Thorns FC: DL

At the indecent hour of 5:30 in the morning last Friday my Bride rolled me up to the big doors at the south side of the Providence hospital over on NE Glisan where, just about three hours later, some overqualified jamoke and his sidekicks hacked my left knee open, parted out the mess inside (too worn out to be worth a lick anymore), installed a bunch of aftermarket parts designed to keep the thing working for another fifteen years or so, slammed the hood, and rolled me out again before ten that morning.

After a night in the “short stay” section to make sure I wouldn’t just curl up and die on them these jokers then sent me home with the little blue keg thing (it’s some sort of oddball cold compress pump the actually works pretty well but in a fiddley, picky, pain in the ass sort of way), a bunch of odd looking temp tats on my knees…

There’s one on the left, too, but it’s kinda a mess seeing as how someone hacked it up with a fucking axe. The one on the right is the ortho doc’s “cartouche de nope” to keep them from whacking on the wrong knee. Yes, that’s an actual serious thing.

…and a bottle full of hillbilly heroin to keep me from tearing down the drywall screaming in pain because someone just hacked my knee open with an axe.

I’m trying to keep the painkiller dosages to a minimum, but as you can imagine much of what happened this past weekend is kind of a blur. I watched the Washington match with the latptop on my chest and vaguely recall the Simone Charley finally got her goal and that she and the rest of the team forechecked and pressed what little life there was out of the spiritless Spirit to hold onto yet another 1-goal win.

(Did Washington’s sad act have anything to do with what we’re hearing about Richie Burke getting canned for some kind of #MeToo stuff? We’ll have to see…)

But what I just can’t physically do is what I need to do to write these match reports; sit in front of the screen for several hours and concentrate on the details of what’s happening on the pitch. Physically I need to keep the leg elevated, and mentally I have the attention span of a squirrel with ADD; the painkillers are working but they also make things a bit hazy.

So it’s going to be a couple more weeks before the regular “Thorns FC” runs here. I apologize – I’d hoped that I’d be able to bounce back as quickly as I did when I got new hips. But it turns out the warnings were correct; knees are more difficult.

So “Thorns FC” and I are on the short-term DL for a bit.

Here’s what I can do, though.

I can push aside the water bottles and cold compresses and other “you just had your knee hacked open with an axe” junk that currently infests my bed (my poor Bride is exiled to the couch until I can start sleeping through the night – did you know that one side-effect of oxycodone is sleeplessness? Seriously, you’d think that something that gorks you out would also put you to sleep rather than the opposite. But apparently life doesn’t work that way) and talk about some deeper, bigger-picture, deeper-dive sorts of topics.

Who comes after Parsons? Who should, and what should they be better at than he was? What if the “Horan-to-Europe” rumors are true? Who on this squad do you like more than you did in April? Anyone who’s stock has fallen? Who should form the core of the team moving through the inevitable-yet-loathsome expansion draft? Ruminations on the Moultrie lawsuit..?

My thought is to drop suggestions for next week’s piece in the comments.

And I appreciate all of your patience and support; it’s no fun having some jamoke hack your knee open with an axe, but when the knee is so banjaxed that the alternative is another decade of slowly increasing grinding discomfort and reduced mobility?

It’s kind of an easy decision.

So I’d love to hear you suggestions, and in return (because I’m aware of all Internet traditions), here’s a picture of an adorable cat…

…and an equally adorable Captain Sinclair with the reward she should have earned nine years ago.

Build that goddamn statue. C’mon, You know it’s time.

Update 8/11p.m.: Today was kind of rough for former beat writers of Slide Rule Pass. My compa C.I. DeMann, whose Six Degrees was born at Kevin Alexander’s Timbers site back in 2013, announced today that he’s hangin’ ’em up, at least for a while.

C.I. stepped in to take over most of the Timbers writing at about the same time I pushed my way in to cover the Thorns (it really was just that rude – Alexander had been taking looks at the NWSL club off and on but had neither the interest nor the energy to cover the club full-time – and I breezed in saying “I got this, mac…” and Kev willingly gave me a platform) and lasted four years past my getting canned over at Stumptown Footy that poached us from SRP back at the end of 2017.

Thorns FC: then was much the same as it is now (except that I gleefully stole Richard Hamje’s “Plus-Minus Rating” system back in 2016) and so was Six Degrees. C.I. wrote with a sort of barely concealed glee. He loved the club, he loved talking and writing about the club, and he wrote with a lovely sort of breezy intensity that was easy to mistake for offhandedness.

