Thursday Roundup: Heath, Horan questionable for season opener

The Equalizer Staff April 6, 2017 37

Also in today’s roundup, Ireland WNT and FAI reach agreement, Canada defeat Sweden in friendly, Pride waives Sarah Hagen, Breakers announce new layout for Jordan Field and Courage launches Development Academy.

Tobin Heath is questionable for Portland's season opener after being sidelined with a back injury. (Copyright Patricia Giobetti |

Tobin Heath is questionable for Portland’s season opener after being sidelined with a back injury. (Copyright Patricia Giobetti |

The Portland Thorns may be without several of their star midfielders–most notably Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan–in their season opener against the Orlando Pride on Saturday, April 15 according to Jamie Goldberg of The Oregonian. 

News of the injuries was released when first Heath then Horan were ruled out of the United States women’s national team training camp ahead of a pair of friendlies against Russia, the first of which will be played tonight. The Thorns are reportedly continuing to monitor Heath and Horan, both of whom have been sidelined with injuries (back and hip flexor, respectively), to determine the timelines of their returns.

“We’re still trying to find out a little bit more. We had Lindsey progressing with some of her exercises. Tobin, her exercises are off the field and we’re taking it easy,” Head Coach Mark Parsons told Goldberg. “Fingers crossed for short-term. Short-term could be a week.”

{NWSL Season Previews: Seattle Reign | Boston Breakers | Chicago Red Stars | Houston Dash}

If either player is not healed enough to play in a week’s time though, they will likely be unavailable for the Thorns on opening day. Even if they are, Parsons may decide to err on the side of caution and leave them out of the starting XI.

The Thorns are currently trying to get back to full strength as a number of players are currently out with or recovering from injuries. Dagny Brynjarsdottir suffered a setback in her recovery from an off-season back injury and has yet to be able to participate in any preseason activities. Katherine Reynolds is also dealing with a groin strain and may be ready in time for the home opener, while Hayley Raso should be available on the 15th after nursing an ankle injury. Both Meg Morris and Nadia Nadim have recovered from serious injuries suffered in 2016 but continue to build fitness ahead of the 2017 season.

Ireland WNT reaches agreement with FAI

Just two days after the Ireland women’s national team held a press conference to air grievances against the Football Association of Ireland, the two sides have negotiated an agreement. According to both parties, all issues to be addressed were resolved.

The Association is pleased that both sides have reached common agreement and a settlement, which allows the two parties to move forward together as one, in the best interests of Irish football,” the FAI said in a statement released by the federation

The team released a statement via the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland, the players’ union, on Twitter, confirming that all issues had been resolved.

Among the complaints by the players were being forced to change into team gear in airport bathrooms, having to share team warm-ups with the youth national teams, lack of match bonuses and no compensation for the loss of income suffered by players missing work due to national team duties. The team also asked for a nutritionist, individual strength and conditioning programs and a full-time goalkeeping coach, among other requests.

With the agreement, the Ireland WNT returns to training in preparation of its friendly against Slovakia on Monday, April 10.

The news came less than 24 hours after it was announced that U.S. Soccer and the USWNT had negotiated a new CBA

Canada defeats Sweden, 1-0

In a friendly between the reigning Olympic bronze and silver medalists, Canada defeated hosts Sweden, 1-0. With the win, Canada improves to a 4-1-1 record for 2017.

One of Canada’s best opportunities of the first half came in the 21st minute when captain Christine Sinclair received the ball on the right side. The lack of pressure from Sweden’s defense allowed her to wait for Sophie Schmidt to make a run down the middle. Schmidt sent Sinclair’s pass rocketing towards goal with a shot taken well outside the 18, but Sweden’s goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl dove to knock Schmidt’s shot wide.

The match’s lone goal came in the 33rd minute off a 46-second sequence consisting of 16 passes and eight different players. Stephanie Labbé reset the play, and the ball began moving between defenders as Canada calmly maintained possession. The play slowly moved up the field where Deanne Rose collected the ball on the left before passing to Sinclair, who took a couple touches before lobbing the ball to Janine Beckie. From just inside the box, Beckie sent a bouncing left-footed shot past Lindahl and into the side netting.

Sweden fought hard for an equalizer throughout the second half, but Canada’s defense was stronger than the Europeans’ attack. The Swedish side nearly found the back of the net in the 56th minute when Labbé had trouble getting through traffic to collect a bouncing ball, but Sweden were unable to get off a decent shot before Schmidt cleared the ball out of bounds.

