

          In short, provided the quality of the NWSL is decent, Ms O’Hara might score a goal in a season, possibly two.

    • Christy

      It may have been the best game I have seen yet, not the result I would have liked personally as a Portland fan but still an exciting game considering the score was 1-0 at the end of the night. Sky Blue won the game and it was deserved.

      However, Portland played a better possession game last night, their passing was crisp and more consistent, but that said possession is only 9/10ths of the law right? If your possessing and pulling the other team into the midfield baiting for Alex to break on a long ball, you had better play the ball in, in a timely manner and where Morgan can corral it and pull the trigger before the defense knows what happened, they failed here terribly Long is not a great runner we know, in fact my friend and I call her the giraffe, playfully of course shes just all legs and not enough torso to push them along. Washington is well useless, Foxhoven needs to be on the field Cone, long before the 80th min or so. Tobin needs to wrap things up and get home to Portland (Alex has saved you a drawer). If your gonna spring Alex on a long ball (clearly they will need to use this tactic a few times) you need a quality mid with chemistry with Morgan end of story. And Let’s be real, Sinc is being wasted at Mid, she has chemistry with Morgan already and both are deadly scorers let them do what they do.

      Portland had a plan, it wasn’t a good one because the midfield couldn’t execute it ,but when your playing a defense that knows one of your star fwds like their favorite book you have to play to Morgans strengths and the Def weaknesses. KO plays up in mid field and likes to pus it up into the box and has not a cold chance in hell of catching Alex on a break from there (the other 2 defenders aren’t even a factor) Then there’s Rampone, if you drop the ball in where Alex get on it with a half volley or even a 1 touch outside Rampone doesn’t get there in time. You saw several examples of this last night, right idea poor execution, the ball wasn’t playable enough. If your going to have Alex poaching you have to give her the right bullets to shoot with, simple as that. then you have to play to the defenders weakness and that is the long ball. There are few ppl in the world that can match up against Rampone 1v1 still as a whole it is still a mis match advantage Morgan but without the mid-field’s help Alex couldn’t be Alex and Rampone is still Capt. American.

      Portland has some nice allocations as you know but you can have all the offensive power in the world but if your quarterback sucks your going no where fast. (Sorry NFL reference) still relevant, your middis are your QB’s and the Fwds are your receivers, same same, if your QB cant even get the ball where your talent can catch it then your talent is being wasted. Portland is still the best over all team with by far the best tandem up top (if they ever get to actually be a tandem) Tobin, click your heals together and repeat after me, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!
      SB did exactly what they needed to do, and Portland did not ,simple. they locked down a USWNT back line against Alex Morgan alone, Sinc was lost in mid. The best thing would have been to play them at their own game, Push Sinc into the box with Morgan and let 4 of arguably best players in the world duke it out while the rest of the team plays possession.
      Food For Thought Portland!

      • NYRick

        “Paging Tobin Heath. Paging Tobin Heath. There is a courtesy call for you in the main lobby.”

        Great analysis as always. Tobin changes the whole equation for this team when she arrives. That will be scary good by/around July 4th.

        • Steglitz49

          She chose to take the French €uro and master the art of living in Paris while Alex stayed at home. Let’s hope the spell in PSG will have sharpened her game.

  • Baines3

    It was a good game for SB to win, but Portland is better or at least should be better than what they showed. Morgan was mostly contained by Rampone and/or double team, but yikes this midfield is so frustrating to watch. You have two of the best forwards in the world, yet one has to play deep in mid just to help traffic and the other is being double teamed while trying to run onto all these long balls in which she magically supposed to catch up to. It is frustrating to watch sometimes how some of the mid are so careless with their passing or how there is not enough running. I do have remind myself that this game was 4 days after last game so perhaps that effected the game a little today. Expect a better effort on Sun. (Side note, De Vanna was very fun to watch with her quick feet, I wish she could get more control on the ball)

  • pakacuda

    I don’t see Shim as the solution, Foxhoven should be starting. Shim works hard but I haven’t seen any creativity or attacking flair, which Foxhoven has shown plenty of. With Foxhoven as a true second target for Sinclair’s passes it would open things up for Sinc.

