Portland Thorns season preview: the best is yet to come

Meg Linehan April 12, 2017 149
The Thorns won the NWSL Shield in 2016, but Mark Parsons believes the best is yet to come. (Photo Courtesy Portland Thorns FC)

The Thorns won the NWSL Shield in 2016, but Mark Parsons believes the best is yet to come. (Photo Courtesy Portland Thorns FC)

Portland Thorns FC
2016: 12-5-3, 41 pts (1st place)
Playoffs: Qualified, semifinal loss to Western New York Flash
Head Coach: Mark Parsons
Home Ground: Providence Park

The story of ’16

Last year at this point, after the Thorns hired Mark Parsons away from the Washington Spirit, most pre-season analysis split down the middle: either the Thorns were the team to beat in 2016, or the team wouldn’t gel. The Thorns opted for option A, finishing first in the league and winning the NWSL Shield. Then Portland was one half of what is arguably the most exciting game ever played in the NWSL, their first home semifinal match in the league’s history, in which they were upset by the young Western New York Flash who went on to win the Championship.

Playoff disappointment aside, even with the NWSL Shield, the team did struggle with consistency in 2016, thanks in part to missing its large contingency of international players. The team did enjoy great success at home last season, to the point where Christine Sinclair called Providence Park a fortress during playoff prep last September. The Thorns also had the stingiest defense in the NWSL in 2016, thanks to their backline of Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Menges, Emily Sonnett, and Katherine Reynolds.

{NWSL STREAMING: Games appear headed to Verizon go90 app}

If anyone is expecting more from 2017 from the league as a whole, it’s Thorns head coach Mark Parsons. On Tuesday night during a phone interview, he said: “There’s a lot of quality. It’s going to be every single game. Last year, there’s no way we should have won the Shield. There is no way we should have won the Shield, and it’s almost like, because we won it—that was a freaking overachievement in every essence. Because we have a good roster; I think there are two, three other teams that have rosters as quality as ours, but we’re missing them for five-to-six games! There were teams like Seattle, that were specifically built to be the best in that year. Last year, we felt that every single game was so critical in us reaching our goal.”

So the difference in 2017? “This year, everyone’s here,” Parsons said, almost as if he couldn’t believe it himself, even as he acknowledged a few would miss a handful of games for Euros and other national team commitments. “The strength of everyone!”

What happened over the winter

Portland had a fairly quiet offseason compared to most of the other clubs, but for good reason. Getting the band back together makes plenty of sense after winning the regular season. Notably, starting goalkeeper Michelle Betos departed for Norway, and Adrianna Franch looks ready to take over that role.

To back up Franch, the Thorns traded two fourth-round picks in the 2018 Draft to the North Carolina Courage for Britt Eckerstrom. The Thorns also signed Australian forward Ashleigh Sykes, Golden Boot-winner in the W-League for the 2016-17 season with Canberra United. She won’t officially be added to the roster, however, until June 10th.

The Thorns top two draft picks in Los Angeles this year were Rachel Hill of UConn (14th overall), whom they almost immediately sent to Orlando in exchange for the Pride’s first-and fourth-round picks in 2018. Parsons also had the luxury of using the 18th overall pick on Savannah Jordan of the University of Florida. Jordan is currently playing in Scotland but the Thorns retain her rights.

Player to Watch

Henry weaves her way through the midfield against Germany. (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

Amandine Henry, here playing for France, will have more time to put her stamp on the Thorns team this season. (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

With a roster as stacked as this one, it is hard to single out focus on one player. There are plenty of offensive weapons, a backline entering its second year as a unit, and a mostly-known quantity stepping into the starting goalkeeper role. That said, the Thorns will certainly hope to get the most out of midfielder Amandine Henry, minus the couple of games she will miss this summer due to Euros. As much as Marta is the the big splashy signing of this offseason, Henry was last year’s most impressive acquisition for the league. It’s not that Henry didn’t pay off for the Thorns in 2016, but she stands to play a much larger role in their success for 2017.

(Writer’s note: I did actually select Tobin Heath as my leading candidate for MVP this season. She might have a slow start due to injury this year, but if she can replicate her 2016 performance across more games this year—minus that red card, of course—we might actually see two different names at the end of the year for the MVP and Golden Boot awards.)

Final Outlook

Parsons and the Thorns didn’t need to mess with much. Even if, as Parsons says, the team outperformed what he was expecting last season, there’s plenty of reason to expect a return to the top four and playoffs in 2017. And that’s with the difficulty level getting cranked yet another notch in the National Women’s Soccer League.

The Thorns don’t exactly have an easy launch to season five. Open on national television against the Orlando Pride, then travel to North Carolina to face the Courage, then back home for a Week Three battle against Chicago. That’s not exactly an easy April. “And then after that is a rival game against Seattle,” Parsons said. “This reminds me of last year. I thought our opening schedule,” in which the Thorns opened at home, then did not return to Providence Park until Week Six, “was incredibly difficult. One: in opposition, but two: we were on the road.” He summed up how last year’s start with one word: “Brutal.”

{THE LOWDOWN:  Dan and a few staff members make their 2017 NWSL predictions}

As for this year? “Right now, it really doesn’t matter who’s coming up. It doesn’t matter if we’re home or away. It’s going be a struggle, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be tough over these first three games.” And Parsons isn’t actually expecting much of that fortress-effect from Providence Park for the season kickoff on Saturday, either. “It’s one of those—it’s the other team’s first game, so they’re going to live off the excitement and the crowd. Sometimes it’s almost better to be on the road for that first game, because you keep the home game [for later], if that makes sense.”

Parsons is all Orlando, all the time, right now. “I haven’t even thought about North Carolina. I truly haven’t.”

Best Case Scenario

Best case for Portland is easy:

  1. Repeat as NWSL Shield winners.
  2. Host a semifinal game.
  3. Win that semifinal game.
  4. Add a second star above their crest.

Simple, right? If the team’s backline repeats its 2016 excellence, new No. 1 goalkeeper Franch can step in and hold the line, and the team finds the game-to-game groove they lacked in 2016? Well. Portland’s already going to be a game most dread on the schedule. But they also have a pretty good chance of achieving steps one through four on the to-do list above.

Cause for Pause

Portland Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg (Photo: NWSL)

Portland Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg (Photo: NWSL)

The Thorns are kicking off 2017 carrying a number of injuries. In a 24-game season where every point can and should count, missing key players early might put the team in a tough position as August and September roll around.

And as for updates on some of those injuries? Plenty of attention is on Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan, but Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Katherine Reynolds, and Hayley Raso have all faced issues of their own this preseason. Parsons couldn’t offer much in the way of specifics, but he isn’t expecting a full roster on Saturday afternoon. “No updates. Wait and see. There’s no way every player’s going to be available Saturday, there’s just no way. We’ve got quite a lot in a gray area. We know where they’re at, we know their return to play, we know the steps, but if I took a judge today, I just can’t do it.

“We’re hopeful we can have most everyone available. We don’t know who won’t be yet, it depends on how they react each day.”