The last 10 minutes saw Sweden take a number of shots in search of a last-minute equalizer, but to no avail. The first came with second-half substitute Hanna Glass put a shot on target, but Labbé easily denied Glass of the goal. Linda Sembrandt and Lotta Schelin both nearly scored in the final minutes of the game, only two see both shots go just wide of their target.

Canada will next travel to Erfurt, Germany on Sunday, April 9 to take on No. 1 team in the world and reigning Olympic gold medalists.

Canada Lineup: Stephanie Labbé; Ashley Lawrence, Kadeisha Buchanan, Shelina Zadorsky, Allysha Chapman (Marie Levasseur 85’); Desiree Scott, Jessie Fleming, Sophie Schmidt; Janine Beckie, Deanne Rose (Nichelle Prince 72’), Christine Sinclair (C) (Jordyn Huitema 88’)

Sweden Lineup: Hedvig Lidahl; Jessica Samuelsson, Nilla Fischer (Magdalena Eriksson 52’), Linda Sembrandt, Jonna Andersson (Hanna Glass 69’); Josefin Johansson (Elin Rubensson 46’), Lisa Dahlkvist, Caroline Seger; Lina Hurtig (Stina Blackstenius 46′), Kosovare Asllani, Olivia Schough (Lotta Schelin 69′)

Orlando Pride waives Sarah Hagen

Sarah Hagen was one of the first three members of Orlando Pride. (Photo Courtesy Orlando Pride)

Sarah Hagen was one of the first three members of Orlando Pride. (Photo Courtesy Orlando Pride)

The Orlando Pride have waived forward Sarah Hagen, one of the first three players signed by the team ahead of its inaugural season in 2016. In that season Hagen made eight starts over 17 appearances, scoring two goals and recording two assists in 587 minutes played.

“Making a move like this is never easy, and it was an incredibly hard decision to part ways with Sarah,” Tom Sermanni, head coach of the Pride, said. “Sarah has been the consummate professional both on and off the field. We thank her for her commitment to the Pride and wish her the best of luck in her future, hopefully in the NWSL.”

Hagen came to the Pride via trade with FC Kansas City, where she played for two seasons and won back-to-back NWSL Championships. Prior to the NWSL, Hagen played in the Bundesligan for FC Bayern Munich after originally being drafted by the Philadelphia Independece in the first round of the 2012 WPS Draft.

Breakers announce new stadium layout

The Boston Breakers announced on Thursday a new layout plan for Jordan Field, their home stadium since 2015. The new plan will feature a new seating plan that increases capacity to 4,100 seats, including 3,000 seats along the main touchline and another thousand behind the far goal.

“We have worked hard to be able to increase our capacity slightly and to also improve the fan experience that we offer within the stadium,” Boston Breakers president of business operations Mark Thomas said in a statement from the team. “We hope that our fans will really get behind the team from the new vantage points within Jordan Field.”

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Last season the Breakers had a 3,570 average attendance despite finishing the season 3-15-2 for the season (2-6-2 at home) and at the very bottom of the table.

The Breakers return to Jordan Field for their home opener on Sunday, April 23 when they take on Sky Blue FC.

Courage launches Girls Development Academy

Channeling the WUSA franchise of the same name, the North Carolina Courage are officially part of NWSL

The North Carolina Courage announced it is launching a Girls Development Academy this fall.

The North Carolina Courage announced today the launch of the NC Courage Girls U.S. Soccer Development Academy, making them the ninth NWSL club to join U.S. Soccer’s newest venture in identifying the nation’s elite players and developing them into future professionals.

The Courage’s DA will consist of a 10-month training program consisting of professionalized coaching and training with the pro team. The DA will field U-14, U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 teams. The Courage’s DA will compete in the southeast division, which also includes the Orlando Pride DA.

Sean Nahas will direct the Girls DA teams for the Courage. A veteran youth coach, Nahas currently serves as an assistant coach to the U-20 U.S. women’s national team, which won the U-20 Women’s CONCACAF Championship in 2015 and was a semifinalist at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

The U.S. Girls Development Academy currently consists of approximately 70 teams and will kick off its inaugural season this fall.

  • Ashley C

    -A shame about Hagen. Perhaps Marta will be announced soon? Either way, I’ve always liked Hagen.