    The “super sub” excuse is wearing thin, it was the same excuse used for Morgan when I think most will now agree she very well could have pushed the USWNT to a World Cup win as a starter. The fitness “reasoning” is completely unsupported fabrication without evidence. These are all professional athletes who have been working out for years and starters on their college teams, it is implausible they are not prepared to go 90, without proof.

  • luke

    I read all 54 comments so far, and I’m stunned!
    I mean, I was/am first to hammer Thorns midfield, wrote they were horrible even in their first win vs Seattle, and I’m more than happy to praise The Girl with Pink Headband, but hello!
    Alex Morgan had couple of very good (not 90-100%, but very good) chances and she didn’t score. She could’t outplay defenders (top world class defenders, but still) and she was caught offside too often for my taste, wasn’t she?

    She should have been given more chances, I do not deny that, but Alex Morgan that we know, Ms. Clutch from WWC final, OG semifinal and Algarve semi/final would have get a goal from what she had in this game – we all know that. Don’t we have right to expect “something from nothing” from player of her caliber? I think we do.

    IMO, being a leader that she’s, she must take a little bit of blame for this defeat.

    Just a little bit.

    • pakacuda

      Morgan looked lackadaisical this game. Frankly she doesn’t seem as active in the NWSL as in the USWNT. In the USWNT you saw her sprinting off the ball a lot more, constantly pressuring the back line into errant passes, passing and breaking to start a give and go, etc. In this game I saw very little of that. It looked like either listlessness or just giving up on her teammates. I wouldn’t say she’s “spoiled” yet but with her chippiness etc. the warning flags are starting to pop up.

      • D23

        That’s the (great) thing about a league – the way that it emphasises the quality of a team. No player can have a brilliant game, every game when you are playing that often. Alex may not have been at her best but that is going to happen every now and then when you are playing week in week out. The league (hopefully) will be won by a team that plays well enough to win when one or some of their players have an off night. For example, Ashlyn Harris did not have her best game last night but the fact that Washington finally figured out their offense a bit covered for that. Yet in other games she has made saves that have resulted in the team at least taking away a point. The strength of sky blue last night was how well as a team they played particularly defensively. It’s the kind of team performance that goes along way to being successfu

        • pakacuda

          Oh I agree no one can be brilliant every time out. But effort level is a bit different. I even know you can’t expect 100% effort every time out but it just seems Morgan has been in a distinctly lower gear in the league games than I’ve seen in the past, and it was especially apparent yesterday. That might be OK, she might be saving energy for later in the season, but it’s something to look out for.

    • FIXTHEMIDS

      I find it hilarious people are doubting AM already. She is clearly the one to watch and the entire SBFC had to change their entire lineup/game plan because of ONE player…….Alex….not Sinc. When Messi / Wambach doesn’t score all their chances, do we all think it’s his/her fault. There are NO warnings flags.

      You have to blame the midfield because from Game 1 they have proven to be terrible. NO energy.No forward passing. I wish AllWhiteKit.Com had a stat for Washington and Long to see how many times they passed backwards VS forward. Sinc and Morgan always have to play together or make something out of nothing in order to do things for their team.

      • Anton

        Nobody is doubting Alex here. It’s just that everyone loves to heap praise on her when she plays well and when anyone mentions that she has a pedestrian performance, they get blasted for it and labeled a hater. She didn’t play great last night, and that wasn’t at the fault of the midfield (who has their own problems). She’s not above criticism.

        I’m not even saying she played bad last night (pakacuda is right, she looked lackadaisical and disinterested), but if you’re (not directed at you, just in general) going to prop her up when she plays well, at least admit it when she doesn’t play so well.

        • NYRick

          Great post.

        • newsouth

          nice post in response to the fanboys and girls. she’s going to have problems against wny also, since lines will put estelle johnson on her, another fast back, who can match her pace. again, portland rises or falls with sinclair. the good teams can pin sinclair in the mid-field and turn portland into a singular direct attack.

          • Don B.

