2022 Final Grades: The Midfield

Whew.

That’s been exhausting. The tension! The drama! The highs and lows and the hopes and fears!

Through it all…there’s still the club – at least, as it stands – and the league and the games to come in 2023. Will there be a new owner by then? A new head coach? New faces?

Maybe.

But for now, let’s look at who was here and how well they did…this time, in the midfield.

Here’s who the Thorns have currently rostered as midfielders:

Sam Coffey
Crystal Dunn
Lindsey Horan
Olivia Moultrie
Taylor Porter
Gabby Provenzano
Raquel Rodriguez
Yazmeen Ryan
Hina Sugita

Let’s begin with two of these players.

Horan is gone, and, frankly, I see little hope she’ll be back. She’s chasing UEFA dreams, probably another CL winner’s medal, international play for the USWNT, and even the traditional D1F licking OL hands out every year (which is like those little participation trophies every kid on every U-8 team gets, but whatever…)

Provenzano played largely as a back last season, we talked about her as such, and given the Menges situation (probably doomed either to trade or retirement…) is unlikely to move up the pitch, so we’ll let her go.

With that, let’s look at the midfield, first as a unit, then as individuals.

The Midfield From a Distance

The last time we did this we noted that one of the difficulties that Mark Parsons faced in 2019 was that he wasn’t able to assemble the midfield that he wanted for much of the season.

But compared to 2019 the Thorns midfield in 2022 was like a goddamn junior high school recess.

A little help if you’re having a tough time reading the chart above.

Matchdays are down the vertical axis. Losses highlighted in red, draws in yellow, wins in green.

Midfielders across the horizontal axis; where a player started her cell is green. Typically if the player went more than an hour the green is dark; where she was yanked at halftime the green is light and you can see the “45′ notation.

A player that was subbed on after the hour is colored in dark orange. A halftime sub on is in light orange with the 45′ notation.

It’s easy to see who the 2022 midfield mainstays were; Coffey and Sugita, with Rodriguez close behind. But when you look closer you’ll see one of the issues; they only started together in seven of the 24 matches. In two more one of them came off at halftime (Coffey on Matchday 4, Rocky on Matchday 3).

Still…barely a third of the matches for the midfield core.

Then there’s the formation changes over the year.

As we all probably remember (painfully) Coach Wilkinson started the season with the idee fixee’ that the Thorns worked best as a 3-5-2. This lasted a third of the season, through Matchday 8, and over that time the Thorns went 3-1-4.

You can see how Wilkinson was still juggling pieces around, though. Other than Coffey and Sugita Rodriguez comes and goes, Sinclair starts and then leaves for the Olympics, Ryan pops in for a couple of starts in May; for Hina-san against Houston then for Rocky in Chicago, and Moultrie subs in to the away draw in San Diego.

Finally in mid-June Wilkinson gives up on the three-back and starts experimenting, first with a straight-ahead 4-4-2

These were the 6-nil thrashing of Orlando on Matchday 9, and the 1-1 Po-to-Ryan-at-the-death draw in LA. Note that Moultrie is there, but as a sort of forward/attacking midfielder.

The coach mustn’t have been particularly happy with the old-school formation, because next she went to some sort of 4-1-4-1; at least that’s what OPTA thought she did.

It didn’t really play like that, though; it was a 4-3-3; the “outside midfielders” in the front four were nearly always wingers like Ryan, Everett, or Weaver. This was also the period where Sugita tended to show up as an outside midfielder/winger.

There’s also the weird one-time inverted-christmas-tree 4-2-3-1 at Cary in August that, again, also played as a 4-3-3 (and not well, if you remember; that was the Damned shellacking us 3-1).

Note also the musical-chair starters; Coffey is in and out, Rocky mostly out, lots of Moultrie, Porter shows up to replace Coffey, Ryan is on the pitch (mostly as a winger) and the Return of Sinc.

This formation was a bit more successful than the three-back, but not much. The Thorns went 3-1-2 through this period. But it ended with the appalling loss in Cary and presaged the dreadful 0-2 home loss to the Wave.

Finally in the stretch run Wilkinson just gave in and threw a 4-3-3 out there. Again, OPTA called it a 4-2-3-1 but the “outside mids” were now regularly either Weaver and Ryan or Sugita and Weaver so pure wingers.