    -Nice assist and goal. Thought Canada was excellent in the first 45 and Sweden did better in the second.

    Janine Beckie Scores Goal to put Canada 1 up. Video courtesy of: Canada Soccer, #womensfootball #CANWNT #SWEvCAN @janinebeckie4— WomensSoccerUnited (@WSUasa) April 6, 2017

    • DNG

      Well that’s not very good defending.

      • Guesting

        Great ball by Sinclair for the assist.

      • JL

        Yep. She took full advantage of the Sweden CBs’ ball watching and was able to slip by unnoticed. Lindahl was pretty much a sitting duck.

  • FawcettFan14

    Hagen scored goals galore in the Bundesliga but it never quite translates to NWSL. Maybe she returns to Germany. Or goes back to FCKC?

    • mockmook

      Don’t understand why ORL ever took Hagen — was past time to move on

    • Calci0

      I could see another European move.

  • htm222

    Just when I couldn’t get any more confused by one of Jill’s line ups… she one ups herself, again.

    • guest

      Lavelle at CB. Kling at Forward. OHara at the 10. Calling it now.

      • hmm

        I think Jill is trying to get fired. Maybe she wants to go back to England.

      • ARED

        Haha. Except Lavelle at CB and O’Hara as #10 would actually be an improvement from the players in those roles for the previous 6 months. (seriously….).

    • mockmook

      Beyond Lavelle as RM, what is wrong with this line-up?

      • Ethan

        I don’t even mind that. Inverted wingers are typically faster, but she’s playing like one/playing as if she has a bit of a free role.

        Edit: Lloyd had a great pass for Dunn’s goal, but maybe her?

        • DNG

          What do you mean that Inverted wingers are typically faster? Both Lavelle and Pugh are playing pretty free.

          • Ethan

            I meant pace, at least with regards to the ones I can think of. That applies to all wingers I know though.

            I suppose. I saw Lavelle on the left flank a fair amount as well though while Pugh stayed left/central.

          • DNG

            Okay. I don’t really think that inverted wingers are necessarily faster. Thomis isn’t an inverted winger and is probably the fastest, or one of the fastest wings in the world. Usually what I associate as the advantage of playing as an inverted winger is being able to sort of shield the ball when dribbling inside.

          • Ethan

            Oh, what I meant is they’re typically faster than Lavelle is. Not typically faster than other players. I also wasn’t just thinking about female players. (Then again, Walcott’s not an inverted winger. Regardless, although she’s far from slow, I was just saying that Lavelle’s not your prototypical winger/inverted winger in terms of pace.

          • DNG

            Gotcha and that makes more sense. And both Pinoe and Tobin kind of fit that mold of inverted wingers that aren’t burners. Hazard is really quick but I wouldn’t say he has the top speed of someone like Robben or Bale. Probably not close.

          • Ethan

            Tymrak as well. I guess my comment does apply more to male players.

          • DNG

            Men’s game is a different beast. Just about all of the top wingers are explosive because that’s where the games is at. Just speaking to inverted vs true winger for a moment. Inverted wingers need to be comfortable on the ball in tight spaces and dribbling into traffic. True wingers really just needs speed as most of the time they are looking to cross from the end line. In the men’s game there are just more really explosive players with good close control. Iniesta when he played on the wing for Spain is an example of what I think you’re looking for.

      • guest

        When I first saw it I had no idea what she was doing (didn’t even consider Short as a CB) but it was fun to watch. Lavelle, Dunn, and Pugh are all hustlers. Mewis continues to impress. Lloyd didn’t make an impression on me.

  • Ethan

    Lavelle’s smooth turn and great attempt to play in Pugh in the 5th minute is exactly the type of play that makes me excited to see what she can produce in the upcoming years for the NT/in the NWSL.

    Edit: Lavelle again in the 37th minute with a back heel nutmeg. She must be happy with that after being nutmegged in practice.

    • Timber Dave

      How much of a right foot does Lavelle have? I didn’t see her using it much — in fact, it seemed like she actively avoided it.

      • Ethan

        I don’t know how good she is with her right foot, but she didn’t actively avoid using it at all against England. She was comfortable and willing to play passes and shoot with her right foot. That’s why I was surprised that she didn’t just take the shot.

        • ARED

          I think she has the quality with both and like you say she has shown this before also. But I do think the power and finishing are usually the hardest skills with the weak foot and so it’s not so surprising or really a poor choice to look for another option -at least until we know she couldn’t find one! haha.