            I can somewhat understand your derision of those you label ‘fanboys’ and ‘fangirls’ because their uncritical support may be influenced by their ‘fandom’, but since you once described yourself on Big Soccer as “Alex Morgan haters like myself,” (your exact words), you don’t really have a lot of room to disparage anyone for having an uncritical opinion nor should you expect anyone to value yours. Their viewpoint is certainly no more clouded than your own.

          • Steglitz49

            Bizarre. Why hate Alex Morgan? Be envious of her, yes; but hate? Seems misuse of language.

    • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

      Alex would be the first to tell you she had on off-game and couldn’t score when the team needed her to score. Would it have pleased the audience more if she came out like Abby did for the Flash and apologize for her performance and vow to do better the next time? Maybe for some people. But I think Alex will take this game and learn from it, (first experience for her to lose a game as a starter, by the way). It’s how you bounce back from defeat that defines a great player. We will see on Sunday.

    • Steglitz49

      Apart from the obvious explanation of Ms Morgan not feeling 100% for whatever reason and that this was one of the few occasions that she faced a top-class defense, maybe she is feeling something else, akin to weariness of soul?

      Her NT colleague Ms Rapinoe will next week step out on the Chelsea’s pitch to play in the CL final and her other colleague has spent 5 months in Paris helping PSG to qualify for next season’s CL. They are missing a big chunk of the first NWSL while Alex like a good little trouper is doing her bit in the trenches. Players that she faced in the WC-11 final etc that you mentioned, will be in serious action this weekend, such as Yuki Ogimi for Potsdam in the German Cup final.

      The NWSL cannot do without Ms Morgan but it can be a wee tad bit tedious to know that you are the world’s number one but others are not pulling their weight — and that you have two more years of this meaningless activity ahead of you before the next WC comes along.

      Let’s trust Ms Morgan finds her grove again, even if it means that the next opponents get whacked for six!

      • http://twitter.com/BostonRedSoccer Boston Red

        I seriously doubt Alex pines to play in the German Cup…

        • Steglitz49

          It floats Yuki Ogimi’s boat. It will be Alyssa Naeher’s last game for Potsdam before she returns to USA.

          The winner gets to lift the German ladies’ cup. It is quite a stylish trophy. Last year Sarah Hagen scored the first goal in what became a 2-0 victory over Frankfurt, the first major competition that Bayern’s ladies had won for an awfully long time.

          Sports-persons like meaningful activities. Opening supermarkets and shooting promotional videos only takes you so far.

          Alex can launch the NWSL. She is trying her best. If she had gone to Lyon and Ms Rapinoe stayed in USA, where would the NWSL be?

      • NYRick

        And both Ms. Rapinoe and Ms. Heath would kill to be Alex Morgan for one day of their life, and to have her life for one day right now. Let’s be a little real here. As I said to you before, I don’t think European titles in the women’s game are that big a deal to the American national team players. Pinoe and Tobin are mercenaries for the money in Europe right now. Team success may be just fun and gravy to them. Let’s call it what it is. I think every American girl who ascends to the elite level in women’s soccer in our country thinks of one thing and one thing only: play and excel for the NT in the WC and Olympics. Alex has already done that and the best is most likely yet to come. She’s a smart girl and knows all the greatest gifts for her lie in the good old US of A. And as an American soccer fan, I’m happy for that, and proud of the way she represents our country.

        I know you allude many times to the fact that Alex should play in Europe or Japan for a “life experience.” I think it’s a safe bet to say that’s she having the time of her life right where she is. I seriously doubt Alex will ever play her club soccer in Europe. She is not just the face of women’s soccer, but almost more importantly, kind of becoming the face of young women’s athletics and the poster girl for the success of Title IX in this country. That’s a huge responsibility and a bit of a burden but she seems to have the makeup to handle it.

        • Steglitz49

          “both Ms. Rapinoe and Ms. Heath would kill to be Alex Morgan for one day of their life, and to have her life for one day right now” — We do not know what they think and wish for, and their dreams are not relevant to Alex anyway.

          As you type, Alex is doing a magnificent job for ladies’ sports in USA. This is fantastic. She is (probably) the only one who could do it currently, at least for a team sport. Although a wonderful feeling and gratifying, nevertheless the novelty factor soon wears off. It can be another chore.

