PTFC v. NCC – Second Half Match Thread and Post-Match Discussion

Just a place to comment on the opening match.

Choppy first half for both squads, but The Damned Courage is faster all over the pitch and has been harrowing Kelli Hubly over on the Thorns right defensive flank; Dunn, Williams, Debinha, and Hamilton have all been taking turns beating her to the byline.

I’m pleasantly impressed with Bella Bixby’s stout goalkeeping. That said, had Williams simply squared the ball to Hamilton in the 27th minute rather than blasting over the bar it would have been 1-nil.

So let’s talk in the comments…

John Lawes
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31 thoughts on “PTFC v. NCC – Second Half Match Thread and Post-Match Discussion

  1. Well…

    Carolina is simply a more complete team; faster, better organized. Portland was lucky to escape with only the two concessions.

    What was frustrating was that the addition of Sauerbrunn was supposed to make the central defense more robust, but both concessions came off the Damned getting players open completely unmarked in Portland’s six-yard box. I didn’t expect a lot of sophisticated attack in this match, but I did expect stout defending, but between giving huge space along the touchlines and failing to mark up inside the six the Portland defense continues to look like a real problem.

  2. 1. The Thorns looked considerably better with Weaver and Charley in the front line though I really enjoy watching Lussi’s effort.. Weaver’s effort created a few nice opportunity including one where Mewis made a mistake, but their goaltender bailed her out.

    2. I liked Sinc at the 9. Her lack of speed in the mid was not pronounced and Horan at the 10 is what this team needs.

    3. Debhina and Mewis always kills us and while they were the difference, we did better than previous matches. Rocky played well defensively, but she was a little long on a lot of her passes

    4. Right Fullback is going to be an issue

    5. I thought Bourielle and Salem looked decent out there as replacement level starters at the defensive mid spot if we want to use Seiler’s versatility

    6. Sauerbruun is solid, but two mistakes led to two big opportunities. I actually believe that her and Menges looked OK outside of those two big mistakes. Maybe trying to rationalize a bit here.

    7. Nice first appearance from Bella Bixby

    1. 1) I thought Parsons’ subs were effective; you’re right, and the Thorns looked better in the last quarter-hour or so.
      2) The Thorns midfield was largely passed over as Carolina went direct and up the touchlines. Both Horan and Sinc worked hard, but they didn’t really get much out of it. Rodriguez I thought was pretty much invisible.
      3) Both fullback positions were problems, conceding WAY too much space and giving Carolina way too many good crosses to players inside
      Overall the defense was really frustrating. I didn’t expect a ton of slick attacking from this XI (or from this squad yet; there’s just way too many new faces) but the addition of Sauerbrunn was supposed to bolster a defense that’s been slipping over the last two seasons. Instead she made several critical errors and Carolina REALLY exposed her utter lack of pace. The defensive set was extremely porous, the fullbacks cheated in WAY too much, and individual errors caused far too much havoc. Normally I’d say “Brunn needs to woodshed her backline”…but it was her failures that led directly to both concessions, so she doesn’t have much authority to brace her teammates.
      4) Bixby did really well; not at fault on the second concession, and made some tremendous saves.

      Well, we know where we still stand re: Carolina. Let’s see how we do against Chicago on Wednesday to get a better idea of where we are re: the REST of the league.

  3. After watching today’s game, I want Seiler at right back.

    My perspective is it will be Smith/Weaver and Charley/Lussi as our wings though I could see them play Weaver at the 9 some as well

    Sinclair back up front and Horan at the 10 is what this team needs.

    1. We need more than player moves. The whole backline needs to be better organized and more alert. WAY too much lax defending. How the hell do you leave Williams unmarked right in front of goal? And the other teams may not be able to take advantage of all that space along the touchlines, but Carolina? Are you high, defense? Giving them that much time and space is suicide.

      Westphal looked slightly better than Hubly, but neither one really looked impressive. Unfortunately, neither did Salem, particularly. I tend to agree with you that against The Damned we need more pace out wide, so Seiler might be the RB of choice. What we do with Kling, who was constantly caught upfield, I have no idea.

      What the team needs against The Damned is pace all over, though, and Sinc – regardless of where she’s playing – doesn’t have that much anymore. She probably does better all the way up than trying to fight her way towards the goal…but I think that the bench might be a better place for her when we play them.