  • Steglitz49

    Given that Portland won the very first NWSL championship and in grand style to boot — Tobin’s free kick and only 10 players on the pitch — it is hard to see how the best is to come.

    • DNG

      They could do the double and take home the Shield and Cup in the same year.

      • Steglitz49

        Granted. But it would not be a true Double — and they know it.

  • AlexH

    Off topic, but the Juve-Barca game last night pretty much shows that possession really isn’t all that. What seems to be important is converting opportunities (I’m talking about you Inesta) when you get them. My guess is that it is easier to find people that can bury their chances than to set up an entire offensive scheme (which will completely unravel if your players choke in front of net) so maybe Jill should find those players first and then scheme to their strengths rather than try to find players to find some pre-ordained system.

    • Constant Weeder

      So, if you really want to go there, whom do you nominate to be the next Abby Wambach?

      • Steglitz49

        Carli?

        • AlexH

          Not going forward. But the fact that a player like Carli who has never been fancied by pretty much anybody has been so important to the team shows how important converting opportunities are.

          • Steglitz49

            You could argue that Carli already has superseded Abby, forwards or backwards.

      • AlexH

        Don’t know for sure yet. That’s Jill’s job and she isn’t doing it very well. Dunn seems be at the moment the best of the bunch but that doesn’t necessarily mean that much as the bunch isn’t all that great to begin with

        • mockmook

          Allie Long

      • TsovLoj

        I mean, everyone was saying it was going to be Horan and then they made her a midfielder. So now I have no idea.

        • DNG

          Stupid decision but the Thorns are basically doing the same thing while Sinclair is still able to provide some solid minutes up top.

      • mockmook

        Allie Long?
        Savannah Jordan?

      • #1Fan

        Not sure why you would want another Wambach from a pure soccer playing perspective. If you meant the next great forward, then ok

        • Constant Weeder

          Thank you. I was trying to point out the irony of a poster on this board wanting to return to a strategy based on a target forward, after what seemed like years of snark about “Abbyball”. Personally, I think possession soccer is the only way to progress, and I think Ellis is trying to build a team that is both possession oriented and versatile. The path forward is rarely a straight line.

          • #1Fan

            i think that building a great possession oriented team and massaging the current egos is almost impossible.

            I also think that a period of “rebuilding” is not something USSF want to do in spite of the rhetoric they bast about the long term. They need to keep winning games and so for now they are caught in between.

          • Constant Weeder

            If Ellis can’t convince the big egos that their individual success depends on team success, the team will go nowhere. This is true in all team sports, but none more than soccer.

          • #1Fan

            To date the US have been able to go places in spite of the big egos still putting their own agendas at the fore. Where I agree with you is that going forward, Im not sure this is possible

            The question is does Ellis know this and have the stones to make unpopular changes given the fact that she owes it all to the established veterans? Or do we need a new coach with no ties to come in and make the changes?

            Given the way the YNT Coaching searches went, I am not banking on any new blood coming in to make changes.At one point I was certain there would be. I was totally wrong.

          • DNG

            Ellis will be fired if poor results persist. But, if the last two matches are anything to go by she will probably go back to playing it safe. As to who would replace her if she eventually was fired your guess is as good as mine. Getting enough clout to justify cutting veterans may be difficult even for someone totally new.

          • #1Fan

            im not so sure she will.

          • DNG

            If your interested, I listened to a podcast earlier today hosted by Chris Henderson and Jon Lipsitz where they talked about the youth teams and coaches for the first 23 minutes. Henderson doesn’t really seem to be a fan of the appointments and both agree that the brand of soccer played by the youth teams at the WCs was dreadful. Lipsitz also brought up the point that if we don’t care about the results at the youth levels, and you could say we don’t since we keep on calling up the same kids after they’ve failed, why not just start calling up the most technical and tactically proficient players at the youngest level and work on developing them all the way through. They also talked about how often the kids who are the most physically developed at 14-15 are the ones who are called up and we end up missing on late bloomers and not really giving them a chance.

            https://soundcloud.com/user-295101253/the-woso-independent-episode-18

          • #1Fan

            very interesting. Sounds like they and I share a lot of common opinions.

          • DNG

            Another common theme. US Soccer is not doing what they are saying they want to do.

          • #1Fan

            I am sure there are other posters here who have kids that play. I am sure there are people her who think that I am talking from a selfish self interest PoV. thats ok.

            I disagree with some of what they are saying. There are some athletic kids who are capable of playing at the international level. And you NEED them. Its not either or. We need the “right” mix of talented players not one or the other.

          • DNG

            I don’t agree with everything they said either and I agree with you that it would be foolish for the US not to utilize their athletic advantage at the top level of the game. Japan have to play the way they do because they don’t produce the athletes to compete at the top with the likes of USA, Germany, and France.

            I also think that the US needs to find the best mix and use of both, let’s say a wing or two that can provide what Thomis does and a couple of outside backs that are two way threats with lots of pace and athleticism. And most importantly I think the US needs to keep the player pool as wide as possible at all levels.

          • #1Fan

            I also dont agree with quoting Dorrance as a paragon of development or that the College system produces International level players. They are contradicting themselves.

            I also find it interesting that Pugh and Sanchez who are BOTH attacking players and a huge part of the U-20 system seem to avoid being addressed in any way. And yet they are both highly touted?

            We are developing players. We just dont develop the type of player they covet in the volume that would change the core of the US system

          • DNG

            I don’t think they talked about any players really other than Lavelle. Maybe they should have talked about Pugh since she is a full team player.

            I agree with you on the college system but I think they were more talking Dorrance’s statement that the kids should not be red shirting because it’s better for them to be competing every week against other top college teams. As far as development goes, the best way to develop a player is to put them in a professional environment but I’m not really sure how realistic of an option that is for anyone who isn’t a special player getting a full NT contract coming out of HS or going overseas like Horan. I think they discounted those options as being unlikely for the majority of players. They did praise Swanson and I think Henderson said that’s the team he’s like the US to play like at some point.

            You see a lot more of the youth scene than I do. Is it really that we don’t develop enough technical players at each position, or is it that they are passed over early in the process and lose interest in playing?

          • #1Fan

            Swanson is a class act.

          • Steglitz49

            I agree that red shirting for this sort of level is an abomination and it must be made a punishable offence for NT coaches to demand redshirting.

          • DNG

            I’m also curious about ECNL team selection? Do they also pass over technical players in favor of ‘game changing’ athletic ones. My instinct would be to think that they do.

          • #1Fan

            its very simple. WINNING sells. The pick players that will help them win TODAY. There is nothing more complicated than that.

            Any model built on taking $$ from parents will NEVER be a development model. I have no idea what that is not obvious to everyone.

          • Lorehead

            That said, there are systems elsewhere where a youth coach gets paid when a kid he coached becomes a pro, not when he wins games.

          • Steglitz49

            Is that so for the ladies too.

            The ladies game is so different that most comparisons with the male game are irrelevant and often even simply wrong.