It wasn’t. I’ve seldom known anyone who thought more about what he wrote than C.I. did.

But it was the joy that shone from C.I.’s page like a good deed in a weary world. He loved what he did, and he loved the Timbers, and the fans, and Kevin, and the world for letting him do it.

I’ve never had that sort of inner fire, and never tried to produce it while enjoying C.I.’s sunlit uplands every time I read his page. And now that light has gone out.

Sorry it stopped being joyful, C.I. Hope you find it again, even if you never write another word.

John Lawes
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11 thoughts on “Thorns FC: DL

  1. John I hope you get better soon! You are missed. Some good topics for discussion. Right now at the top of my mind is the shit show in Washington. They send out a cover-up piece on Richie Burke that doesn’t even make a half a new cycle before we find out he is back to his old abusive ways that they were warned about when they hired him. During the game he pulled Ashley Sanchez and Kaylyn Kyle is going “what she is your most creative player.” And then a fan on Equalizer said there were more Thorns fans than Spirit fans at the game and then noted what a lousy choice it was to move to Segra. No fans, bathrooms are recycled shipping containers, essentially very few places to get something to eat, no PA system, no screen and etc. It seems like Crystal Dunn had very good reason to flee to Europe. Burke evidently told a black player who had been poked in the eye “Black eyes matter.”
    It has been a really weird year and a team I thought might be among the top four at the end of the year on talent and few Olympic absences is just a dumpster fire at the moment.

    1. It’s a slow process. The hips were easy – hell, two weeks after one of them I was a Merlo for one of the Thorns’ preseason matches. I can’t see doing that with this one.

      I can’t help but have strong suspicions that the Spirit’s disaster of a season has to be related to these reports of Burke being a stone asshole. He’s always had kind of that rep, purely outside of looking like the heavy in a Guy Richie film, but it sounds like the club has been running away from it as fast as possible. The Athletic has a piece up discussing the story ( and here’s the nut graf: “…at least four players have left the Spirit in the last two years because of Burke’s treatment, citing verbal and emotional abuse including threats, personal insults and racially insensitive remarks.”

      Sometimes I think the NWSL never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. After the fiasco in Salt Lake you’d think…no, let’s no do that again. Then you have this thing with the League and this RISE organization. And now this. Damn, league. How hard is this?

      So there’s one potential topic for some discussion next week.

      The return of the internationals? That’s a whole ‘nother story, and it’ll be interesting to see who manages it best. Parsons tanked in 2019, but then Riley did in 2015. I’ll be curious to see how Parsons works the Nats back in while preserving the energy the Leftbehinders were bringing. If we’re lucky..!

      1. Best wishes, John! Some close relatives have had this replacement done, and while they all ended up just fine, it was rough going for a while there. Good luck to you, and as always, thanks for your fine writing here.

        Speaking of leftbehinders, what the heck do we do about goalkeeper? Bixby has been excellent, is in form, and deserves to keep her starting role. But Franch shouldn’t lose her starting spot because she went off in service of the national team. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place! Same for centerback with Sauerbrunn, Menges, and Hubly. How do you not start one of them? An injury or two may well make these questions moot, but in the meantime Parsons has to choose starters for Orlando.

        Parsons also has to juggle NWSL games and the International Champions Cup. Exactly how much effort do we want to put into this mid-season interruption? I’d sure love to beat the Dash and then Barça or OL to win it, but I’d love winning the Supporters’ Shield, and getting both a bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs, even more.

        1. I think the centerbacks are easier, because I think Menges has been struggling to find her role without Sauerbrunn as the rock in back, and Hubly is depth, as good as she’s been over July. So it’ll be Brunn and Menges to start and Hubly to come on as fresh legs if we’re up late.

          The keepers…yeah. We had this problem before with Betos and Franch, and solved it by moving Betos. I think we may have to do that in the long run. Bixby is a starting-quality NWSL keeper, and should be where she can start. Mind you, the expansion draft may solve THAT problem for us.

          I could care less about these friendlies. I loathe OL, anyway, even when they’re at full strength. Respect the skill of their roster, wish them gleefully in hell. I think we do what every club does; give the starters a brief outing then fill the pitch with the reserves. If this was a real Champions League? Different story. But it’s not.