          When Alex was developing her game, the top lady players played in USA. The list is almost endless. Playing in the USA was where everyone hankered after, just like European hockey players to the NHL and basket to NBA. Today the glamour is in Europe.

          All those advertising millions may stick in your teeth when you are not free but a serf. To be at the top of your game and putting your shoulder to the wheel for a hard task, yet see your colleagues swan off to play for real prizes in games that matter, would grate from time to time. You shoot a promotional video in Chile while they play in Cup-finals or get to watch Bayern Munich destroy Barca 4-0.

          • Anton

            The only American athletes who benefit more by going to Europe are the USMNT players. The NHL and NBA are still the top leagues in their respective sports, and it’s not even close. Foreign stars still flock to those leagues.

            The USMNT players help grow the game in America further by appearing for clubs in Europe, instead of playing in MLS. Clint Dempsey is doing much more for soccer in the U.S. by playing for Tottenham instead of playing for New England. Ditto for Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones, Brad Guzan and so on. Would it be nice when one day all our top players are playing in MLS? Sure, but for now I’d rather have our top talent in Europe.

            Could Alex go overseas one day? Absolutely, but to make it sound like she’d be better off going to play for Lyon or PSG is wrong. Rarely, if any, casual soccer fans know that PSG have a women’s team. For the time being, if their goal is to grow the women’s game, they would be best served to stay home and play. If their goal is to have fun and make money, then they would be better off going overseas.

          • Steglitz49

            I am a bit lost. I do not think anyone pretends that the NHL and NBA are not the top of the pile. Hockey is, nevertheless, a minority sport by world standards but obviously important to those countries who play it. NBA is a good sport if you are 10 feet tall.

            We were musing about why Alex might have lost a bit of her zest and gheist, apart from being ill of course. As for Alex playing abroad, the whole point of her approach surely is that she is shouldering the burden of getting the NWSL off the ground. You can make a list of the established USAWNT players and the wannabes who are not in the endeavor from the start.

            I doubt if any causal soccer fan in north-America know anything about women’s soccer except that USA won the Olympic gold and that Alex Morgan promotes body-paint as new feature in human relationships.

            The more informed American soccer fans can probably list many if not all foreign clubs with American lasses playing for them.

          • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

            The glamour may just return back to the good ol’ US of A. And then we will look back and say how “brilliant” Morgan and the other ladies were in dismissing the naysayers and finally putting US soccer on the map.

          • Steglitz49

            I thought that was my point. That Alex Morgan deserves a large bouquet for playing in the NWSL from the start instead of swanning off for the first half of the season.

            At the same time were Alex’s handlers to decide that they would get more out of her playing in Antarctica for Penguins United, to Antractica she would be asked to go. The chances of that are, well understtod, trivial — but Japan is a jolly big market, is it not, and they are the current world champions?

          • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

            Maybe this question is better asked if and when the NWSL folds. Hope not, though.

          • Steglitz49

            I suspect that Ms Morgan has a clearly thought out plan; short-, medium- and long-term. There are so many models for her that she can pick and chose: politics, public service, sports or private life.

            Pernilla Wiberg sits on the IOC and the committee for safety in Alpine skiing, and owns a hotel. Anne-Marie Moser-Proell and her husband ran a restaurant after she retired but when he died, she sold it. Gold-Lena claims that her 5 year plan is to buy a house in her village and start a family. Kristi Yamaguchi runs her foundation. Sarah Hughes seems to have a private life, like Rosi Mittermaier did.

            To each their own.

          • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

            Just heard, Chicago Red Stars will be getting 2 German internationals: Grings and Fuss. The migration has started.

        • luke

          I probably have some usual problems with my english, so please, reassure me that you’re not insinuating there is a single team in NWSL that is better than OL Feminine?
          And that if you want to say after years: “I was competing with my club against the best in the world”, you had to play against them?

          • Steglitz49

            Be grateful for small mercies. At least he is not telling us for the umpteenth time that a certain American player is the world’s best striker and that a certain coach is the most incompetent and biased in the history of the game.

            Alex Morgan is worthy of big bouquet. Without her playing in USA there would be no NWSL. We learnt that from one of the WNYF home-games recently. Let’s hope that the NWSL will be known as the league that Morgan built.

