Thorns beat Pride in front of 16,000 plus in Portland

Allison Lee April 15, 2017 79
Christine Sinclair celebrates with Hayley Raso after scoring in the Thorns' season opener. (photo courtesy Portland Thorns)

Christine Sinclair celebrates with Hayley Raso after scoring in the Thorns’ season opener. (photo courtesy Portland Thorns)

It was an historic day in Portland as the Portland Thorns defeated the Orlando Pride, 2-0, in the league’s first ever Lifetime Game of the Week. The game took place before an audience of 16,125 fans, the largest home opening Thorns crowd since their inaugural home match in 2013.

Despite putting 9 shots on goal, the Pride just couldn’t find the back of the net. That’s partly because of a lack of finishing–they seemed to be sorely missing Marta today–and partly because of Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch who, after having a rough start and making a number of dangerous blunders, made several big stops to deny the Pride. After one early flub nearly resulted in a goal by Jasmyne Spencer, some fans at home dubbed Franch the game’s difference maker, and they were right, although perhaps not the way they expected. Luckily for the Thorns, Franch decided the match in their favor, earning the clean sheet and their first three points of the season.

Ashlyn Harris, in net for the Pride, had a couple of brilliant moments herself, especially in the first half. In the 16th minute, Franch distributed the ball over the entire field, and Christine Sinclair ran onto it. Harris came off her line as Sinclair moved into position, but Harris was able to block Sinclair’s shot with her body to keep the second all-time leading international goal scorer off the board. Seven minutes later, Sinclair was again moving in for a ball played over the field, Ali Krieger racing alongside to defend, but Harris came off her line and got to the ball first with a diving header clearance.

The Pride goalkeeper would be unable to keep the Thorns off the board for the entire first half though, as Nadia Nadim put Portland up a goal in the 32nd minute. Alanna Kennedy, acquired by the Pride in an off-season trade, was called for a handball in the box, and the Thorns were awarded a penalty kick. Nadim, who led Portland in scoring last season, stepped to the spot and put the ball just left of center as Harris dove right.

Although they did not have a bad first half, the Thorns proved much more dangerous in the second, especially Allie Long. Long tallied an assist after battling with Maddy Evans for the ball, earning the turnover and moving the ball down towards goal. Sinclair made a run just to her left, and Long split a pair of defenders with a perfectly-weighted pass to the forward, who easily put it past Harris to double the Thorns’ lead.

While the Pride is still experiencing some obvious growing pains, trying to build a high-caliber roster in just its second season, there is a lot of potential in the roster. The additions of Marta, reportedly in time for next week’s home opener against the Washington Spirit, and Alex Morgan, scheduled to return in June, should help bolster the Pride attack.

In comparison, the Thorns seemed to pick right back up from last season, barely skipping a beat. And that was without Tobin Heath, Katherine Reynolds and Dagny Brynjarsdottir, all of whom were sidelined with injuries, something that has plagued the Thorns in both the off-season and preseason. Once the team is back to full-strength, they seem poised to make yet another run for their second NWSL Championship.

The Thorns (1-0-0, 3 pts.) next hit the road to take on the North Carolina Courage, while the Pride (0-1-0, o pts.) returns to Orlando for their season opener against the Washington Spirit on Saturday, April 22. The Orlando-Spirit match will be the Pride’s first match in their new Orlando City Stadium and will be next weekend’s Lifetime Game of the Week.

  • DNG

    Thorns’ defense and Franch looked real shaky in possession but they created the better chances overall.

    • Arcie Tillydee

      Very shaky for the first half hour, then progressively better. By the end of the game, a lot better.

      But man, those first 30 minutes were rough. Klingenberg was a turnover machine at first, and Franch was clearly off (and seemed to get more nervous the more mistakes she made). AD looked miles better in the second half, though.

      • DNG

        Sonnett and Menges haven’t played a competitive game in almost 6 months. It’s going to take a couple matches for them to get sharp. Franch’s decision making is very worrying to me though. She doesn’t​ seem to make decisions fast enough and might not be able to reliably play from the back Sonnett and Menges are works in progress in that respect too.