      And I should note that while Rodriguez didn’t have a HUGE impact on this match because she was locked in the back of midfield, she did help take the defensive burden off Horan and let her get forward, so, good.

      1. I thought Rodriguez had a good game defensively, but I also felt she was a step slower offensively which I think will get resolved with time. I tie that more to lack of experience with these players.

        The gaffes were fascinating. Weaver on a cross thinking she was playing a give and go with Horan while Horan was thinking she was going to shoot. Sinclair leaving a notch early on a great free kick opportunity.

        What I was encouraged by

        1. Bixby

        2. Horan and how engaged she was at the 10

        3. The little touch passes by Sinclair

        4. The pace of Morgan Weaver and Simone Charley. Seeing the effort of those two lead to some opportunities was something I didn’t see last year against the Courage.

        5. We stayed Healthy and I was a little concerned with head to head knock with Horan and Mewis

        We need to improve our defense in general, though I will say that I thought our front 6 played good defensively. Unfortunately our back 4 didn’t.

        Lots of things to build upon. Debhina, Mewis, and Williams are still the difference makers.

  4. The two weak links for us were Sauerbrunn and Rodriguez. Becky needs to stay within herself – every single time she stepped up to a challenge the attacker beat her to it handily and waltzed right past her. Two goals conceded and should have been three (lucky for us that Williams is selfish).

    Rocky was a turnover machine. She killed the attack almost every time she touched the ball – didn’t know where her open channel was, seemed unwilling to go back to Menges even when double-teamed. I was surprised she played in the second half. Clearly she is assigned a job she’s not suited for. Dames will notice for sure. CB should start.

    Once we got the ball out wide past midfield, or in the center of the final third, we looked decent and dangerous. Horan was unlucky to hit the post and not bank it in off Labbe. In the same fashion that we left Williams open in our box, NCC let Horan do whatever she wished in theirs.

    NCC is not (yet) the juggernaut they were last year. They looked tired and disorganized at times. They were relying on crosses for nearly all of their attack, almost nothing up the middle. Better play by our fullbacks (I miss Carpenter already!) and they have no threats. The injury to Mace, if it’s as bad as it looked, is a big setback for them.

    All in all, I’m not totally deflated. Our mistakes are fixable with better discipline and maybe a position change or two. Those are both possible to do with the talent we have. I’m not predicting it, but I could see this team winning the next five and facing NCC again at the end.

    1. 1. The injury was to Ally Watt (assuming a typo)

      2. Both goals were gaffes by the fullbacks.

      The first one was on Kling and the second one on Pogarch. That said that breakaway goal option would have been all on Rodriguez and Bruun.

      1. My bad – yes it was Watt. Not a typo, more a senior moment 🙂

        On the second goal, Sauerbrunn dived in on Mewis (I think) and got smoked. But also the left FB (Pogarch at that point, I believe) was nowhere to be seen. My memory of the play isn’t helping – where the heck was she?

        1. I also thought we were creating space in the middle of the field with Sinclair, Horan, and Rodriguez. I was encouraged by their play though I do admit that there a few timing instances with Rodriguez that led to turnovers, I think that group is promising

          Morgan Weaver did what I thought she would do. I love the energy, pace, and aggressiveness.

          I think the center backs are getting a little more criticism than they deserve, but you can’t leave Horan, Williams unattended unless you want to give up a goal.

          I view this as a promising start. I think we are planning on playing Smith with Lussi and Weaver with Charley, though I think it is only a matter of time before Smith and Weaver are our primary wings.

          That was a hell of a debut by Morgan. Sad that Watt’s injury looks serious, because she made a touch play that could have led to a goal too.

          1. When you field a slow defense – and Menges was the only defender we had on the pitch with any sort of above-average foot speed – the positioning and anticipation has to be exceptional and the marking impeccable, or the faster team will punish you. They weren’t, and the Damned did.

            The CBs have one critical job, and that’s prevent dangerous attacks from the heart of the penalty area, and letting in crosses to an unmarked opponent will punish you. They didn’t, and the Damned did.

            And for all the the Thorns did get forward they didn’t generate much from their attack; two Horan headers, both off target, and a scrambling goal that either Labbe’ or Erceg could easily have cleared before Charley got to it if they’d had a better bounce.