          But especially as a player or coach it always is quite frustrating for me to see a player waste possession with wild “finishes” with their bad foot if they have other options. It’s pretty rare to find success that way, especially in WoSo.

          • Ethan

            Fair enough. It’s just that Lavelle likely knew that she’d run into a number of covering players if she cut back on to her left foot and subsequently wouldn’t have anywhere near as good of a shooting opportunity. In those situations, I’d prefer a wild finish over no shot attempt made from either the original player or a teammate.

            Edit: Now, the shot from Lavelle outside of the box that forced a save out of the Russian goalkeeper. In those situations, I want her cutting inside and getting onto her left foot for a better shooting opportunity.

          • ARED

            Yes, I agree, and I think this is what she needs to both improve but also just learn how good she is at this level. For example, Messi will ignore the “right” play many times -perhaps a right-foot shot or pass to the open wing, and instead find a pass back inside to a sharp run no one else sees. Or perhaps Robben also on the left foot finds brilliant goals. It’s magic when it works, but in only 4 matches Lavelle has to see what works and how much space she can find.

            I agree -in important matches you do not want to pass too many open shots unless there is another very good option. I think she went looking for a run behind from other side, but could not find one.

      • ARED

        For me she is at a high level with all skills with both feet, but does lack some power for certain plays which is normal for a young (and smaller) player. She does clearly prefer the left to dribble but that is normal and we’ll see if anybody ever learns to stop her.

        So the summary is that for passing and short, quick plays, she will use both feet better than most. But for long shooting, passing, or dribbling, we see her use mostly just the left which is smart. Maybe in some time -and if she ever plays centrally -we’ll see her develop some more comfort with the right for those more difficult plays. (Not many players in WoSo are very good with both feet at every skill -in fact most are pretty bad to be blunt).

  • guest

    Best player: Lavelle
    Very good but learn what offside is: Dunn
    Worst player: Press

    • anon

      Pugh was pretty bad. Press wasn’t great but she didn’t get that many minutes.

    • guest123

      Dunn is not a forward. She doesn’t make good decisions. If Press started the scoreline would probably be 8-0. This game means nothing… Russia is a tomato can.

      • guest


      • HOFCToDi

        Christen Press sucks.

        Christen Press
        International Women’s Friendly
        06 Apr 2017
        USA 4 RUS 0
        Goals 0, Assists 0, Shots Attempted 5, Shots on Goal 0
        Offsides 0, Yellow Cards 1

  • Rdalford

    Orlando Pride have waived forward Sarah Hagen.

    other NWSL teams should have 24 hours to pick up Hagen off waiver wire if they wish
    (if old roster rules still apply)
    NWSL rosters have to be down to 20 by early next week so other teams (who may already have to make cuts to get to 20) may not have available roster spot

    for what it is worth, NWSL site now has “2017 roster rules coming soon” message when accessing the NWSL “roster rules” section. If 2017 roster rules contain similar info to 2016 version, then the details of 2017 NWSL salary cap info should be posted. The increase in player min (to $15K) for 2017 has already been disclosed but will be interesting to see the 2017 team salary cap and NWSL player max salary numbers. Also interesting to see if NWSL has implemented a “designated player” rule of some other sort of adjustment to facilitate bring in higher paid (Marta etc?) players.

    • mockmook

      “other NWSL teams should have 24 hours to pick up Hagen off waiver wire if they wish”

      Prediction: They won’t wish

  • Rdalford

    re Breakers stadium seating adjustments.
    in the past Breakers have constructed bleachers behind each goal (1182 seats behind near goal and 1339 seats behind far goal) in addition to the existing Harvard bleachers (1009 seats) along the main touchline plus 48 at picnic tables, 100 pitch side and xxx standing room (xxx of sr has flexibility since Breakers had over 4000 at some games).

    near as I can tell from Breakers announcement and illustrations, Breakers are keeping some portion of existing Harvard (10 row deep) bleachers on main touchline but constructing larger bleacher sections (20 to 25 rows deep) along the main touchline plus constructing bleachers as before behind the far goal. The 4100 actual seats would be a slight improvement over previous years and I assume they will still have flexibility to sell extra standing room/GA if they have sold out games.

    as a fan, extra seats are OK – but –
    would also like to see access to actual restroom facilities

  • guest123