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed. Winning sells. It is so obvious that it is sad for you to need to type it out.

          • #1Fan

            Fitzcamel‏ @fitzcamel 2h2 hours ago

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            Replying to @fitzcamel @JREskilson

            other Q–does it make sense to have Wesley/Wiesner/Godfrey/Canniff do another u17 cycle rather than moving up?

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            J.R. Eskilson‏ @JREskilson 2h2 hours ago

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            I think the plan was always to have them play in two u17 world cups

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            Fitzcamel‏ @fitzcamel 2h2 hours ago

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            right. I don’t doubt that’s been the plan. But should it be?

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            J.R. Eskilson‏ @JREskilson 2h2 hours ago

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            Probably not. But don’t blame new coach for stacking the roster and looking good in first tournament

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            Fitzcamel‏ @fitzcamel 2h2 hours ago

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            no. the follow-up rosters will be more telling.

            A conversation between 2 WoSo peeps on twitter. Its very telling. As you can see the part about “the plan” is interesting vs move up. Remember , these are 14 yr old kids selected to the YNTs . The assumption that its just a logical progression to the Next WC, or upwards to another YNT is just staggering.

            Other kids may improve, these kids may well get worse etc, but somehow thats not even a consideration.

          • DNG

            The practice of selecting kids and planning for them to do 2 cycles makes no sense at all. I can’t believe that any other top NT development program would purposefully restrict the pool of players in that way. Move kids up when they age out or are no longer challenged at a particular youth level. Selecting incumbents on the belief that they will still be the best players in even a year at those ages is foolish. Clearly the priorities of the people in charged are not what they should be. What’s also clear is that the higher ups don’t really care either as long as they get their 2-3 full NT quality players every couple years.

          • Steglitz49

            Most other top NT development programs are in geographically relatively small countries. Sweden and Norway being long and thin obviously have their distance problems, but England, Germany and NL for example, are relatively small. Even France and Spain, which are roughly the same area as Sweden, are square, which keeps distances down.

            The US has three special if not unique challenges: the size of the country, the huge number of girls playing soccer, and, worst of all, the whole money/profit superstructure.

          • #1Fan

            this is something I have been trying to get across when i talk YNTs in the context of the Full NT.

            The selection practices you see at the Full NT level are very similar to those at the YNT level. At the Full level you can argue that the pool has ben seen over and over and this is simply a reflection of the coaches views. But to suggest that at younger ages you already know who will be the best players in 2 years time is just asinine.

          • DNG

            But they could build a very good possession team by bruising a few egos and cutting off the anchor. Lloyd better not win FIFA POTY again. They probably would have been decent enough if they had the foresight to change their lineup a bit last year against Sweden. And I’m talking 1-2 players not 4-5.

          • Steglitz49

            The line-up against Sweden was not the problem. It was their attitude. The USWNT stepped on the pitch expecting a turkey shoot and were faced with lionesses defending their cubs.

            The USWNT turned up to the disco expecting to pull all the hunks without trying while the other gels knew they had to be not just wily but on tiptoe. They were.

          • DNG

            The line up against Sweden was a big part of the problem

          • Steglitz49

            Garbage. It was their attitude.

            Sweden had suffered its biggest ever defeat against Brazil in their group game. It was an embarrassment: it could have been 10-0 instead of just 5-1. They had squeezed past South-Africa by a bizarre goal. Their final game was a draw agreed between the coaches, allegedly. Those turnips appeared even more useless than in WC-15, if that was possible.

            The USWNT expected the Swedes to fold. To bend over and take it. They were faced with a Lars Lagerbäck quality defence. On Swedish TV, after the Brazil disaster, he apparently had made a devastating analysis of how incompetently they had played. No doubt it stung. No doubt the channel sent the video to the players. Maybe Pia sought him ought secretly. Whatever happened it worked.

            Lagerbäack has never claimed any credit for the ladies success in OG-16 but his guiding spirit was there.

            Which US players would you have played?

    • DNG

      “What seems to be important is converting opportunities”

      That has always been the case in this sport since the sport’s inception. The game was not exactly filled with tons of great chances from Juve or Barca. A group of players who can create great chances more often then not score more goals overall than a team with just one exceptional finisher up top. Teams can create great chances with a lot or a little amount of possession but the best teams can break down their opponents consistently.

      Ellis needs to find a couple of great goal scorers and surround them with players who can set the table.

      xG from that Barca Juve match suggests that the performance was probably not as bad as the scoreboard indicated.

      https://twitter.com/Caley_graphics/status/851900048472498180

      • Steglitz49

        Like Sweden in Brasilia?

      • AlexH

        I know it has always been the case but lots of the so called smart people seem to forget this. Find people who can convert first, and then find people who can get the ball to them. It does not matter how.
        The reason that Abby never really went away is that that nobody (but Carli) stepped up to make her irrelevant. The same is happening with Carli now and if the current crop can’t cut it then Jill needs to find somebody that can.

        • Ethan

          I thought the suspensions to Holiday and Rapinoe made Wambach irrelevant. Before then, Lloyd hadn’t been playing well at the World Cup. I suppose you could blame Morgan for prolonging Wambach’s career on the NT. She stepped up and made Wambach relevant.

          • Steglitz49

            Given that without Alex there would have been no WC-11 for the US and no OG-12 final either, on balance Alex comes out more than OK.

        • DNG

          My point is only that the rate of conversion for any striker no matter how good they are is somewhat dependent on the players around them. Special finishers are difficult to find.

          • #1Fan

            Amen. Been reading this and was waiting for someone to poin this out. The thread makes it sound like special finishers are a dime a dozen. They are almost impossible to find.

            The USWNT mistake high volume/ low pct finishers for special ones. They are just blessed with being American at the right time. The you have the possession is 9/10ths of the law theory and you end up with 100+ cap players with loads of goals.

            There is a reason that almost every player who plays in an attacking role has decent scoring numbers. The hard part is getting the chance to play there and then gaining the political cachet to stay there.

        • DNG

          And I firmly believe that the reason Abby never really went away was because she had a lot of star power pull keeping her in the lineup. Lloyd is no different and the assertion that no one is stepping up in her place is laughable. She’s been terrible in every match against quality opponents for over a year now. Poaching goals against overmatched opponents should not be the acceptable standard that earns her more starts.

          • Steglitz49

            Nearly all WNTs are overmatched by the US. Only a couple can regularly put the USWNT to the test. You simply can’t play those all the time, over and over again.

        • Steglitz49

          There is no reason why JE could not leave Alex, Carli and Crystal be in Europe in a for the USWNT meaningless year. It would save them crossing the Atlantic and thereby the USSF money, that could be spent on other players.

          Insisting that they fly may well be to keep them in their place, under the heel. A sort of — Yes, you may go to Europe and earn buckets of money and trophies, but we will make you suffer for it.

      • mockmook

        What the hell am I looking at? 🙂

        • Steglitz49

          The obvious WoSo parallel is the Bomb in Brasilia but that seems too close to the bone for these poor lambs to cope with.

