Thorns FC: Gone in 660 Seconds

Well…okay, not really. It was 613 seconds if we’re being picky.

It took exactly 10 minutes, 13 seconds for the Thorns to hang three goals on the sad act that was Gotham, eclipsing the roughly quarter hour it took to do the same to the Chicago Red Stars in last season’s opener.

But, hey, the movie reference doesn’t work with the exact time, so Life has to bow to Art, much as the hapless Batgirls had to bow to the makeshift lineup that was Portland last Saturday.

I’m not sure if there’s much point in going through this one point-by-point after almost a week. The Thorns hammered the hell out of the poor schnooks, end of story, so maybe we just hit the high points?


First high point; for a club that has a history of playing down to the opposition, Portland knocked Gotham down early and kept the boot in for ninety-plus minutes.

That’s what good clubs do, and it was pleasant to see the gang do that. I gave Rhian Wilkinson some stick for letting the players sit back after going ahead against Seattle, so I need to give her praise for spurring them hard and digging the rowels in for the full match against Gotham.

The temptation must have been almost irresistible, Gotham were so utterly shit;

Image by Arielle Dror on Twitter

Jesus, that’s a trainwreck from the visitors. They might as well have stayed in Joisey and phoned this sucker in.

So instead of letting the poor suckers back in like we did in Seattle, instead it was all sunshine and flowers and sending the crowd home happy.

Speaking of happy; the Batgirls made a lot of players happy by being utter crap defensively. Thorns were moving, passing, assisting and, most of all, scoring. Saturday against Gotham was like fucking Oprah: “YOU get a goal and YOU get a goal and YOU get a goal..!!”

Hannah Betfort got her first goal. Marissa Everett got her first goal. Taylor Porter got her second goal and Olivia Moultrie hit a freaking golazo of a goal for her third.

But finally, most happily, Morgan Weaver finally got her second goal.

You could see by her celebration how thrilled she was, and by her teammates how happy they were for her.

The funny thing about Life is that several things can all be true at the same time.

One thing about last weekend was that Morgan Weaver had a hell of a game – we’ll talk further in the comments.

But another is that 1) it was against a epically crap opponent, and 2) it was just one game.

One great match against Gotham doesn’t really solve the Weaver Conundrum. She’s not playing at the level I think she could be, and that’s unfortunate.

With luck the success Gotham gifted Weaver will jump-start the rest of her season.

Let’s hope so; she’s a hard working player and seems like she deserves better.

What else..?

Well, the five goals kicked our GD can way further down the road, along with kicking us up into second…though it’s worth remembering that “tight” is an understatement regarding the top of the NWSL table; five points separate the top seven.

It was a nice way to send the gang off on a two-week vacation happy.

It made the internationals happy.

It made the Portland fans happy.

Happy? I’m happy. Are you happy? I hope so!

Because happy is nice.

Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer at

Short Passes

Passing the Passing Test: OPTA has the Thorns, at 77% as slightly below Gotham’s 79%. I thought both sides were pretty sloppy in possession, frankly, but my guess is that a lot of that was a result of pressing (by Gotham) and “shit, we’re up four; boot the goddamn thing into touch…” (by Portland).

Image by Arielle Dror on Twitter

Everyone had a solid night passing save for poor Meghan Nally (and Bella Bixby, whose distribution was sketchy, but that’s kind of a Portland-goalkeeper-thing going back to KK…). Weaver, in particular, was getting good service for the second week in a row.

Image by Arielle Dror on Twitter

Paige Monaghan looks like what she was – a pest all night – and Imani Dorsey, Ali Krieger, and Mandy Freeman all made some good decisions. Caprice Dydasco, though, was dead cold, and so was Delanie Freeman, and Gotham needed them.

The obvious big hurt was not having Midge Purce…but I’m not sure whether even #100Purcent could have done anything with the Black Pit that was Gotham’s defense.

Corner Kicks

OPTA and I agree: five corners. two first half, three second, four long into the box, one short.