This was also the most successful of the formations and the season, the Thorns going 5-1-2 after September.

You’ll note that there’s still a lot of body-swapping in and out; only Coffey is a fixture in midfield.

In particular Sugita goes out between the September draw in Kansas City (Matchday 19) and the semifinal, and then is on the bench for the final. By way of contrast, Sinclair starts five of the eight matches and subs in another. Rodriguez is fairly consistent, and Dunn shows up as a super-sub.

Moultrie disappears, though, and Porter hasn’t made a good case for a starting slot (particularly after her poor outing in the final regular season match in Jersey).

I suspect that a fair bit of this was 1) Wilkinson fixed on the three-back and 2) her learning that she didn’t have the horses (particularly the wingbacks – Klingenberg was just not clicking and struggled to track back, Kuikka had some sort of mid-season slump – and her striker Sophia Smith just doesn’t work with the whole “wingbacks bomb up and huck in crosses” style…) and changing to fit her roster.

But I also suspect was pure “new coach jitters”. One thing that unfortunately we now won’t ever be able to find out is whether the midfield struggles cured RW of her (in my opinion frankly bizarre) notion that there’s no such thing as a “player position”. She swapped midfielders around like puzzle pieces, and it’s not surprising that her midfield never seemed to really produce consistently, despite having a brilliant #6 (Coffey) and a superlative #8/10 (Sugita) as well as a solid 6/8 in Rodriguez.

Okay. Let’s now talk about midfielders as individuals.

Sam Coffey

There’s a good reason Coffey got a callup to the Nats, as well as a nod for Rookie of the Year; she was terrific.

Her PMRs are likewise at the top of the group:

One thing I looked at was “how did Coffey compare to one of the best-known midfield destroyers/defensive midfielders in the league”. Here they are, with Coffey on the right:

Who is that on the left? You probably know her.

Yeah, it’s Jess “I Love To Give Portland The Finger” Fishlock. A little better in the air, but otherwise..?

Goddamn, rook. You take ten bucks out of petty cash; hell of a damn good work.

Grade: A

Coffey (along with Smith and Hina-san) was simply the Thorns success story of 2022. We’ll have to see if her emergence was a result of working with Wilkinson, or her own doing. But she’s an unquestioned bright light leading this squad through the rainy dark months between now and April.

Hina Sugita

And, speaking of bright lights…

One thing that particularly lights me up is along the bottom; 13 of 20 shots (65%) on frame, 25% inside the frame.

I love an efficient goalscorer!

Her PMRs are consistently the highest above the mean of any player in 2022.

Combine that with her passing – 46 key passes? – just outstanding.

My initial concern was her durability, but if you look at her defensive stats other than aerial duels (and expecting a smallish midfielder to win in the air is kinda ridiculous…) Hina-san more than held her own. She’s not just clever, she’s tough as a shinobi.

We all saw and know the rest of her; terrific field vision, clever with the ball at her feet, sleek passing to teammates moving to space. That Coach Wilkinson didn’t see her as a #10 was perhaps the single stupidest fucking thing I ever heard RW say.

Sugita is the Platonic Ideal of a playmaker.

Grade: A+

I can’t be objective about Sugita. She’s just an outstanding player, and I want to see her locked into the #10 position by whoever the new gaffer turns out to be. Domo arigato goziamashita, Sugita-senshu!

Raquel Rodriguez

Rocky is the last of the “big three” midfielders. She’s also the most inconsistent.

Her PMRs reflect her stat sheet, too.

She’s not INefficient in front of goal (she’s about as selective as Weaver, about 14% conversion rate) but she’s not real efficient, either.

She’s a good passer but nowhere near Sugita’s vision and effectiveness.

She’s a solid defender.

Every so often she’ll thrill you with a golazo as she did in the semifinal.

I’d like to see a bit more scoring and assists from Rocky, and a little more creativity, but overall? She’s a damn fine midfielder.

Grade: A-/B+ (with teacher’s note: “You do so much good work! Can you do that all the time? I think you can!“)

Rodriguez is a strong cut above the squad player level, but not quite at the stratospheric elevation of our first two players. I’m not sure; she’s 29, so a huge step up at this point seems unlikely…but not impossible. Could the incoming head coach help her take that step? If she can…Rocky could become the game-breaker she is when the lightning strikes her now.

