It seems hard to believe, but the silence over at our sister-site Stumptown Footy is getting kind of deafening. I don’t want to believe that the site has gone dark…but it’s been several weeks since there’s been any new Thorns content, and there has been quite a bit of news in the NWSL world as we inch closer to whatever the hell is going to happen in Utah in July.
One bit of news from that venue is not promising: Salt Lake City’s COVID-19 cases are rising, and the city and county are in a group of three that are in the “moderate risk” category (the remainder of Utah is still “low”).
The real concern is not so much that the gross numbers are going up – we’re still in the Plague Year, after all – but that the infection rate has shot up:
“In the past week, there has been a daily average of 303 new cases per day, and a seven-day positivity rate of 10%, based on 2,120 new positive cases reported among 21,108 tests. The previous week showed a daily average of 197 new cases and a positivity rate of 7.1%.”
Salt Lake City’s Rt is 1.11, behind only South Carolina’s 1.12.
So there’s that.
On the NWSL front there’s not much hard news.
One of the most critical, and one of the hardest questions to answer is “who will choose not to play”? The league has said that no player will be sanctioned if they don’t, but at this point the only prominent refusal has been from Megan Rapinoe.
Given the downsides of this tournament – the chance that play will be fairly crude, direct, and physical with the resulting chance of injury, and the possibility of infection – compared to the small return for the players (and, particularly, the USWNT players) I can’t say I’m shocked.
The follow-on question for Thorns fans, though, is will Tobin Heath, who is in a similar career stage, follow Rapinoe’s lead.
Their internal circumstances are very different; Heath has always seemed more invested in the NWSL and her club than Rapinoe has, and Heath is a very different personality. But the externalities are quite similar, so I’ll be watching the Thorns’ pressers closely over the next couple of weeks to see if Heath reports.
Other than Heath, the only faces missing from the Thorns’ initial team workout photos were Ellie Carpenter and Lindsey Horan, and it’s my understanding that Horan has since joined the squad.
Carpenter was trapped in Australia by the travel bans, and it’s an open question when and how she can travel here (or, if the “when” is too late, whether she can fit into the squad before the kickoff against The Damned Courage).
Without reporting from the club itself we don’t know anything about how the squad is shaping up, who’s doing what, and how well. I won’t pretend to have any real interest in the actual results of this goat rodeo in Utah, but I do have considerable curiosity about several of the teams playing there; specifically, the teams that have made a lot of roster moves since 2019.
Portland, obviously, but also Orlando, Utah, Jersey, Chicago, and Tacoma. The only real known quality there will be Carolina, and that’s…not good for everyone else.
I’m also going to be kind of fascinated to see – presuming that the Thorns don’t utterly crater in the first round, or get picked off in the quarter- or semifinals by another squad – how Coach Parsons adjusts to The Damned Courage between the opener and whenever the two meet in the knockouts.
My issue with Parsons has always been that Riley seems to own him, and Parsons fails to make adjustments to tactics and matchups to change that.
This offseason we’ve seen the biggest shakeup in the squad since 2015-2016. We will probably have a couple of rooks starting upfront. Lindsay Horan is coming off perhaps her worst club season ever. Christine Sinclair and Meghan Klingenberg may be fast approaching their last seasons.
I think Parsons’ plan was to load up this squad and take a run at The Damned Courage this year. The Plague has scotched that. But it will be fascinating to see if, and how well, Parsons has reshaped this team to take on Riley’s outfit in single games.
And…since this is an open thread…so now I’ll open it up. Oh…and a first question for the group; what other links can we add to the list below?
What’s on your mind?
FBRef.com (full site)
Thorns FC homepage
Thornando provided a couple more good links:
AllforXI – an SB nation site covering the women’s game
The Offside Rule – “…an all-female-fronted football podcast and website with an active and engaging social media presence…creating and curating content to actively promote female inclusion in all elements of football.”
And a couple more from trolling the intertoobz:
“NWSL Analitica” – The author struggles a bit with translation so a little clunky for an English-only reader, but the site looks content-rich. I read the article on Purce’s prospects at Sky Blue and thought it was well written and thought-out. Worth a look.
Football Bloody Hell – Thorns 2020 scouting report
Thorns on reddit – like things reddit, you know what you’re getting…