5′KlingenbergLongWent first to Ali Krieger who flicked the ball on to the far side of the six. There McCall Zerboni and Taylor Porter arrived almost together, but Z-bone swung and missed with her right leg, while Porter teed up and whacked the shot through the crowd for the matchwinner, 1-nil Portland
23′KlingenbergShortOut to Madison Pogarch, who dinked it back to Kling; Kling’s shoss was cleared but recycled right back to her. The cross dimed Kelli Hubly, whose header was barely wide right
59′RyanLongGot to Weaver at the back post; Weaver headed back into the crowd, but Gotham’s defenders cleared the ball away for no harm.
75′KlingenbergLongInto the mixer, headed clear but no further than Ryan, whose high cross was an easy take for Ashlyn Harris
90+4′KlingenbergLongFell into the crowd again, Gotham cleared and the final whistle blew.

One goal, another good look on the Hubly header. Hard not to think that the second half doldrums were related to the big lead; why get elbowed in the coccyx by Zerboni fighting for a high lob when you’re up by four..?

Image by Portland Thorns FC: on Facebook

Player Ratings and Comments

Everett (64′ – +2/-0 : +2/-1 : +4/-1) Typically a player having a “+4/-1” kind of match would elicit barely a “Mmmm, that’s nice…” kind of reaction. Except one of Everett’s pluses was the third goal that was kind of the dagger. So…well done, ME!

Betfort (26′ – +3/-0) See above. You come on, score with your first touch? You kinda get to loaf around for the rest of the half hour…except Betfort worked hard both forechecking and passing.

I may not often say this a lot…but having been a sort of squad player myself I appreciate the hard, largely-unsung work of players like Betfort. Soccer is a game in search of a team, and by the sheer weight of probability most players aren’t going to be Sophia Smith or Alex Morgan. They’re going to be Porter or Betfort or Po.

Here’s to them, then, those warriors for the working day, whose glories and whose gilt are all o’ersmirched with rainy marching in the painful field.

Weaver (+9/-3 : +10/-8 : +19/-11) Woman of the Match for her hard work finally paying off.

This is what it looks like when a team just gives up. Harris is toast with ten minutes still left to play.

Here’s the thing, though.

In the 94th minute Weaver picked up a loose ball near the Gotham goal. Gotham at that point was thrashing about in a sort of random hopeless spasm, dead but still twitching like a pithed frog.

The final whistle was moments away. Any other forward in soccer would have dribbled idly into the corner, maybe stood over the ball waiting for the inevitable hopelessly-hopeful defender to come and try and hook it out from under her feet.

Or maybe drop it back downfield for her teammates to pass around playing keepaway.


Belted it straight into Harris’ hands.

That’s the thing about her that drives me nuts. Yes, she’s fast and aggressive and has tons of fun Chaos Muppet energy. Yes, she shakes up enemy defenses and gets good looks.

But she’s a conversion sinkhole…and she could do all the other stuff and play cunning tactically smart soccer, too. Weaver needs to show the kind of soccer smarts Sophia Smith does, and she should – they’re practically broodsisters.

I want to see a Weaver who does all the running and tackling and shooting and breaking defenses and goalkeeper hearts…but who also converts.

And also picks her head up and knows when to dribble tamely into a corner and stand there, foot on the ball, as her opponents rage futilely around her.

Ryan (78′ – +8/-6 : +4/-3 : +12/-9) One shot in 78 minutes? Hmmm.

Lots of other good work, including the assist, tho her touch is still pretty brutal; six of her minuses are for heavy touches or direct losses. As a squad forward, fine. But not the partner Smith needs to help take up some of the defensive load Smith lives under.

Vasconcelos (12′ – +4/-1) Michelle Vasconcelos came on knowing the sort of thing a veteran of her experience knows; up four goals, defend. And defend she did, forechecking like a beast. Muy bueno, ‘Chelle.

Sugita (+5/-3 : +7/-3 : +12/-6) Another typical Hina-san outing but in somewhat of a minor key. Specifically, not quite as tidy in possession and passing as usual.

Moultrie (90′ – +8/-1 : +7/-0 : +15/-1) Another fine outing from the youngest Thorn, including the golazo. Hard to separate out which of her attributes have improved the most. Her physical skills? Her tactical intelligence? Her toughness and willingness to get stuck in? Her team skills?

But regardless, I’ll be blunt; I was skeptical of Moultrie’s potential. I was wrong.

