2022 Open Thread: RW – Progress Report?

Looks like nobody wants to talk about 2015 (and I don’t blame you – I don’t either, but I find it uncomfortable to whistle past Paulson’s defensiveness…) so I thought I’d open this up while we wait for the coming week end and Orlando away.

At the beginning of the season I know we were all frustrated with the new head coach; the 3-5-2 and the string of unimpressive results had many of us slinging suggestions of #RWOut or, at least, questioning the new gaffer.

I recall saying that I was inclined to give her until at least midseason. If the team was still all in pieces and below the line then? Okay, well, that would be the deal-killer.

Here we are now, five games from the playoffs. Where do we stand?

Well, fourth.

That’s still a playoff position – which for a Thorns manager is pretty much the minimum acceptable – but not a first round bye. We’ll have to play the fifth-place team (I think…) to make the semifinals if we finish in our current position.

The table is insanely tight, though; six points separate the top six. We’re only three points behind the leaders San Diego…but only two in front of Chicago holding down the final playoff spot.

Then there’s the other part of the question; “the team still all in pieces”.

Is it? We finally thought we’d seen the best XI (well, with Sinc, but…) against San Diego here and that squad fell apart in back and couldn’t score up front and was fairly comprehensively whipped.

But that squad also hadn’t played together more than a handful of times. That’s a problem…and that’s also sort of a coaching problem. But how do you assign responsibility for that?

So I guess I’m still trying to figure out where I stand on Coach Wilkinson.

Clearly she hasn’t done the work Stoney has at San Diego. She seems to have had issues with beating both Harvey and Seattle and Navas and The Damned Courage. Our wins have come against the cans, and our goal difference has largely been because of a handful of lopsided games. We’ve conceded a crap-ton of goals in our seven draws, and our record of 7-3-7 is lopsided with draws and losses.

But…we’re still above the line. And we’ve still only lost three games, the best record on the L-side in the league. The “more-dras-and-losses-than-wins” bug has bitten everyone outside of San Diego this season.

So, what do you think? Is she a keeper? Should the FO be stroking their collective chins? Have you already boarded the RWOut train?

Let’s discuss.

John Lawes
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7 thoughts on “2022 Open Thread: RW – Progress Report?

  1. My fist question is what is our record against team in the top half of the league? I know we beat the dash and kc once, the rest are draws and losses. Doesn’t bode well for playoffs.

    1. And the KC win was on Opening Day, when the Current were still a mess. The Thorns record this season by opponent:
      San Diego: 0-1-1
      Houston: 1-0-1
      KC: 1-0-0
      OLR: 0-1-1
      CRS: 0-0-1
      ACFC: 1-0-1
      Orlando: 1-0-0
      NCC: 0-1-1
      Louisville: 1-0-0 (but this one was dire for 80+ minutes…)
      Washington: 1-0-1
      Gotham: 1-0-0
      So kinda hard to say who if anyone is bossing this squad. We haven’t been successful against San Diego, OLR, or the Damned. Everyone else is either a win, a draw, or a win-draw.

  2. I appreciated the attempt for conversation regarding the off-field stuff. I guess I just didn’t have the stomach for trying to articulate my frustration, confusion, sadness, etc.. regarding this club. A former female soccer player myself, and also a survivor of sexual assault…trying to breakdown my experiences and explain or defend myself to folks who likely don’t have the same experiences as I felt like a fool’s errand.

    So, I’m stuck between wanting to go to the games and not abandoning the folks who are (and will) take the worst of the backlash (Thorns players, RW, and KK- because let’s be real, Timbers games still remain packed)…and then just not wanting to submit myself to the monthly lashings that is being a close follower of this club. I’ve stopped going to games. Going to games to support the players is no longer sufficient justification for tolerating gross behavior and zero accountability, for me. The folks at the top continue to show unwillingness to listen, learn, admit wrongdoing, or show remorse. They’ve sucked the joy out of it for me. I don’t really know what to do, but I don’t think the same mistakes happening over and over indicate any want to change the culture. I don’t see joy returning until people are held accountable, and at this point, those consequences feel like giving the boot to the problems at the top. MP/GW/MG deserve nothing but disdain. The “but it could be worse” argument doesn’t recognize the harm already done, the harm currently being done, and the harm done in the future because nothing was done now…Soon, they’ll start losing good players and folks won’t want to come here anymore. Players, fans, coaches….losing that joy and not being proud of your club is the saddest part to me. Inevitably, the off-field problems will lead to on-field problems…if they haven’t already.