            Lyon has just extended Lotta Schelin’s contract by 3 years. If Yuki Ogimi leaves Potsdam, there would be an opening there, but I am partial to Japan because it is more unusual than old €urope.

          • luke

            20 years ago they couldn’t even spell “soccer” and now they dare to say european titles are not a big deal… meh

          • Steglitz49

            Hear hear!

          • NYRick

            In the women’s game Euro titles are not a big deal. Men’s game a whole different story. I guarantee you that if you polled fans on this board and site right here (and you are dealing with some of the most hard-core women soccer fans there are) you would hear the same.

            Do you honestly think an American fan cares whether Hope when she played in Sweden or Press playing in Sweden and winning a league title means anything to a US soccer fan? They are judged by what they do with the national team. That’s just the way it is. The NWSL is wonderful to promote the sport in this country and showcase new talents, but the best American players are only known for what they do in the Olympics and WC. Not disparaging Euro women’s soccer, but just talking from a perspective and perception viewpoint.

          • http://twitter.com/epang0710 Elaine

            I don’t think you can compare the women’s game in the US against that in Europe. The reason being soccer in America has not yet taken off like it is in other countries. Sadly the American sports watcher only watches women’s soccer when it’s the WC and Olympics (and anything involving the NT) because that is all that is advertised and featured here. That is why this league is so important. It gives a chance for everyone to see women’s soccer here in the US in action every single week. If it survives and thrives like people hope it will, then in 10-15yrs time, the sport will be just as popular here as in Europe and everyone will be talking about the NWSL (maybe we can even have a cup tournament in North America like others have suggested). We can only hope as all fans of women’s soccer want to see.

            As far as the Euro titles, I wouldn’t say people are not interested per say. I, myself, would watch Press, Tobin, and Pinoe play in Europe if I have more access to the games. When was the last time they featured a European women soccer match on ESPN or Fox Soccer. You can’t watch it they don’t show it.

          • Steglitz49

            Verily. There is no reason why north-America should not be the high temple of women’s soccer, the place where all aspiring women would want to come and play.

            The networks broadcast what they think that there is a market for. This year, with Ms Rapinoe in Lyon and the ladies CL final being played at Chelsea’s ground, one would have thought that ESPN or Fox Soccer would broadcast it in USA, even if all they did was to buy the BBC’s or whichever English language channel broadcasts it (Al-Jazeera?).

            This afternoon is the German cup final, but with Alyssa Naeher being the only American on the pitch, the networks can be forgiven for not bothering — but, maybe, they should.

          • Steglitz49

            Winning those titles meant something to those players.

            Ali Krieger and Gina Lewandowski are two American lasses who have done the treble (they may be the only ones). Then there are all the ladies who have won a domestic cup or the league or both.

            Granted, they are not very well paid but they seem to enjoy it and the fans in those countries appreciate them. They get to experience a different culture, maybe even learn a bit of another language.

            The NWSL had better succeed because women’s soccer around the world needs a dynamic and thriving NWSL. This something only north-America can provide. The commitment of Alex Morgan is quite remarkable and laudable.

          • NYRick

            You see, now you are mixing my words and missing the return perspective back. For the record, a certain coach was incompetent and bias, and I’ll stand by that. I never said that the “other” American player was the world’s best striker. I merely have stated (and mind you I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling) that she deserved a chance as a forward starter on the USWNT, and when she gets it, she will excel. That’s starting to happen this year. I think she “who will not be named” is a very gifted player from what I can see, and will do special things for the national team moving forward.

            I’m not trying to disparage the women’s game in Europe, or whether the Lyon Ladies are a great team. All I’m saying, and of course purely my opinion, is that Pinoe and Tobin are mercenaries in Europe for the money. Not faulting them for that. But the American girls make their name and their fame with the national team. Not winning CL titles in the women’s game. That can not even be debated. CL, FA Cup, German and Spanish league titles etc. are important and prestigious to the men’s game of course. But not to the women’s game as you may think. Maybe that’s looking at it a little too narrow- minded from a US fan perspective, but that’s how I see it.