She seemed little more than another squad player to me. It now looks obvious that all she needed was more playing time to show that she has what her fans claimed and I denied; a hell of a high ceiling.

It’ll be interesting to see how high.

Shorts (4′ – no rating) Timewasting.

Porter (+5/-2 : +4/-0 : +9/-2) Porter’s 5th minute goal should, like the snowdrift of the first fine plaster dust filtering down from failing wall, have alerted us early that the Gotham defense was going into a power dive into a burning ammunition dump inside the crater of an erupting volcano.

Nice goal…but appalling defending.

Quiet evening as a #6 after that, largely because Gotham couldn’t figure out how to score without an instruction manual or a bevy of fans pointing out “here is where the goal is”.

Klingenberg (+5/-1 : +2/-4 : +7/-5) Tidy assist and some of her usual clever service, along with her as-always-constant-energy-and-intelligence.

I think Kling started to tire later in the match; in the 67th minute Bixby had an easy take of a long cross, but Kling was ballwatching at the back post and let her mark – I think it was Taylor Smith – blow past her for an open header had Bixby not been able to get to the ball.

At the time I didn’t think there was much there, but Bixby spent several seconds pointing and yapping at Kling, so clearly Bix did.

Kling’s passing got kinda sloppy near the end, too. Still a decent outing, and on defense kept the clean sheet, so, fine.

Hubly (+6/-1 : +6/-3 : +12/4) Came damn close to scoring with her head again, and her unit kept the (admittedly easy) clean sheet. But…

Image by Paramount+. Licensed under Fair Use.

That’s the 25th minute; Bixby was coming out for a lofted Dydasco cross. Hubly was backing under the cross to clear it. Either neither was making their movements clear to the other, or both were too fixated on the danger to hear the other.

They collided, and the ball skipped through to Nahomi Kawasumi at the back post; luckily Kawasumi’s cross went to no one and Pogarch cleared safely.

But careful, Hubs! Let’s not break our Bella, OK?

Nally (90′ – +1/-2 : +4/-2 : +5/-4) Did well enough, though little enough to do.

Provenzano (4′ – no rating) More timewasting.

Pogarch (78′ – +4/-5 : +2/-3 : +6/-8) As I said over on the post-match thread at Stumptown:

“…it’s simultaneously possible that:
1) Po had a solid match tonight, and
2) Po becomes the first player in the league into the sin bin for yellow card accumulation.

She had a good match, yes. I’ll be interested to see what her +/- ends up, but I saw a lot of “plus” actions last night.

Still needs to use her head – that 33rd minute foul right outside the box was 1) pointless – she’d been beaten and should have depended on her teammates to pick up Monaghan, and 2) dangerous to the point of recklessness given how close the two players were to the penalty area.

And the card accumulation means her coach now has to juggle the roster even more. That’s…silly.”

Klingenberg seems to have thought so, too, by the earful she was giving Po after the foul.

Image by Paramount +. Licensed under Fair Use.

After tape review? Yes, Po had a good match, especially that cute little assist.

I also think that she, like Weaver, needs to start exercising her brain muscle more than her quadriceps.

Beckman (12′ – +1/-2) No impact.

Bixby (+1/-2 : +1/-0 : +2/-2) Quiet evening in general, but punctuated with two big saves; one off a Smith (?) shot coming through the post-free-kick scrum in the 34th minute, the second off Smith again, pulling in her shoss in the 78th minute. Other than that little to do, but the two big saves paid for the evening’s entertainment.

Zerboni swings…and misses, and Porter converts…

Coach Wilkinson: Another big win, and another win with the Replacements…so that’s pretty damn fine.

The next match is going to be interesting. Some of the internationals should be back – Raquel Rodriguez, for sure, and probably Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie. How RW integrates the internationals back in – something that Parsons struggled with – will be a challenge we’ll have to watch for.

As will be keeping her people’s eyes on the prize after two weeks off. Louisville away is another winnable game…but Louisville is proving to be a feisty group and will want to disappoint the cocky visitors.


It’s a long week off, but I’ll see you at the end of July and we might then discuss how things look at the midpoint in the season; are we where we thought we’d be in April? Better? Worse?

And where do we look to go from here?