        • Terry Lash

          Agree. The Thorns need to see big improvements from both France and Sonnet, in particular.

        • Arcie Tillydee

          The players I saw making the most (or, perhaps, most dangerous) mistakes yesterday were (in no particular order) Franch, Sonnett, and Klingenberg. I don’t have issues with Menges’ play out of the back, but I definitely agree her interplay with Sonnett isn’t quite back to last year’s standard. I don’t expect it to take long. If Franch hadn’t stepped things up demonstrably in the second half, I’d be clamoring to start Eckerstrom.

          Out at RB, I’m by no means convinced Kat Reynolds’ spot in the 11 is safe when she’s fully fit. Boureille got torched a couple times on pure pace, but was basically quite solid.

          • DNG

            I’m worried about Franch. It wasn’t just the bad decision and mistakes with her feet. It’s also that I’ve seen her look indecisive on where to go with the ball and get trapped in the preseason.

            Including Menges was more of a general thing and she didn’t make any big mistakes and played pretty safe. I think she still needs to do more in order to get out though generally speaking. Sonnett looked less composed than she did all last season. Reynolds is probably the more solid defender while Boureille is better on the ball so I’m guessing parsons goes with Reynolds when healthy but who knows

      • Observed

        Thorns will not win games vs the really tough opponents with Franch in goal. I see why Parsons always started Betos last year.

      • Lorehead

        It’s not just 30 minutes of one game, though. She made mistakes in preseason, too, and hasn’t been the regular starter since 2013. Some of those mistakes weren’t acceptable. Although Michelle Betos made some costly mistakes that dropped points, too, and even Nadine Angerer. That said, Franch played well enough to get the clean sheet, which is what you really ask of a goalkeeper, and looked good in the second half. Let’s hope she returns to her 2013 form.

        • Terry Lash

          Good luck.

        • DNG

          I think the Thorns might want to think about looking for a different keeper regardless. They need a goalkeeper who’s good with her feet if they always want to play from the back.

          They could also tell Lindsey to play up top more and just go direct to her in order to get teams to back off the pressure.

        • Steglitz49

          Michelle has chosen to play for Vålerenga, a club in Oslo, the capital of Norway. Let’s trust she enjoys herself there and it is profitable.

          Franch and Short rebuilt their careers after injury in Norway playing for Avaldsnes, though Casey was there longer and played more and made the 1st XI of Toppserien.

          • Lorehead

            I wish her the best wherever she goes, too. Always a Thorn!

          • Steglitz49

            I was hoping you might have some inside info, like a member of her family had moved to Norway or she has fallen for some Viking.

          • Lorehead

            No, sorry. I don’t. She said a little publicly when she left. My best guess is that the Thorns (like the Timbers last year) had two keepers who were too good to be backups, and decided that wasn’t an efficient use of their salary cap. They kept the one Jill Ellis was willing to pay for.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. Makes sense.

            Let’s hope it goes well for Michelle with Vålerenga and may there is a Viking ir two lurking in the woods …

          • TsovLoj

            The real question to me is why USSoccer is willing to subsidize Franch. Like, she’s not WNT quality and I think that’s pretty obvious at this point.

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe they wanted her back from Norway. They allocated Casey so maybe they felt they had to be evenhanded and do likewise for the other lass playing for Avaldsnes?

  • Jim

    Why is Long playing Henry position? Switch them. Let Allie attack.

  • Lake

    The thorns looked great in the second half. And that’s without Tobin Heath playing. It will be scary for other teams when she comes back.

    • guest

      Tobin isn’t that good. sorry. THey can do without.

      • Guest

        You really don’t think she’ll make their offense even better? Yikes.

        • Alex

          Maybe he/she is just a huge Mallory Weber fan?

          • mockmook

            Really uncalled for to poke fun at his/her weight…

      • Miami66

        Belated April Fool’s joke… right?

        • ABCDE

          yeah, no. She’s not a threat on goal and Thorns play her as a scorer.

          • guest

            though heath is always a threat as a flopper around the 18.