That’s the heart of our midfield. Now we have two directions to go; towards the horizons, and into the darkness.

Let’s get the bad place out of the way first.

Christine Sinclair

I wish this was more painful to write.

Sinclair is no longer starting quality. Either as a midfielder or a forward.

At the beginning of last season it was hard. Sinc is a legend, the GOAT, the last plankowner of the Thorns. She has been a fixture here for almost 20 years, since her freshman year up on the Bluff playing for another legend, Clive Charles of University of Portland.

But the way the last season played out, with Sinc struggling to make simple tackles and passes that would have been automatic in earlier seasons turned that pain first to impatience and then to frustration.

As we’ve discussed, Coach Wilkinson’s handling of her friend and national teammate was perhaps the second-most (after the 3-5-2) controversial issue of the past season.

Here she is by the numbers:

Note the sample sizes in her defensive stats; 15 tackles in over 1,000 minutes? Under 50% in her duels?

She’s still efficient in front of goal, so there’s that. But here’s first her PMRs against the squad:

And then against her previous seasons:

It’s her pluses that hurt. Sinc is just no longer playing at the level to make the sort of impact on a match that she once had.

Does that make her a “bad” player? No; she’s still the equivalent of a “good squad player”.

Is that what Christine Sinclair should aspire to?

The inclusion of Sinc in the starting lineup ensures that the other midfielders have to defend a player down; Sinc simply can’t catch up to an even-normally-pacey attacker anymore. In attack Sinc still has the right instincts, but, again, she’s got the wildly fast Morgan Weaver and the insanely crafty Sophia Smith to work with; beside them she looks plodding and out of ideas.

Now that I’ve written all that, I’m sad all over again. Captain Sinc shouldn’t be ending her career like this.

Grade: C- (by team standards) D- (by her own standards)

Sinc joins the many sporting figures who are unable or unwilling to recognize that it’s time to hang ’em up. That’s very human; she wouldn’t be who she is if she didn’t have the relentless drive to compete.

That’s where her coach(es) come in. They have to be the ones to make the decision to move her; to the bench, to retirement, to coaching…to spare her (and us) the pain of seeing her reduced to a shadow of the great player she once was.

Damn. That hurt.

OK, now. Let’s talk about the midfield players we saw off-and-on last season.

Olivia Moultrie

Young Moultrie continues to produce better and better performances. She had a very bright patch in midseason:

Between Matchday 7 and Matchday 13 Moultrie kicked ass like a crazy monkey, and I thought that she might have fought her way to a place in the regular starting midfield.

Then Sinclair returned, and Moultrie disappeared.

Her sporadic appearances late in the season were disappointing. I’m not sure, but my guess is that, having adapted and excelled as a regular Moultrie had a tough time adjusting to going back to the bench.

One thing that jumps out from Moultrie’s stats is her goalscoring; not just her efficiency but the youngster has a nose for goal; she scored at about 80% the rate of Morgan Weaver (3 goals in 708 minutes compared to 7 goals in almost 1,400 minutes) despite being a utility midfielder and not an attacking winger.

She’s tough defending – good in the air! – and clinical with her passing.

Frankly, I’d like to see her get more minutes next season; if not here – because between Coffey, Sugita, Rocky, and (sorry…) Sinclair there’s a lot of competition for minutes – on loan somewhere. Her PMRs suggest that she is better when she plays more often, and I’d like to see if her ceiling is higher than we’ve seen so far.

Grade: A-/B+

When the Thorns signed her I wasn’t sure whether she wouldn’t peak out early; I wasn’t sure whether we had the Freddie Adu of WoSo.

So far, it looks like we have the young Garrincha, and I’m excited to see more of her.

Taylor Porter

Hmmm.

That’s pretty damn impressive. Key passes might be better…but overall? Three goals on four shots? Mmmkay!

Porter’s appearances were so sporadic that I tossed her into a “reserves” remainder bin to graph her PMRs. Porter is in dark orange, and her line graph shows only between Matchdays 9 to 11 and 21 to 22. She also appeared on Matchday 13 and 16.