        • DNG

          Shot location plot with probability assigned to each shot(dot).

          • mockmook

            Thanks!!!

      • Steglitz49

        Now find or make one for the OG-16 QF on the Glorious 12th. That verily would be fascinating.

        You need to do two, of course. A second one voided of the refereeing errors.

    • Steglitz49

      The Glorious 12th proved that point last year.

      Only the inept referee crew kept the US from losing in play. Thank goodness for the humble but needful pso.

    • guest

      The point of possession is that the ball moves faster than any player can, making it easy to break teams down if you do it right. Doesn’t even have to be that creative, even with simple passes the ball moves way faster than players. It’s frustrating to watch players try to dribble out of pressure when two simple 1 touch passes in <2-3 second and you're completely free of pressure. This isn't very hard to do – I've seen plenty of youth teams do it. We just have a bad NT coach who doesn't get it, and we keep selecting almost exclusively for players because they are fast dribblers (Leroux, Morgan, Dunn, Pugh, etc.) or are named Carli Lloyd, not talented possession players who know what they want to do with the ball before they get it, and play simple one touch passes.

      • Steglitz49

        The point about possession is that if you have it, the others can’t score.

        • AlexH

          But you can’t have it 100% of the time and as Juve showed yesterday you can do quite a lot of damage with people that can convert during the 30% of the time that you have the ball.

          • Steglitz49

            Like on the Glorious 12th. Remember? I guess it is for the US what 8-1 in 1981 is to Canucks.

      • DNG

        Morgan and Leroux, not players I’d call fast dribblers.

        • Breakers fan

          When they’re moving fast and dribbling what are they called?

          • DNG

            Call them whatever you want but I don’t think Morgan and Leroux are good dribblers. They aren’t players that typically run with the ball unless there is no one in front of them because they aren’t great at keeping it under control

          • Breakers fan

            I’d have to spend time pulling up lots of historical footage of Morgan dribbling to give an assessment I would feel comfortable with. I don’t feel qualified to do so at present. I know what you mean and would say there is at least a seed of truth in it, but I’m not as quick to be as critical as you here. Would want to do the same with Leroux.

          • DNG

            I am probably being unfair by exaggerating some but when we compare either to other players we think of as top dribblers in the women’s game I don’t think they’re close.

          • Breakers fan

            Agree, but do you really care that much? I don’t. If they’re scoring goals, what you play someone at forward to do, then they’re doing their primary job. Of course fine touch dribbling skills will help anyone and I’m sure many times they’ve used the dribble to beat a player but these aren’t the two you are earmarking for fancy dribbling within your side. They’re played to score first and foremost, no matter how they do it. I have to think you’d agree with that.

          • DNG

            I do actually and I’m not really talking about fancy dribbling. I don’t even think they need to be able to dribble past defenders like a top winger would but they should have a better foundation of moving with the ball. I think it would help both a lot if they were better at making simple touches and moving with the ball under control away from pressure or even just to create new passing angles. Some of the stuff we can see Press well. By no means to I think Press is the gold standard but she’s good enough on the ball for it to be an effective tool at the top level.

          • Breakers fan

            But do you care more about seeing these skills or seeing the ball in the back of the net off of their feet? If you’re an aesthete above all you are more about the former. No doubt each of them works on what you’re talking about every day, and will continue to do so. We’ll see how that work has done when we see their play this coming season. I’m sure they do the things you say a good amount of the time also – but you just want it to be better and that’s fine, it’s good -everyone should work at improving. But what they may lack in this regard they provide in other ways, and better than almost all – those skills, the ones that have garnered Morgan the success she has attained obviously need to be recognized and valued. She’s done the job at playing forward in America the last 6, 7 years better than anyone else. You don’t need to talk about minutes played vs. Press – I’m as big a Press fan as you are.

          • DNG

            No but it’s not like the US doesn’t have options that can do both. I don’t think Morgan and Leroux do those simple things well enough to for it to be a consistent and effective at the top level of the women’s game and I’m not convinced they ever will. Horan is another example of a player who can make simple touches to create new angles and move away from pressure and she’s not dribbling past anyone. Morgan has had a good career with the NT but recent play has really left wanting. Like some others have already said here I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Morgan took the opportunity to play for OL. I have no intention of getting in a debate over Press’ usage over her career. She is definitely capable of performing better than she has regardless of usage.

          • Breakers fan

            We have a basic difference in our overall evaluation of Morgan that isn’t going to change and that’s fine. It’ just a difference of opinion. I’m not going to engage anymore in that debate as it’s just a fact – we evaluate her differently – then, now and into the future. I’d be up for Horan tried at forward in a few years.

          • DNG

            “I’d be up for Horan tried at forward in a few years.”

            Why not now?

          • Breakers fan

            Prefer who we have over her now. And I’d want her to get re-acquainted with the position for a few years at Portland. Parsons should get on that. How old is Horan – 22? Plenty of time for her ahead, knock on wood.

          • DNG

            She’s been a pro for 4 years now and played as a forward at PSG. No reason not to give her an opportunity right now imo. She scored more goals than Morgan in the league last year including one in the playoffs.

          • Steglitz49

            Nevertheless, Alex Morgan plays for Lyon while PSG has not rehired Lindsay Horan. Make of that what you will.

          • Breakers fan

            Where do you see Portland playing her this year? If her club team can’t even figure out where to play her then that’s a big problem. You’d want to start there as she can gain 24 games experience at the position if they can simply figure this seemingly obvious thing out.

          • DNG

            No, I don’t really care about her gaining NWSL experience at the 9. She often does some of the role of a true 9 when she plays at ACM for Portland anyway. She’s already started plenty of games at CF in the French league and at the youth level. I don’t care at all whether she plays at the 9 or the 10 or the 8 for Portland. She has experience in the position and that’s all I care about. There should be no reason not to give her a look on the NT.

          • Breakers fan

            What you’re saying, I think, to my question is that you don’t think Parsons will put her there. There’s no question it would help her if she got back to that position both in terms of giving her more experience and in showing Ellis what she can do, so I think you should care at least a little if you want her to maximize her chances of this happening at the national team level. She may have experience at the position and I’d be fine with her getting a look but others on the team have many years more experience playing there and are getting played there by their clubs. Just saying the cards aren’t falling the way they could to help her chances of this happening if Parsons doesn’t play her there. That’s a fact. Play her there, she puts up good goal numbers…..do you think that may open some eyes and increase her chances of being tried at the position with the national team?

          • DNG

            Her job for her club team is to play which ever position they need her in most. While Sinclair is their 9(even if she’s lost a step) Parsons may believe she’s better utilized in the hole. Even if I don’t agree I don’t have an issue with Parsons making this decision. I don’t think Horan playing at the 9 for her club will change her chances much at all anyway. Ellis is going to do what Ellis wants to do. Just like Press, Horan seems to be penalized for being versatile.