John Lawes
Latest posts by John Lawes (see all)

7 thoughts on “Thorns FC: Gone in 660 Seconds

  1. The one thing this team has yet to do is win a close game. All wins have been shut outs and have all been by at least 3 goals. We have managed not to lose many games, so that is something, but this team has yet to grind out 1-0, 2-0, or 2-1 win. Nor have they reacted to going down by clawing back a win. I am a little afraid this team is not going to be ready for the playoffs. That is a bridge to cross months from now.

    with the remaining schedule, based on current table position and form, Kansas City away is probably our mot likely Loss left. They are playing better currently than when we opened against them.

    Otherwise 5 of the 10 games left are against the 10th, 11th, & 12th place teams. Spirit, Louisville, and Courage.

    We have Orlando and Gotham away teams we swept aside by at least 5.

    While both Chicago and San Diego can be challenging, they are both at home.

    The blowouts are fun and will he happy to see more of them, one close win would be appreciated though.

    1. Good point. This squad did fight back and nick the point in LA, but they’ve yet to set up over a single goal (or, in match that’s my biggest gripe, set up to grind out a scoreless draw they needed to stay in the Cup this spring…) and fight through for the win.

  2. One thing I would like to add to the Sugita comment was the beautiful dummy that was as important as Weavers assist in the Everett’s goal. That was so class!
    I know Weaver is not converting as many as she should, but I am sure that will come as it did for Ashley Hatch. Morgan puts herself in a lot of great positions, she is aggressive on both sides of the ball, and she plays with such a joi de vivre, who couldn’t love watching her play? Keep having fun Morgan!
    Ryan, as I noted last week, leads the NWSL in assists. I think we are going to see the same with Beckie, her finishing is less impressive than her ability to feed her teammates. With the addition of Vasconcelos the front line looks pretty deep. Porter and Moultrie are showing that the midfield has some good backup. Once Menges is healthy, I feel good about the defenders depth and I think we have three very able keepers.
    The Thorns are proving to be a really deep team. Sure there is some fall off after the best eleven, but I would argue that maybe only Seattle has as talented second eleven as Portland. And Seattle’s finishing problems are more dire than Portland’s.

    1. As discussed, the thing I want to see from Weaver is more soccer intelligence. There’s no reason she can’t play with verve AND cleverness. The best strikers can do both, and I’d like to see more of the latter to feel confident that Weaver can be that striker.

      As for depth…hard to say. The squad had little to worry about Gotham, but we’ve had trouble with stronger sides.

  3. From Bill Cornett via e-mail:

    “Good take on Weaver. She remains puzzling, and with each bricked sitter and abandoned run I feel less confident she will reach her ceiling. I’ll continue to hope it clicks for her, though, so long as she’s one of ours. Right now, I think somebody called it right a while back—opposing defenders fear Sophia Smith. I feel like they just find Weaver a pain in the ass to play against.

    Was soooooo bummed for Putellas when she blew her ACL. Brutal moment for that to happen. “

  4. Yeah, I get the sense that opposing defenses find Weaver irritating but manageable, while Smith is a nightmare and requires extra work to contain. I’d even be okay if Weaver’s chaos somehow enabled Smith to be less containable, but I get a strong impression that it’s Sugita and Beckie that are bigger assets offensively.

    And, yes – I want to see that change. An attack that combined both Smith and a converting-Weaver really WOULD be a fully operational Death Star.

  5. Thorns announced they have traded Madison Pogarch to the San Diego Wave for defender Tegan McGrady. Just based on pedigree the Thorns look like they came out on top on that one. McGrady was the 7th pick of the 2019 draft by the Washington Spirit out of Stanford and played on the 2017 National Championship team and has made 10 appearances this year for the Wave. But on the other hand Pogarch has turned into a really solid player for the Thorn’s: electrifying speed, good at crossing, aggressive defender, great teammate and fan favorite. She is fun to watch. And then again on the other hand this is good for her and Christen Westphal. So I feel good about this.
    McGrady had some injury problems in 2019 and 2020, but since joining the Wave has been a very solid LB and will have a chance to learn at the knee of one of the best LB’s in the league. She is 5’6″ and a three sport athlete in high school. Then playing for Standford and being from the Bay Area, this sounds good for her. I can’t wait to hear from SactoRick on Stumptown to get a scouting report.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.