            Giving up a couple of crap goals and losing 2-1 is better than getting run off the pitch six-nil, but that’s a damn low bar. I wouldn’t call that “promising”, I’d call it “flawed but interesting”.

            Let’s see how we look against Chicago and Tacoma before we declare our rebuild any sort of success.

          2. I really liked that Weaver was happy to turn and fire on goal, and that she’s fast enough to be able to pull the trigger before defenders get in the way to block the shot. That’s refreshing.

  5. If this game had ended in a tie I would have been thrilled. The score is pretty reflective of the game. This was pretty much a normal starting lineup for the Courage and a lot of surprise starters for Thorns. I think this team is going to get better if they can stay in it as long as possible. But we can’t expect to see Horan for 90 minutes in the next game and she was definitely the engine out there. Her chemistry with Rodriquez is a work in progress and will only get better. I don’t think Hubly did bad considering who she was guarding. I think it was Westfall’s pass that led to the Thorn’s goal, so that was good. Salem and Bourielle were pretty good at the 6. Morgan Weaver looked dangerous, but I would love to see her out on the wing with a chance to outrun defenders. Same with Charley.
    And Bella Bixby, Wow!

    1. Agree on Bixby- big and quick, maybe a little hesitant to come off her line, but she looked good! seeing her play, and then coming off getting notes from Angerer, made me feel better about the Thorns of Christmas future

  6. What did you think of CBS running an ad during the water break? It was jarring to me to see an ad in the middle of the half, but I didn’t have a problem with it.

    I suppose you could make a “slippery slope” argument against it, but you could also make a “we need to keep CBS happy” argument for the league.

  7. The game, and the result, were not nearly as bad as I had feared, especially given that for the Thorns it was the equivalent of a first pre-season game. (Less so for NC because 10 of the 11 had played together so much.) I was afraid it would be over in 15 minutes.
    The Thorns made a number of passes to spots where a teammate was obviously expected to be, but wasn’t. They’ll sort that out if they have enough time, which they may not.
    I thought Horan and Rodriguez worked well together and that Lindsey definitely benefitted from the fact that Rocky took some defensive pressure off of her.
    I can’t be too hard on Hubly; how often is any RB in the league going to stop Lynn Williams supported by Dunn and Daniels? And they didn’t score on her watch.
    I’m eager to see how we roll out against Chicago.

  8. I think the real questions from this one are:

    Was the defending a player issue or a coaching issue? If we run out two different fullbacks against Chicago will they find the same acres or space along the touchlines that Carolina did, or if we start, say, Seiler and Pogarch, and the coach hammers into them that they have to guard the touchlines and track back like sprinters, will that close those spaces down? Is Sauerbrunn too slow for her anticipation to compensate for, or was that just a bad game? Can the CBs close down the front of the goal better, or is that a feature, not a bug?

    And, can the glimmers of attack we saw today shine into full light with more match play? Rodriguez needs to do a LOT better connecting with her forwards and AMs, and the forwards need to find space more consistently.

    Most importantly, Coach Parsons needs to learn from today and have this team looking much more composed when they see the Damned in the knockouts.

    1. NCC fullback Jalene Daniels was interviewed going into halftime and accidently said something substantive, when asked how she was able to find Lynn Williams so often on the long balls that created NC’s most dangerous chances in the first half. She said something to the effect of “we know with the 4-3 they play, those passes are always open, so its pretty easy.” So i don’t think it’s the FB’s and CB’s that are to blame, I think this is “the system” they’re playing in- i think this is on the coach.

      1. When you give up two preventable goals in the same exact way fifteen minutes apart you have to suspect something systemic, yes. We need to look hard at the WAY we play the Damned Courage. There’s obviously more than just unfortunate player matchups there.

        1. I thought the Thorns did real well on set pieces, especially given how many corner kicks NC had in this game. But that is no doubt due to a better chance to organize. But on passes from the wings, there seemed to be more Courage players in the box than Thorns and if you are outnumbered somebody is going to be uncovered. It seems like if Horan and Sinclair are in the box on defense we are in much better shape. Now on offense if the Thorns could get that many players in the box on in-swingers from the wing that would be good.

        2. The 4-3-3 has requires fullbacks to Defend the outer 1/3 on each side allowing centerbacks to deal with traffic in the middle, but our two goals had assignment breakdowns. The question is are we asking too much of limited players ?