            Why does amount of experience matter at all? Rose Lavelle didn’t have any experience when she started against England and still managed to look decent in a position I bet she’s never played before against a good team no less. All of this talk about chances and earning it in training is just complete nonsense in my opinion. The deck is clearly stacked against some players and not others. Heck Lloyd has less forward experience than anyone and we keep trotting her out there.

          • Breakers fan

            Dunn playing forward for Washington helped her immensely with her fortunes re: the NT, and helped her gain a good look at the position with the NT. It would help Horan maybe also immensely but I respect your view of it – that it’s up to Parsons and you’re ok with his decision. Amount of experience I agree doesn’t matter that much with the best players. But gaining it only helps you. It would help Horan but it’s out of your hands. Whether it is “amount of experience” or just playing people out of position but many times players without experience in a position do not do well at it, at least to date – Long at CB, Holiday at DM, Press at midfield less so, come to mind. You’re clearly frustrated – I know the feeling, believe me.

          • DNG

            Different situation. Portland already has Sinclair and they might add Savannah Jordan next year. There are quite a few NWSL teams that I guarantee Horan would be the starting CF if she was there.

          • Breakers fan

            You missed my point. (that NWSL play CAN help a player a lot with the NT).
            About Horan and Portland –Parsons could play her over Sinclair and he didn’t have to draft Jordan. They painted themselves into a corner with Horan, if you wan to look at it that way. Washington didn’t HAVE TO move Dunn out of playing outside back. Ironically it was Parsons there too – he made a strong move and it paid off – nothing stopping him from doing the same in Portland. He could have traded Sinclair in the off-season if he believed strongly enough in playing Horan at striker.

          • DNG

            No he can’t, Sinclair is the biggest player in Portland period considering her college roots. She probably can’t really play any other position at this point in her career as she’s on her last legs and she’s not going to be benched. There is no good reason for them not to take a chance on Jordan in the second round. If you can afford to take the chance you take it on what would likely have been a top 2 overall pick. That’s not painting yourself into a corner that’s smart drafting.

          • Breakers fan

            So Horan will NOT, in Portland get the boost she may need to lead to her increasing her chances of getting a shot at center forward for the national team by showing/reminded/forcing Jill to try her there by displaying her prowess at it in the NWSL. That’s really all I was trying to establish as you make legitimate points about Portland re: Sinclair and Jordan. So in Portland she’s out of luck in terms of the striker position, most likely, for the foreseeable future. Could be that Portland, for this matter, is one of if not the worst place for Horan to play, in terms of her future striker fortunes, albeit I grant that Jill can still try her there. as her past (Horan’s) is known. It’s just that it would be probably a lot more likely if she was showing for 6 months how good she was at it. That is all I’m trying to say here.
            The only reason I mentioned a corner was strictly in relation to Horan playing the #9. I too would want S. Jordan on my team.

          • mockmook

            You can play with two strikers — and, at this point, Sinclair seems better at setting up players than at finishing.

            To me, that is the place Horan is most needed/useful for Portland.

          • Steglitz49

            Hear hear! Verily and forsooth.

          • DNG

            The problem with Sinclair is her legs. She just can’t run up and down the field like she’s 25 anymore so I’m not sure she can cover the ground of a 10. Horan does a lot of pressing and does come back to defend when AL or AH get forward.

          • Steglitz49

            Sin has to be on the field in Portland because of her goddess status. When playing away game they can give her a rest and use her as a supersub.

          • mockmook

            I thought I just said two strikers

          • DNG

            Yeah. They kind of play with Horan playing as a 9.5/10 right now anyway but I don’t really think I see a flat 442 being their optimal formation. I like the 4231 they’re running right now and Horan gets forward when she needs to.

          • Steglitz49

            Press’s Achilles heel is not her skill set. It is her lack of fibre.

          • #1Fan

            I am not nitpicking, but Ive been meaning to say this for a while in general. Pointing out a players style bu saying X is not a dribbler is not( to me) critical.

            A dribbler ( to me) is a player who creates space by dribbling. This usually means BEATING players with the ball at your feet. AM rarely does this. She runs on to balls played into space. Leroux was similar. This isnot to say the cannot beat a player with the ball, but its not their game. Lavelle by contrast seems to want to take player on and beat them.

            Not critical, just observations on differnt players styles

          • Breakers fan

            I agree. My first comment was primarily a joke on terminology – “not a fast dribbler”, “then if they’re going fast and dribbling, which happens, what are they?” Mostly light-heartedness that maybe was missed. My only counter would be that even if they’re clearly not as good at dribbling as others they also aren’t like Shaq shooting a free throw either with it. It’s another thing that is a matter of degree which you also point out. I’m just not super eager to make assumptions about how bad players at this level are at things, what they can’t do, as my suspicion is that they’ll surprise me and be better at it than I assume. But back to my first sentence here – I agree that people like Heath and Lavelle and others are generally better dribblers than Morgan and Leroux, but I think everyone knows that. In the end I think that you and DNG think the latter are worse at it than I do, if we had to compare our feelings on the matter. Not important who’s gauged it more accurately as it’s just 2 opinions out in cyberspace. They’ll play on regardless of what we write, of course.

          • #1Fan

            Worse at what ? Dribbling past players? Its not that I think they are better or worse> im not even sure if thats relevant.

            All I am saying is that its not criticism to point out that Player A s tendencies are not to dribble.

            Necessity breeds invention. The Morgan, Leroux, Williams type players experience success in the US system.

          • Steglitz49

            Top players have the full Monty. Marta is the best example. Always Marta not just mostly Marta.

          • Breakers fan

            Dribbling in general. Maybe you think they’re as good as I do – it was just a guess I made. We;re talking about forwards here – players who have been tasked first with scoring, as I see it. If they can score at every level against any team – we’d need a fairly large sample size to know — to me that passes my Forward Test. I too love The Beautiful Game, but I believe I would take a consistent scorer at forward over a technical forward who consistently does not put up good goal-scoring numbers. That’s the way I look at forwards. I alter when I get to midfield and defense.
            I accept your distinction – that you’re delivering description first with this. It’s how close to reality everyone’s precise description is after that point.

          • #1Fan

            i think the sample size argument with respect ti the USWNT is a poor one becasue it is HARDER to find a forward who has not scored on the team that it is to find ones that have.

            I believe you could put YNT players on the team at forward and they would score vs 90 pct of the teams the USWNT play

            The argument often made (not by you necessarily) is that their numbers on the WNT make them great. The people shift to the whole clutch goal thing , like thats a differentiation. I believe that gaining possession of the jersey is the hard part and its not clear to me what the criteria for doing that are.

            I have done a lot of fact finding on the legendary WNT practices/ speed of play and i have come to a conclusion.You can dismiss it as speculation or question sources etc , thats fine . But here it is

            Its a myth. Its not speed of play as such that the new players find hard. Its the fact that everything is done in a press type setting. So everyone is fit, everyone presses the ball and everyone is desperate to move the ball up field as fast as possible.

            Thats not speed of play to me. That is just players not being accustomed to handling a press type setting when playing with players whose movement they dont really know. Its also a reflection of the fact that we dont have players in enough numbers who are so comfortable on the ball or enough off the ball movement for options that can render such a tactic useless by passing around it or by keeping the ball well enough to expose gaps.