  2. The question I have is when will the Nat’s be available? For the WICC? Then I would definitely start the internationals for the final. For Orlando this weekend? Maybe bring them in in the second half. I wonder how match ready the Lyon and Barca players will be? In the WICC our first game will Houston and I would go with the kids that have been playing and bring the Nats in late in the second half. There is going to be real prestige in beating either Barca or Lyon. Because of the players missing for Lyon, I think Barca wins that first game and I like our chances against either. I was intending on going to those games, but with the virus raging again, and even though I am vaccinated, I will watch on TV.

  3. So sorry about the operation. If you “knee-d” some good thoughts we are sending them your way 😛.

    What about Bev Priestman to fill in Parson’s job? I know about her only from Olympic chatter, but here’s what I like: 1) Sincy likes her, 2) she was Phil Neville’s asst coach which means she can undergo tremendous hardships & be around true sleaze & come out smiling- so maybe she won’t hand refs dirt, 3) she’s a female coach which I think the NWSL/world could use more of, 4) she absolutely figured out team that – enhanced their strengths & made their weaknesses less of a liability. Imagine what she could do for the Thorns

    I mean no disrespect to the Canadian players when I say that luck was a big part of their win (luck is often a big part of a lot of wins), but it also seems that Priestman’s strategy w/the subs was huge. When we see how strategy can work in the NWSL (eg red stars beating the Damned) I wouldn’t mind having a coach who can use it well.

    I’m not sure if NWSL and international coaching roles are comparable, or if she has any interest in leaving Canada, but I think Sincy could help leave the team in good hands if/when she ruthlessly abandons us.

    1. I’m really unfamiliar with Priestman’s work outside the OG run, where I agree that she had the “grind out a compressed tournament format win” thing down.

      The CWNT won gold with a 2-4-0 record overall, going to PKs three times and winning all three – that’s not really a sustainable long-term strategy. And the Canucks profited hugely from entering this tournament when the USWNT 2019 WC squad hit the wall. So while I think Priestman gets credit for the gold, it’s pretty thin c.v. to guess how good she’ll be going forwsrd.

      Now…having said all that…why not? She seems competent, at least, and certainly no less so than many of the other options I’ve heard mentioned. I’d say it’s worth handing her an offer and letting her choose.

      This is kind of a question worth looking at harder, though, so perhaps next week I will see what I can find out about the potential candidates out there…

      1. Please do – it would be interesting to learn more about potential candidates. I agree w/what JOHNWADE says & hope Paulson and Wilkenson are working hard to come up with good coaching options (male or female). The fact that there are other teams in the mix looking for coaches makes things even more complex.
        btw – I am SPITTING MAD at the Washington Spirit owners. To have brought him on despite reports of his bullying and then ALLOWING IT TO CONTINUE it infuriatingly unforgivable.

        Do we think there is a chance that Horan will NOT go to Europe? Is there some hope there? If Dunn turns out to be everything we’d hope she’d be, then I’d say she might be able to carry us through. But is she? (I know, I know, get out the pitchforks)

        Regarding Moultrie, am I right in understanding that if the CBA contains an age restriction she will be out again? That would suck.

        1. The Burke situation does look like another black eye for the league, which should have been keeping closer watch on him than they did, as well as the Washington organization. Again, between Utah and RISE and now this…not a good look for the league.

          All the Horan rumors I’ve heard are still just that. But clearly the chance for a truly fat paycheck is going to be with one of the monster Euro clubs. Does she want that? My guess wold be that she might be ready for a chance of skies soon, so…maybe? Well just have to wait and see.

          Dunn is not really a Horan-replacement. Whether that turns out to be Rodriguez? Maybe. So far I haven’t seen it…but so far Horan has had a fairly off-and-on season, so the bar she’s setting isn’t that high, and Rodriguez could conceivably meet that standard.

          The Moultrie settlement specified that if the league and the PA reach a CBA and that CBA includes contract rules regarding minimum eligible age that Moultrie will have to meet those rules.

        2. Chris Henderson points out that the potentially bigger problem than Burke alone is that this isn’t kind of an isolated “Spirit FO does fucked-up thing” thing. You’ve got that the management that…
          …hired Burke despite serious concerns about his behavior towards players
          …agreed to the trip to sportwash the Qatar government
          …then finally led with the Not-So-Truthful announcement of Burke’s departure before getting their hands forced from outside.

          Dunno but that looks like a problematic pattern to me.

  4. I know Becca Moros just became the coach at Arizona, but maybe and Amy LePeilbet had a short stint at Utah Royals. The thing is although there are not many women qualified, there seem to be a lot of men that seem qualified but don’t deserve the job. I think the Thorns should really shake the bushes looking for a woman.


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