    Anyways…the actual subject of this thread? Whew…a whole other ball of frustration. I’d like to see if she can right the ship after a truly dreadful August. Repeating the same mistakes? Same results? Well, then I don’t think we can’t wonder about her career path here, especially if we slip out of play-offs or even go out in the first round. We don’t have a good record against good teams. Do I want to see a female coach who I like personally succeed? Hell yes. All that said….just the optics of firing Rhian would be terrible for this club and I don’t see it happening unless it were a truly Spirit-esque meltdown.

    1. I’m sorry. As I concluded in the earlier thread, there just doesn’t seem to be a “good answer”.

      I think the league has more-or-less forced the club (or the club has made structural changes) to prevent something like 2015 from happening again. But at the same time, Paulson’s “how dare you!” response to the ESPN piece and to the O article about Golub suggests that he’s clinging to his frat-boy mindset. So the jock culture that seems to have helped Riley get away with it for so long is still there.

      But…as I think I’ve mentioned, there’s a cautionary tale out there for “Sell the Team”; we can’t direct the sale, and, yes, there ARE worse people and worse owners (Prince Bonesaw!!!) out there. I wish to hell we could somehow change the rules to force the sale to a 50+1 Bundesliga type ownership, or an upright local ownership group. I don’t know the answer other than “It’s frustrating”. I get it.

      As for RW…I tend to agree that short of a collapse she’ll get another year. What I hope in that case is that she can look back at this season to assess her decisions and pick out what went right and what didn’t.

      Oh, and, dear god! Sinc! Retire! Please!

  3. Sophia Smith is a generational talent. Who else has had a good year? Sugita. Coffey. Hubly. It’s a short list, I think.

    Yes, moments of brilliance from Weaver, Ryan, Beckie, Rocky, Moultrie, Sinc, Kling, Kuikka, etc


    Total equals less than sum of the parts? I say yes. That has to fall on Wilkinson.

    Am I Wilkinson Out? No. Not yet. I think it’s a hard thing to take over the Parsons Project. Let’s see what she and LeBlanc can do in the off-season and what next year looks like, even if they flame out in the first round of the playoffs.

    And who knows, they still may yet hit a streak and win the shield. We shall see.

    As for the FO, I still can’t bring myself to go in the stadium. I don’t know what it will take to get over that.

  4. Cheating and responding to this after the Orlando match (which, it’s still Orlando, so not to take too much meaning from it): The Thorns are now, at least temporarily back in first place. RW has frustrated me with her handling of Sinc. But overall, without Dunn or Horan, we’re still in contention for the Shield the next season. She’s at least shown some adjustability in abandoning the 5-back system. And while I don’t think it’s all coming together yet, I’m seeing signs of a more fluid attack that should be able to be more effective against teams who are smart enough to shut down the counter-attacking hoof it to Soph offense we were relying on (we’ll need players to be comfortable with that style to actually make the final pass and shot that leads to goals, but chances seem to be coming from more complex passing sequences).

    Considering the number of coaches in this league we’ve still had this year leave –if not in disgrace then under a cloud of suspicion (and with how many were ousted last year, you would have hoped we’d run out of dirtbags) — I’d take just a good person that isn’t completely incompetent. But really, I think RW is at least above average right now. Any coach should improve in their second year as the symbiotic learning between squad and coach develops. She’s inexperienced and should improve even more than a known quantity. And I think I’m seeing some signs of improvement (though also lots of room for improvement). While we’d all love to have a terrific coach that we know is guaranteed to get the best out of the team, I’m not sure that’s a possibility.

    TLDR; I definitely think you keep her, and judge her more by her second season than the first.

    1. In stark contrast to even this question being asked, Claire & Andre on this week’s Equalizer podcast both thought RW should be in consideration for coach of the year.


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