            Stick with me on the above. So player A comes in, gets ball in scrimmage, has limited options and loses it. Its not that the ball is pinging around so fast in practice that player A cannot get involved. Thats NOT happening.

            I hope you follow what I trying to say because I have gone off at a bit of a tangent.

            Back to the forwards. I am not assessing any of them. They are all successful in their own way. Some are just more dribble first, some are more get in behind types No biggie either way.

          • Breakers fan

            RE:Sample size – just referring to trying to figure out if a forward is a good scorer or not – includes club(s), and country.

            The rest of your post is very interesting. I believe I understand what you’re saying. And I appreciate whatever fact-finding you have done here. Sounds like you have your sources that are reliable – is that fair to say?
            Seems you’re trying to describe what their practices are like, what happens in them. And that when newcomers talk about how the speed of play is beyond anything they’ve ever encountered before — something we often hear — that it’s due to how much pressing is going on primarily, not because the passing and movement is so good. My reactions would be:

            a) with what you describe are you talking about that happening in mostly like 7v7 in a fairly small space drill, or full-field scrimmages, or both?
            b) This same pressing that Ellis encourages in these drills, does her team keep that up, do it as vigorously in the games they play?

          • #1Fan

            Very reliable

            Competitive drills and practice matches

            Not in an organized way.

          • Breakers fan

            Almost sounds like some kind of fraternity initiation ritual. “Hound ’em with extreme pressure, see how they cope.”

          • #1Fan

            its not that. Its just an extension of how 90 pct of the game is play in the USA. Its high speed blood and guts game. Its not a slower paced chess game. Everything is done at 100 mph even if its done badly.

            A DNG says you see this from the full team.

          • mockmook

            “Everything is done at 100 mph even if its done badly.”

            You do want to test your limits sometimes and acclimate to doing things ever faster.

          • #1Fan

            I get that, but in soccer it often helps to control the tempo of the game. you dont need to try and force it forwards as fast as possible all the time.

            It explains why we value beep tests and athleticism so highly

          • Breakers fan

            Very well-described. I think they, the Americans, do it ok, but I agree that there is too much of a premium on playing really fast. No doubt it’s intentional – in that they feel like they’re playing to their own strengths compared to the other teams – but the feeling that you *have to* play this way is worrisome and bothersome. I don’t like that feeling of “have to”. The Japanese, for one, show that you don’t always have to play that way.

          • #1Fan

            the word i was looking for is its rushed. even when slowing the pace a bit would be a much better option.

          • Breakers fan

            Yes. Remember when both of us tried to think of what the U20s were doing wrong, at times? The feeling I got when watching, and you agreed, was that they were sometimes, too often, impatient. The same thing as your “rushed”, used here.

          • DNG

            Not just the U20’s but the U17’s and the full team as well outside of a few players, one of which who is almost always criticized for slowing down play.

          • Breakers fan

            I agree. I get the feeling that they’re afraid that if they’re not always pushing, pushing (though you do see the defenders taking their time more than the other lines) that their speed advantage will have gone to waste. I don’t want to suggest they’re always in this mode but I would say they’re in it too often. I know you’re referring to Heath and though I was a fan of hers long before it was fashionable the thing that bothers me about her is not so much slowing play down at times but keeping the ball herself too much at times – when she does that it seems a bit selfish, egocentric to me, that she wants to put on a show for the crowd with her dribbling prowess, when she could just pass the ball but she only does this on occasion, and otherwise I’m a fan.

          • DNG

            She usually does not do showy dribbling moves unless her team has the game in hand and she is killing the clock. I don’t think you saw her trying anything ‘cute’ in the march matches for example. Tobin is not a selfish player even if she sometimes could do a better job of keeping her head up when dribbling. Most of the time though I like her decision making with regards of when to keep the ball and when to move it. But she occasionally does hold onto the ball too long.

          • Breakers fan

            I concur with this. It’s not so much showy dribbling moves, it’s more just holding onto the ball too long that I think is an error sometimes with her, which I see you also feel happens. By and large I think she’s an excellent player and doesn’t do this all that often. The showiness doesn’t always come out but I think it may be in her mind to try to impress if the chance presents herself, as she is holding onto the ball (too long). The good thing with her is that she has good ball control skills and that this issue is completely within her power to control should she choose to. It’s not some eternal condition she is beset with.

          • DNG

            And I think this is also where we have differing views. Most of the time when I see her hold onto the ball, I think she’s doing it because of: 1. lack of passing options or 2. The attacking situation in unfavorable. She then decides to hold the ball to wait for attackers to come into the play.

            The American way of attacking is built on the principal that you should always play that cross or dangerous pass even if there is a low chance of the play coming off because the alternative is that the defense will be able to set itself if you do not. I think this kind of single minded attack with no variation is the wrong way to approach the game in my opinion. Great teams have no problem accepting when a direct attack or counter is not on and holding up the ball to bring numbers up to break down an organized defense.

            I am actually far more frustrated when Heath, Pugh, Dunn or whoever cross a ball or plays an over the top ball to an isolated forward surrounded by 3-4 defenders because a very high percentage of those passes turn into turnovers.

          • Steglitz49

            The harsh reality is that there are only a couple of NTs that the USWNT does not dominate and sometimes even those that they do dominate manage to pull off a surprise, like Colombia and Sweden.

            Another way of looking at this is, that the ROW is catching up. With the money that the rich men’s teams and leagues are prepared to plow into WoSo, it is not surprising that other NTs are getting good. The college route to the WC and OG-gold may no longer suffice not least when some of the rules in NCAA (such as the subs) makes it a different game.

          • Breakers fan

            I like what you wrote and agree with it – it’s perceptive, some very good points – but I was responding to you your quote “Sometimes I think she holds onto the ball too long” in my assumption that you would agree with me in saying “sometimes she holds onto the ball too long.” Your message here hints that she never does. Do you think she has any ego about trying to show people how good she is on the ball, and thus at times holds onto it too long or do you think her decision-making is always spot-on? When you wrote that you think she holds onto the ball too long at times why do you think it’s ever wrong for her or anyone to dribble a lot if they don’t see any open players? (Note that I do think it’s wrong sometimes for a player to dribble too much, as Heath can do, just seeing why you also think it’s wrong sometimes) What is the downside to “endless” dribbling? Your post here was basically totally defending what Heath does, that she never is at fault, while earlier you said you did have criticisms of her. Implicit in your view also is the idea that Heath sees all that there is, that she doesn’t miss runs or open players. And I have to think that a youtube or tv shot of the game will not include the picture of the entire field so we really have no way of knowing if Heath is making the right decisions a good amount of the time, if she is bypassing a good run by a teammate or an open player because the tv angle doesn’t cover it. You’re trusting that Heath is viewing everything optimally.

          • mockmook

            Dear Breakers fan,

            You need to become acquainted with the term “generalization”.