          • DNG

            The Thorns don’t really play her as a scorer. Just because she’s a winger doesn’t mean her primary role is to get on the end chances in front of goal. She not that great at scoring in any case but that definitely isn’t her role for the Thorns or the NT.

        • Lake

          You’re replying to trolls. Block users who aren’t registered. It’s very helpful.

      • Arcie Tillydee

        Anonymous guest babby’s first soccer…

    • Movement

      They’ll need Tobin to win it all.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBiDObraMxU

      • mockmook

        Easily the most entertaining and well played match of this young season.

        To be honest, it was the announcers who appeared to be rusty.

        • DNG

          I think I actually enjoyed SBFC vs SRFC more. This match was had some difficulty developing a good rhythm.

          • mockmook

            You really should watch a bit of the game via Movement’s link — you may be surprised by what you missed.

          • DNG

            Haha I didn’t even bother to check it. Still the SBFC and SRFC match was great

          • mockmook

            This “exercise” does make one wonder how much announcers actually analyze the game in front of them versus just blathering on based on a preconceived “script”

          • DNG

            Tbh I think most casual fans like that not too critical or too deep analysis. I’d prefer they all just talk less. I don’t need to hear the call out every pass

      • mockmook

        Tobin would have schooled anyone else on that pitch…

  • Bill

    I thought:

    Thorns defense looked shakey. Sonnet in particular looked

    Franch would have been in big trouble had Marta or Morgan played or both. Has a lot of judgement errors and trouble distributing. GK is the Thorns weakness

    Henry is terrific.She was their MVP. Liked several Kling plays

    I know Long had shots on goal but she continues to be a very uneven and annoying player. Notice the Pride tried to pressure her every possession.

    Felt like Krieger disappeared.

    Would a midfield of Heath, Henry, Horan and Long would be formidable if they played a 4-4-2? ( Sinc and Nadim in the 2 slots)

    • mockmook

      Who are your wide mids?

      • guest

        horan i guess?

    • Donjerue

      Agree that the GK are the BIG ???’s…Franch is athletic, but every time she has to handle a bal and distribute I shudder….

      • Terry Lash

        France was uneven. She is, so far, a step down from Betos.

    • Terry Lash

      Sonnet made several mistakes unworthy of a NWT member. Hope she gets it together very quickly.

    • DNG

      No for your last question. Henry, Horan and Long are all central players. None of them have the pace to play on the wing regularly. 433/4231 is the best formation for them.

      • Bill

        Thanks DNG

      • mockmook

        Hey DNG,

        How did the go90 app use/present advertising for the games?

        • DNG

          I haven’t seen any advertising so far actually. Maybe it’s not set up yet but there have only been breaks at half time where it goes to this screen that says we will return shortly after this commercial break.

          • mockmook

            Thanks!!!

            Maybe no advertiser has signed on yet

          • DNG

            Definitely possible. This all seems like it was done very last minute so I’m not exactly surprised.

          • Bruce

            go90 model us to pay content providers (mainly) per ad view. Not a good sign.

    • TsovLoj

      Seconding Henry for woman of the match for Portland today, no question.

      • Timber Dave

        Sinclair was majestic, scoring one goal and earning the PK that led to the game-winning first goal. (And if that handball in the box hadn’t happened, Sinclair was in prime position to score the goal.) Long and Henry were both terrific too.

    • Alex

      Agree with almost all of this, apart from on Long who I thought had a good game for the most part. Kling was looking back to her 2015 self so its going to be interesting to watch if she can keep that up all season.Henry bossed the midfield and will likely do that most games now she’s all settled in.

      • Bill

        Alex, I agree that Long did some very proactive things. She also seemed a deliberate target of Orlando to strip the ball each time she got it; especially in the first half.

        I just find her such an uneven mixture from play to play and game to game.

        Maybe giving her the benefit of the doubt that is because her effort leads to the positives despite slow judgement and athleticism which shows up on other plays. No doubt she does put in the work.

        To me, the same mistakes or “jumpiness” in a less experienced player is a learning experience. Eh? Not every player on every team can be a superstar

    • mockmook

      What do you want a CB (Krieger) to do to get noticed? Be like Sonnett?