          1. Yes, i thought that, too, about the 4-3-3 not designed to have fullbacks as involved in the attack as in, say a 3-5-2. I don’t think the Thorns were actually playing a 4-3-3, despite what CBS thinks. Our FB’s were pushed upfield a lot, and in transition, it looked like they were tasked with slowing down the ball while defenders regrouped behind them. I rewatched the latter part of the game and saw Pogarch, especially, defending the ball at midfield and then only once the ball was played in, did she race back (and FWIW, John, she seems pretty fast). But in a 4-3-3, you would only have FB’s operating like wing-backs if you were playing with 2 defensive midfielders, right? If that was what Rodriquez was supposed to be playing, that’s really a shame and a waste. Sinclair was back there more and more as the game went on, too- so much for her being a “9”. Yesterday, Westphal gets the assist on our goal with a Klingenberg-esqe ball in from the side, and Pogarch was taking cornerkicks even on the opposite side of the field from where she’s supposed to be defending. It seems more that the FB’s being that far up field was by design, not because of any particular fault with the players. Without the FBs back there, Sauerbrunn is left to step to challenge the ball as “first defender”, and that seems like a poor use of her talents, as well as pulling our back line way out of shape.

          2. To me, it looked like they were playing a 4-4-2 diamond In the second half once Bourielle replaced Salem. Rodriguez playing more of a defensive role in the diamond in the 2nd half., which kind of fits to your assessment. I believe she played better in the first half, but originally put that to conditioning.

          3. Unfortunately, the one time we needed Pogarch to be not just fast but well-positioned was in the 94th minute…when she wasn’t. Rookie mistake, so learn from it and move on.

            Re: “asking too much from limited players”, to paraphrase a famous sonofabitch, you go to Utah with the team you have, not the team you want to have. If we don’t have the players to run out a successful 4-3-3 (if that was, indeed, what we were doing – I tend to agree with you that it didn’t look that way consistently…) then we shouldn’t be running a 4-3-3.

            Again, I’m really unsure what this game means; it’s a bit like the infamous no-goal win last season. We didn’t get overrun…but was that because we were good enough not to be overrun, or because Carolina isn’t firing on all cylinders yet? We’re gonna need to see how we look against the other two, and then even further, into the knockouts. Each match is a data point and as such we should scrutinize. But it’s the trendline, not the scatterplot, we need to look at in the final assessment…

  9. Chicago didn’t look that great against Washington this evening. The Spirit looked both better and hungrier.

  10. Felt terrible for Ally Watt- 5 minutes into her pro debut and she goes down clutching her knee. The way she came off and reacted made it look like something bad. Has there been any word on her injury?

    1. Other than Riley was saying it didn’t look good the Linehan yesterday, I haven’t seen anything yet

  11. CBS All Access reminds me of GO90 – no live event schedule, no DVR functionality – but the streaming quality was excellent after the first 30 seconds. The broadcast team, which was offsite, did a good job. The fake crowd noise wasn’t well done – EPL is doing it better – but I am not a fan of the whole concept. International viewers on Twitch were not subjected to it.

    Jonathon Tannenwald posted a thread on Twitter of a dozen newspapers’ coverage. Papers NOT in NWSL cities. The kneeling got a lot of attention, but so did the soccer.

    All-in-all, Saturday was a good media day for the league. Not perfect, but far from the sloppy messes we have seen before. I give it a B- (the first day of GO90 back when was a solid F).

  12. I watched Chicago vs the Spirit and the Spirit were definitely the more creative team. Rose LaVelle, oh man is she good! Ashley Hatch is a Lynn Williams type player and she was scorching Chicago. Sanchez has speed, but needs to get used to the fact she is playing with players that are as good as she is. I am happy we took Weaver with that second pick.
    Arin Wright was not playing and Chicago defense missed her missed her and Davidson; that is a huge hole in the defense. Wright in particular would have handled Hatch easier. I think when Kealia Watt gets used to the team she will help the Chicago attack a lot. But Nagasato did not have her usual excellent game.
    Chicago will present a tough test for the Thorns, but they are not as good as they were last year. Duh… no Sam Kerr, but not just that they seem like a team adjusting to a new identity. We will see.


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