          • luke

            It does, definitely it does.
            I’ll have a ton of respect for Pinoe if she helps OL win CL this year. She is maybe the best american player right now and this achievement will be nowhere near winning NWSL in my hierarchy, not even close.

          • Steglitz49

            In years gone past, the USAWNT consisted of players based at home, one rare exception being Ali Krieger. This is no longer so. Of course, by the time WC-15 comes around the squad may all be in the NWSL.

            The ladies FA cup was first contested 42 years ago and the Swedish cup 32 years ago. The most handsome trophy is probably the French cup, but then you would expect that. The Spanish cup started 30 years ago. Given how little attention women’s team games get, it is not surprising that they are not so well known. Nevertheless, of the men’s domestic cups it is only the FA cup that makes a mark internationally — and the viewing figures are enormous.

            In all team sports, the domestic game trumps the games in foreign places, but everyone follows the fate of their favorite players abroad. Just like you follow Christen Press, so others follow Amber Brooks, Sarah Hagen, Yael Averbuch, Whitney Engen or Alyssa Naeher or … .

  • KT5000

    I think Shim has something to offer, especially ifyou watch her without the ball. Her game-read and spatial awareness appear to be very good. It makes me wonder whether she should be in midfield. Opposing defenders are committed to shutting down our front line with multiple bodies, and Shim doesn’t appear to have the tight-spaces skills to break free of that near goal, but she DOES contribute and make good decisions, even if the execution isn’t 100%.

    • luke

      …and I disagree she does not have vision – I’ve seen at least 2-3 great, no-looking passes to Alex and Sincy from Mana in this match. I haven’t seen one from Kerr in her three matches.

      • pakacuda

        I didn’t see those passes, at least not anywhere near goal – maybe you can point out the minutes. Shim does work hard, and makes solid short passes in the midfield. I don’t see the attacking creativity from her that Foxhoven has shown. I do think Shim would make a very good midfield replacement for Washington.

  • Kernel Thai

    Wow…what a crazy thread. SBFC played great defense and had a clever plan for neutralizing Morgan & Sinclair. Just give them credit. I cant believe people r taking Morgan to task. She had two good shots, the first from a very tough angle missed the upper 90 by a foot,,,the second was the header which has never been her forte’. Having Cameron play so high was a great tactic. Sinc was constantly surrounded by by defenders. Laying this at their feet is like saying How come they couldnt beat the other team by themselves?

    If u need to lay blame instead of just praising SBFC, then put it on the midfield. Other than Edwards spearheading another fine defensive effort the middies were invisible again. Long, Shim and Washington have to make SB pay for triple teaming Sinclair. Do the math. There r only so many defenders. They needed to get wide and either force SB to leave Sinclair and chase or give them open looks. Morgans biggest mistake was trying work for goal when she might have been better used as a decoy. If Rampone was going to follow her everywhere, Morgan should have pulled the best CB in the league away from the goal and taken their chances they could beat Coco Goodson.

    • newsouth

      what clever plan? i;d like to know. portland is 0*1*1 against strong teams and 4*0 vs winless teams. sinclair got stuck in the mid-field again, which switched the play to morga’s direct style of play. sbfu has a cb, who can match her pace. kc has a combination of backs. wny has a back, estelle, who will give them problems also, if sinclair gets stuck in the mid-field. who is taking morgan to task? if you match up against her direct style of play, you can kill off the major part of her game. she’s not supergirl, has limitations like all the other forwards in the world. depending on the day and the matchs, she’ll get goals against kc, wny and sbfu, but they are the best built teams to take away her game.

    • newsouth

      what clever plan? i;d like to know. portland is 0*1*1 against strong teams and 4*0 vs winless teams. sinclair got stuck in the mid-field again, which switched the play to morga’s direct style of play. sbfu has a cb, who can match her pace. kc has a combination of backs. wny has a back, estelle, who will give them problems also, if sinclair gets stuck in the mid-field. who is taking morgan to task? if you match up against her direct style of play, you can kill off the major part of her game. she’s not supergirl, has limitations like all the other forwards in the world. depending on the day and the matchs, she’ll get goals against kc, wny and sbfu, but they are the best built teams to take away her game.