Unfortunately Porter’s form on those days was unimpressive, coming below the team average everywhere except Matchday 22 at Gotham and that only because the entire squad shat the bed.

I’m still up in the air about Porter. She seems statistically sound, a decent squad player at least, and showing some potential at best.

But her appearances on the pitch were less than the sum of their statistical parts.

I’m going to go against my eye-test and assume that the numbers are indicative of a useful future for her. Hope so; as good as the starting roster is I still think this squad is underpowered off the bench. I think Porter has possibilities as a reserve.

Grade: C (as a starter) B (as a reserve)

Let’s face it; right now Porter is “just a squad player”. But everyone needs squad players! Hopefully she can continue to grow and improve in that role, anyway, whether she progresses to starter, or not.

Yazmeen Ryan

Ryan is, well, kind of a weird midfielder.

That’s because she’s not really a midfielder.

She usually plays as a very advanced outside mid – if you want to try and squint and see her as such – but even more often as a straight-up winger. Go look at the midfielder charts at the top; early in the season she starts as a forward twice.

Then after Matchday 10 she starts showing up, but as an “attacking midfielder” in what’s listed as a 4-2-3-1 but she’s really playing right wing in a 4-3-3.

As such? She was very effective. Here’s her PMRs:

Her stats reflect that, too:

Running at the backline, big key passes and assists, and occasional goals, but a weak defense. That’s a winger.

As such Ryan is like the classic description of a battlecruiser; “an eggshell armed with hammers”; all attack, no defense. And, yeah…that’s a winger, too, not a midfielder, and a pretty damn good winger, at that.

The only real problem?

The Thorns spent big money on an international with damn near the exact same skillset, Janine Beckie. And with Ryan doing more for less money, ended up with a fucking expensive piece of hardware sitting on the bench.

So I don’t see how they would want to keep them both next season.

Younger? Cheaper?

I know which one I’d keep.

Grade: C+ (as a midfielder) A-/B+ (as a winger)

I like Ryan, and as ugly as the whole l’affaire Menginson has been, if KK and RW are really on their way out my guess is that Beckie is, too. And I’m fine with that; I like Ryan and I’d like to keep her here.

Crystal Dunn

Two things can be true at the same time.

Crystal Dunn can be at the center of an amazing, heartwarming, inspirational story;

Crystal Dunn can be only a marginal piece in the Thorns midfield;

Dunn was an enigma in 2021; she never really seemed to find a place to play under Parsons’ system. This season she didn’t really have enough time to work into the Wilkinson system. I think we’re going to have to wait still one more season to figure out exactly where and what Dunn will turn out to be.

I know what I hope for. But I just haven’t seen enough from Dunn – and that includes 2021 – to get a sense of whether that’s a realistic hope.

Grade: Pass (in a Pass/No Pass system)

Dunn pretty much paid for her whole 2022 with her injury-time golazo in the semifinal, and her story is a wonderful one.

But those are just the shiny bangles, the pretty extras.

Now comes the time for the hard, relentless, merciless, unforgiving grind of a full season. Of doing the hard, dirty work of a regular midfielder, of riding the tackles, picking out the runners, hammering the enemy goal.

How will she do then?

We’ll just have to wait and find out.

Summing Up

The 2022 Thorns midfield had:
A prospective Rookie of the Year (Coffey),
An outstanding playmaking international (Sugita),
An excellent international utility midfielder (Rodriguez),
A solid reserve (Porter),
A very young and potentially world-class 6/8 (Moultrie),
A former MVP coming off a big rehab (Dunn), and
A former GOAT in the twilight of her career (Sinclair).

Oh, and a winger (Ryan)!

That’s a terrific starting three, and a solid backup.

My concern is depth; once you get past the Three there’s not much support beyond Porter. I honestly think Moultrie is wasted on the bench; if we can’t find a starting sport for her we should try and get some value from her.

Dunn? Who knows? We’ll see next season.

Ryan? Damn fine winger!

Sinclair?

I could weep.

But this is a solid group right now. Put Hina-san at the #10 permanently, back her up with Coffey at the #6, Rocky and Porter and Moultrie as 6/8s, Dunn as…who knows?

Sinclair as Director of Soccer Activities.