            When someone says: “Player X always does Y”, they know that isn’t true, that it is only frequently true.

            The preceding is an example of the use of “generalization”.

          • Breakers fan

            Thank you for interceding and attempting to be helpful. I am aware of the concept you raise and if I agree with a poster, *to some extent, *I say so. The concept I have often brought up is that of “degrees” of truth because I think it’s important to not say things are black and white. They are presented that way fairly often, as posters have acknowledged, thus my pointing out that the matter isn’t as simple as that. If the poster agrees the poster should say so, It’s not hard to say exactly what you think a truth is . What spurred his last post was me saying “I see that you agree with me that I think she SOMETIMES holds onto the ball too long” because he wrote “sometimes she holds onto the ball too long” to which he replied, if you read it, “we disagree about Heath holding onto the ball too long”. The only point of agreement I was trying to get acknowledged was an exact quote we both made about Heath’s play. I am in complete agreement that sometimes it’s right of her to hold onto the ball as long as she does for the reason we both feel, and I’ve said that for a few years about her. However I don’t think she’s always right to do what she does, something DNG also said in his prior post then appeared to flip-flop or something about it. If you read my post it also compliments observations he otherwise made about this topic.

          • DNG

            In my defense I qualified with most often. I would never claim that a player never makes mistakes.

          • DNG

            I don’t think she holds the ball too long often enough for me to think it’s a problem. There are just time where she does in individual plays where it’s frustrating. I think she’s trying to entertain the crowd and have fun. I have no idea if ego plays any part of it. If it does I don’t think it gets in the way of her putting the team first. I never said always, I clearly said most of the time as it relates to her holding onto the ball.

            “What is the downside to “endless” dribbling? Your post here was basically totally defending what Heath does, that she never is at fault, while earlier you said you did have criticisms of her.”

            Endless dribbling is quite the hyperbole no? Okay I’m open to responding to example of endless dribbling if you wish to provide some. Again I never said she always makes the right decisions.

            “And I have to think that a youtube or tv shot of the game will not include the picture of the entire field so we really have no way of knowing if Heath”

            I can see plenty of the field from the camera’s to feel comfortable judging her decision making. She’s often one of the furthest players up the pitch so we can see the runners in front of her most of the time.

          • Breakers fan

            I’m a big Heath supporter. I only responded the last time because when I said “I see you agree with me that she sometimes holds onto the ball too long” your response was “this is something we see differently” — namely that sometimes she holds onto the ball too long. Since we both said it we are in agreement about it whether or not you actually want to write the words “I agree with you that sometimes she holds onto the ball too long,” Now, it’s a matter of how often she does it, if it’s a problem. I don’t know. I don’t watch Portland enough to know. Whether she is a great decision-maker, reads the field well, and how often she does, again, I don’t know. I was just pointing out that it’s possible you miss things on tv or that you don’t always acknowledge everything going on every time she gets the ball. Maybe you do. Maybe you freeze and rewind plays every time Heath is involved and find she is a superlative decision-maker time and time and time again. If you do, good for you for taking the time to do that. Again, I like her and often feel she is playing well, which means making good decisions. I just was seeking something you already gave but evidently didn’t want to state a second time in plain words. That being only that SOMETIMES she holds onto the ball too long – a quote you made earlier today.

          • DNG

            I’m a picky evaluator of all players. So when I say sometimes I’m acknowledging that it happens, not that it’s a problem. I don’t think it’s an issue for her club team of the NT. I think she gets her decisions right enough of the time for me to think she’s a good player. I do not go over every single play involving her in minute detail. I just don’t have that kind of free time and I don’t think it’s necessary.

          • Breakers fan

            We see her the same way. All I was doing was pointing out an imperfection, a flaw that we both see in her. Question: Would you LIKE her to improve in this area? Or stay the same? Is it fine to go on doing something poorly if you just try to limit how often you do it? To just say “That’s me, the person who holds onto the ball too long occasionally”? What’s happening here is what happens when you critique Morgan more than I’m comfortable with. I defend her, as you strongly defend Heath. So I get it and I’m fine with it. I like people defending their favorite players as they become one’s favorites by how good one thinks they are.

          • DNG

            My issues with Morgan are about the type of player she is in general. I definitely also nitpick specific plays but it’s really her play overall that I’m not a huge fan of. I’m sure some have similar opinion about Heath and others.

          • Breakers fan

            You didn’t answer my question about whether you hoped Heath would improve her weakness in this area so I can only assume you’re fine with her not trying to work on her game in this area. Surprising considering your high standards and your wish that players improve in their areas they could work on. As you know I’m well aware already of your feelings about Morgan, despite all of her success. You have strong stylistic preferences; and you have a vision that jibes with these. You think the team would be better without her. I don’t really share that view, though I do think we have other quite capable forwards. I rate Morgan a lot higher than you do, in contrast to Heath who I think we rate about the same.

          • DNG

            I don’t see it as a huge weakness she can always improve. I’m against telling good dribblers to dribble too much less, my advice to her would be to play a little more direct. As it is I don’t have an issue with how she plays though.

            I do think the team might be better without her but I’m not positive. I just want to see options other than Morgan Leroux and Williams tried. To me they are basically versions of the same type of player. I’m with #1Fan on the forward thing. It’s tougher to find us forwards that don’t score for the NT. Credit to Morgan for her history though I hope she proves me wrong in Lyon.

          • Breakers fan

            What you said about Heath there was “She has a weakness, but it’s a small one, in my view, and one she “CAN” improve, but I’m fine with her not improving in this area”, which basically says that the way you view good players is that it’s ok if they have a weakness as their successes elsewhere make up for it. That you are not going to really even mention the weak parts of a player’s game if they do other things very well. Each good player is allowed a flaw. That’s fine with me, though in contrast I do think they should work on weaknesses, that they shouldn’t be complacent. Let me ask for a soccer translation: When you say I wish Heath would play a little more direct do you mean I wish she would dribble a little less? Define in actual physical soccer actions what “more direct” means to you, as that is an abstract term by itself.

            Let’s please not equate Morgan Leroux and Williams until the latter 2 do what the former has done. Theory is one thing, (that all would do what she did if given the same minutes), actions are quite another. Everyone can come up with a theory to bolster his views. I’m not nearly as big as you are on “types”. Too much individual variation within a type for me to use that word and have it mean enough to me. Similarities, yes, but so much goes into what makes a great player – mental make-up being a significant factor that is overlooked at times.

            Lyon is happening but it’s a tiny part of Morgan’s career and will soon be over. I hope she has a good few last games as well. What I hope also is that she does well way beyond the next month or so.

          • DNG

            Every player should always be trying to improve but that doesn’t necessarily mean making their weaknesses less of a weakness. They can focus on improving their strengths as well. When I say be more direct, I want her to run at her defender with speed more often and take a bit more initiative to make things happen. I categorize direct play as making as few moves as possible(generally not literally) to move the ball towards the opposition goal. I just want her to be more decisive all the time.