      • Bill

        Do you think she had the same speed she used to? Did you see her on the offense at all? ( In my eyes, Kling did try to tilt to offensive advantage when that was available. Now i dont have the eyes for the game to see all the players all the time so maybe I missed Kriegers attempts at contribution or maybe her team did not afford the kind of contributions I saw from her in the past).

        To me she was and maybe still is a very good player who was a positive factor in the game. I did not see that yesterday. Did you?

        To me, watching our national team level defensive and midfield talent to see signs of positive growth or return to past peaks is important for those are weak areas on the NT

        • Steglitz49

          Age creeps up on all of us

        • Tom

          Krieger was probably one of the fastest in the game yesterday. For playing the CB position she did well in starting several offensive plays whether to the midfield or directly to the forwards. Unfortunately, Pride has some big issues at the front and in the middle.Weatherholt, Spencer, Ubagog, Camilla despite her best efforts couldn’t put it away. I have no idea where Monica or Edmonds were during the game.

          • Bill

            Good to know. My observations were based on seeing her turn around and not catch up to position on several Thorn runs.

            Obviously, a balanced set of observations would have to include your sightings as well

          • Bill

            From Ray Curren’s review:

            “Tom Sermanni played Ali Krieger at center back, and – like Julie Ertz – she was beaten for pace a couple of times. ”

            “Sinclair, who turns 34 in a couple months, is as healthy as she’s been in a long time, even running past Krieger for Portland’s second goal.”

      • Bill

        From Ray Curren’s review:

        “Tom Sermanni played Ali Krieger at center back, and – like Julie Ertz – she was beaten for pace a couple of times. ”

        “Sinclair, who turns 34 in a couple months, is as healthy as she’s been in a long time, even running past Krieger for Portland’s second goal.”

        Who has the “noticing” problem??

    • JL

      Letting Betos leave may end up being the thing that costs them the shield this year. Franch has regressed from 2013, and I don’t think she’ll be able to keep them in games the way Betos had to do at times.

  • TsovLoj

    Franch’s saves are aight, but her distribution and clearances are just abysmal. Every time she got the ball passed back to her I got a rush of cold fear.

    • Steglitz49

      She kept a clean sheet. She can work on her distribution.

      I suspect her injury either still lingers or she is scared of reinsuring herself.

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      • Frozen Blue

        She was lucky to get one, I can’t believe Orlando didn’t convert on any of those mistakes, poor finishing by them.

        • Steglitz49

          I guess that is why they are buying Marta.

  • newsouth

    grimm series is over. now, there really isn’t anything in portland but voodoo donuts.

  • guest

    So the replay is on lifetime, but they require a login. I didn’t see anything posted on go90 either. Anybody see a replay?

    • mockmook

      How do you know the replay is on Lifetime if you can’t log in?

      • Steglitz49

        Does anyone really care about replays? A 5 min highlight video is enough for me.

        • guest

          Here you go then. My favorite part starts at 2:00.

      • guest

        Because some of their video content is free! A lot of cable channels do that, like the “Daily Show”, etc. Maybe they can afford to because they have sponsors, which the NWSL does not? Zulilly maybe?

        Do you see anything at this website or is it just me?

        • mockmook

          “Because some of their video content is free!”

          Translation: No, you don’t know that Lifetime has the video on its site.

          Now, I will make an assumption/observation:

          Usually, even if they require registration, a website will show what videos are available — then, when you click on the video, they will ask you to register.

          • guest

            “[W]hen you click on the video, they will ask you to register.” Actually, they wanted to know my cable provider, but alas I have none.

          • mockmook

            What video?

          • mockmook

            Alright, I see the ORL POR video now, the link wasn’t there earlier in the day.

            And, yes, it asked me for a cable provider as well.

            Supposedly that won’t happen with the “real” archive.

          • guest

            They could always archive the games on youtube! There’s no money in archiving anyway, and youtube never charges a fee for its services.

  • Ashley C

    The way to beat the Thorns will always be with speed. Orlando was too slow on the buildup and counter. It’ll be interesting to see how Marta handles service issues behind her.