Overall Grade: A-

Half a grade knocked off for 1) Sinclair, and 2) not finding a better use for Moultrie, but that’s pretty damn fine.

Hats off to you, midfielders. Have a drink on me.

Okay, Livvy. Not you.

And, yeah. You’re right. Grownups are kinda embarrassing sometimes.

Next up: The Strikers!

Latest posts by John Lawes (see all)

11 thoughts on “2022 Final Grades: The Midfield

  1. Good write-up, and thanks for it. I agree with pretty much everything you say.

    I’ve been under the impression that late in the season, after RW stopped tinkering, we had one of the best, if not the best, midfields in the league. Coffey and Sugita alone make the team incredible, and even if Sinclair was the third midfielder, we were still amazing. But I don’t watch other teams much except when they play the Thorns, or they’re in playoff games (and only one of those this year didn’t involve the Thorns). Was our midfield that good?

    0
    1. Our starting three were as good as any players on the other top sides; our depth wasn’t, really.

      The thing is that there were a lot of outstanding midfielders in the league last season. Off the top of my head I can thing of two midfield UNITS I think were as good as Portland’s:
      San Diego with Korneick, Jakobsson, Briede, and
      OLR with Balcer (more as a winger but sometimes an AM…), Lavelle, ‘Pinoe, Quinn (who is as good a #6 as Coffey, IMO), Fishlock.

      The Damned still have Debinha but after her I think the quality falls off – I wouldn’t trade any of ours for Speck, Berkeley, or O’Sullivan.

      Washington has Ashley Sanchez, who I really like, Feist and Sullivan as DMs, but whether they’re “good” in midfield depends on whether you put Trinity Rodman there (I don’t – I think she’s a pure winger…).

      The rest of the league just seems to have a good-or-better-ish player in midfield or two. I like ACFC’s Jun Endo, Gotham’s Mewis, Gautrat in Chicago (I’m getting a kick out of KC snarfing up grannies like Colaprico and DiBernardo like they were getting a fire sale steal…).

      KC has LaBonta and Sam Mewis, Orlando has Gunny Jonsdottir (and Marta is a midfielder, tho her day seems to be pretty much more done than Sinc’s…), Louisville? Ummm…Milliet? Nobody really stands out.

      0
      1. So I think the answer is…sorta. If you look at our record, We went 1-1-1 against San Diego and 0-0-2 against OLR. Here’s our record against the league, in order of finish:
        OLR – 0-0-2
        SDW – 1-1-1
        HOU – 1-1-0
        KCC – 2-0-1
        CRS – 1-0-1
        NCC – 0-1-1
        ACFC – 1-0-1
        LOU – 2-0-0
        ORL – 2-0-0
        WAS – 1-0-1
        NYNJ – 1-0-1

        So what was good is that we went 7-0-3 against the tomato cans. I used to rant about how the Parsons Thorns “played down to the opposition” and had trouble being ruthless with the gomers. No problem there last season.

        But against the top half of the table? 5-3-6, so only a 35% win percentage. That’s…not so good. And it’s worth noting that two of those wins were against Kansas City, whose number we had all season. Take them out and we drop to 3-3-5 against the other five, and one of THOSE is the miracle dos-golazos semifinal.

        So this is a solid squad. But our Championship – as do all championships in playoff leagues! – depended on a shit-ton of luck at the right time. The rest of the league is not even “vary far behind”; they’re right there.

        0
  2. Re RW’s saying that there’s no such thing as a “player position”, I wonder if she’s channeling Johann Cruyff, who used to say players should be able to interchange positions at will. It’s something I’ve never understood about Total Football. Maybe it was a reaction to conditions at the time, when maybe the thinking was that if, say, you’re tall and strong you can be a centerback, regardless of your ball-playing skills. Cruyff wanted everyone to have ball-playing skills. Which is true – everyone can benefit from better ball skills. But saying players are fully interchangeable seems crazy.

    0
    1. And at the time Cruyff said that – the late Sixties/early Seventies – soccer HAD fossilized. There was a lot of hoof-and-hope Route One, in part because backs had no ball skills and were relying on force and fear. The idea of a centerback playing upfield? Unpossible! Dribbling through defenses instead of passing over them? Insane!

      That’s nowhere near where we are now. Even goalkeepers have to have some skill with the ball at their feet. I don’t think that was on her mind particularly.