            I’m not equating Morgan, Leroux, and Williams’s history, I’m equating their skills which are very similar. They all play way more like each other than any do compared to Press or Horan. I don’t see much difference at all in how they attack defenses. All of their go to moves seem to be to try and get in behind.

            She has an option to go back to Lyon next year I think.

          • Breakers fan

            When I think of what I disagree with I’ll get back to you. Hope you can take a joke!

          • Lorehead

            I remember that Amber Brooks, in particular, said she was told she needed to pass the ball faster and more often as a DM.

          • Nild

            As a third party that is enjoying this conversation I have to say you come off as unnecessarily aggressive? As well that you keep repeating you’re a big Heath supporter which no one has questioned you about, but it may push others to think the opposite.. I don’t know if that was your intention. But those are just my two cents. Carry on!

          • Breakers fan

            Check my earliest posts on this site from several years ago if you doubt my Heath fanship. At the time I was one of the few people advocating for her to get more time on the NT. The archive is available for you to check if you care to. My frustration with DNG today came from us saying the exact same thing, but then him saying we disagreed about it. Imagine you saying “The sky is blue” and then i say “The sky is blue, I think that’s something we can agree on” and then you retort “That’s something we disagree about.” How would you react?

            I, as he has said also, feel that Heath is both right and wrong in her dribbling forays. There are times when it’s quite right that she doesn’t just get rid of the ball for the sake of it, and I think there are times when she holds onto it too long and I state what I theorize is behind that. What do you think about this topic? Is Tobin ever too selfish or unwise with the ball, in your opinion?

          • Breakers fan

            Not sure if you know but we have a fairly extensive history of discussing and disagreeing about things soccer, though certainly not everything. But the point is that there is a history and some emotion built up over time from these past discussions and how they went. Those also are available for viewing if you care to see them. My advice would be to focus on the points I’m making and how they relate to what I’m responding to, and not get too swayed by whatever emotion you feel. By the way, do you happen to be first and foremost a Thorns fan? That could explain at least partially why your hackles are up here about Tobin and any discussion of any possible occasional weaknesses in her game.

          • Breakers fan

            Just so you know my enjoyment of Tobin goes back to her UNC days.

          • Breakers fan

            Last comment – also, today, I am super annoyed about this whole NWSL streaming thing and the numerous and ongoing difficulties I am running into as I try to get a system to see the games operational. That has probably contributed to the pique I am feeling…

          • Nild

            Yeah I can see that. You kinda proved my entire point there. But still those were just observations. Chill out maybe? 🙂

          • Breakers fan

            I can try that, thank you. But I didn’t write all that other stuff to you to amuse myself, so I’d also be curious to know — do you believe that I have been a Heath fan for years?; are the Thorns your favorite team? do you think Tobin is above reproach as a soccer player? and can you see the origin of my frustration in this conversation, considering how it started?

          • Nild

            1) you say you are so I believe you.
            2) no.
            3) no.
            4) honestly? No. It’s just a disagreement. I personally would focus that frustration on the absence of the nwsl app.

            It seems my original comment caused offense? I wasn’t trying to imply in any way that I disapprove of you.

          • Breakers fan

            1) thank you
            2) surprised but glad to see, in this context
            3) good
            4) the disagreement was a complete verbatim agreement that morphed into a disagreement due to a love of arguing and a strong aversion to admitting agreement, about virtually anything. That’s what frustrated me.

            Your original comment called for an explanation, multiple explanations, that I gave, including self-critical ones, so that’s that I tried to provide.

          • #1Fan

            when you attack, what is often lost tactically is that you NEED other players to move WITH you or you become isolated. When you attacking plan is one player going as fast as they can with the ball OR playing over the top , you created isolations. Its either hero or zero.

            You need to allow numbers to get forward to create options. At this point pure speed becomes useless and tempo and timing become more important. Pure speed only really helps with recovery when beaten and driving into open space. To use pace as a forward when your team has the ball ,you either need really incredible individual dribbling OR other players who can find you in space.

            You can also use speed to play a pressing , trapping game to create turnovers in key areas and play from there _ press / counter.

            Either way, I feel we select fast players because they are fast, not because we actually have plan to actually use them

          • DNG

            “You can also use speed to play a pressing , trapping game to create turnovers in key areas and play from there _ press / counter.”

            This is what the US team has relied on recently along with just sitting off and countering. I know you know this but for those who don’t, it is a strategy that does not work anywhere near as well against a team content to just kick the ball back to you. Even Klopp has even had some of the same problems with Liverpool this year struggling to break good defenses down.

          • Steglitz49

            Are you Lars Lagerbäck by any chance? Or his spiritual sibling?

          • DNG

            “So player A comes in, gets ball in scrimmage, has limited options and loses it.”

            That’s not just practice either. We can see this clearly in the games as well. Our central players just don’t move the ball well enough and we end up relying on the wings to pinch centrally to connect to the forwards and push the OBs way up the pitch. At SBC nothing forward ever seemed to be open no matter with three players Ellis stuck on top in the 343. Not enough of the US players are capable of comfortably playing one touch passes to speed up tempo when needed for me to think they can play out from the back against any team.

          • #1Fan

            so you understand what I mean about the whole speed of play thing. Its not what you and I know speed of play to be.

          • DNG

            I do and no it’s not a fair test of a player’s ability. We can start with the fact that NO other team in the world presses like the US does. So I’m just going to throw it out there that not being able to beat the US press does not mean you can’t make it at the international level. And I think you also already touched on this but how does anyone new coming in look good when the deck is stacked against them coming in? Of course the players that have been playing with each other for years are going to be more comfortable working with each other. That’s not something you can force over the course of one camp even if it’s a long one.

            It actually makes me wonder how much Allie Long playing in Portland with Heath, Horan, and Klingenberg helped her in these training environments. I would guess that it probably helped her a lot when she finally go the chance to prove herself again.

          • Steglitz49

            Sometimes you must needs have players who can dribble. The lack of such was exposed in OG-16. It is up to JE to find them, test them and select the best of the bunch.

          • DNG

            I agree good dribblers to me are players that go past and create space consistently. Although like I said in my comments to Breakers fan I’d be content if AM, SL and other similar CFs could create a little space by just being more comfortable moving with the ball and making good passes off those movements

          • Steglitz49

            Orlando will have Marta. She may not have the blinding acceleration of 12-15 years ago but she is still more than OK.

        • guest

          that’s true. morgan and leroux try to run behind a team’s defensive line to receive the ball then touch the ball once and shoot. they are not effective take-on dribblers.

      • Breakers fan

        Well-said, though you imply that if in charge Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan, to name 2 of the 4 you mentioned, wouldn’t be on your national team. Is that an accurate reading of that part of your post? To each his own, just trying to get a read on how you evaluate talent vis-a-vis the pool available.

    • Ethan

      Yet players go through periods of form. They may be able to bury their chances now, but they might not consistently do so later on. Plus, what’s the point of having a very clinical finisher if you’re failing to create clear chances. I’m not a fan of overly possessing the ball, but trying to get the US to improve their set up and combination play is a good thing.