      What I think she might have been thinking is that in the small-roster world of WoSo and the NWSL in particular it’s tremendously helpful to have players who are versatile, so it’d be nice if Beckie could play right wing AND left, or Nally fullback and centerback.

      Problem is that while that’s possible, it’s also like asking a duck to play the trumpet; even if it can…why not find a trumpet player? She’ll be better at it.

      So she would put Kuikka out on the left and Kuikka, who’s strongly right-footed, would respond to challenges by turning inside to put the ball on her strong foot rather than continuing up the touchline. That’s entirely to be expected.

      So I think the “no position” thing is more a RW hope than a really thought out plan. And as we’ve found out repeatedly, hope is NOT a plan.

      I’m fascinated to see who comes in to replace her; RW seemed to have learned a lot and helped set the squad up to succeed. Any successor might want to start out trying to continue where RW left off…but maybe not repeating the positional swaps…

      0
      1. I do believe there is some truth to athleticism that fit multiple positions, but it’s more situational than a general proposition.

        Most NWSL players are the best players in their club or team settings and most coaches put their best players forward. That’s going to change as you move up in levels, but it’s still present in college (see Kelli Hubly).

        Crystal Dunn can be both an outstanding fullback and midfielder based on how she plays defense/pushes pace. She’s also won a golden boot as a forward. Dunn hasn’t scored as much as I’d like, but that 4-4-2 made Horan and Rodriguez look average too. Dunn looked pretty damn good coming back last year even if it was limited minutes. Pace and complete play offers flexibility. My assumption is Kuikka would fit that same description.

        I never viewed Ryan as a midfielder, because her long passes are her biggest weakness. Her biggest strength is her ability to dribble go forward and complete short area passes on the move. That translates to forward more than Midfielder,

        I think people thought I was nuts when saying Coffey would likely be our 6 last year, but the way she played her second to last year at Penn State said it was possible and the accuracy of her longer passes were mind blowing in college

        I don’t believe you can use generalizations about position changes, but most of the time … it takes time, which is why what Coffey did was even better. A player that young matching the former MVP in the prime of her career says we have a lot to look forward to

        0
        1. Soccer-specific skills; pace, vision, body position…all those are more likely to make a player successful, regardless of position. All players are stronger at some aspects of the game, weaker at others. That makes them fitter at some positions than others. It doesn’t mean they’re not fungible to some extent, and the higher the level of the skillset the more flexible the player.

          But I think RW’s concept pushed that envelope too far. She put players in positions that were clearly not well suited to their skills. That hurt her squad. I’m not going to argue that her idea was complete nonsense, but the degree with which she seems to have tried to implement it didn’t work well IMO.

          I don’t think Dunn looked much of anything last season. She didn’t trip and fall over the ball! Good! And she hammered a golazo in the semi! Even better!

          But I don’t think we can generalize more than that. She looked adrift in Parsons last season. I think we’ll have to wait and see how she does in ’23 before we have a sense whether she’s going to return to her pre-2021 form.

          I agree that Ryan isn’t really a midfielder, which is why I said what I said about her. But the team rosters her as a midfielder, and these posts are organized around how the team rosters the players, so that’s why she appears here.

          0
  3. Everything you talked about sort of describes what I saw. However, regarding Sinclair, I would rather see Sinc as a super sub. DiMaria came in the Argentine/Netherlands game in about the 100 minute with a bad quadricep and definitely slower than normal, but helped settle a reeling Argentine squad that was definitely height disadvantaged. Blue and white players began to hold the ball and prevent the Dutch from getting set piece opportunities. Yes, Sinc is slower than she used to be, but she is still crafty and valuable.
    But I wanted to comment on what has become my favorite positions #6. When Henry came I started to realize how important that position was. When she left I hoped Allie Long would step in because I knew she admired Sergio Busquets, but she was still seeing herself as an #8. When Parsons picked up Purse, Onamanu and Salem. Angela was the one I was most excited about because I though she would be a reliable player there. And I was impressed with Seiler, but both went out with injuries. When Salem came back she was even better than she had been before and I didn’t think she could be replaced. Hello Sam Coffey! The USWNT has been dying for a good #6 since Ertz was injured. To me Coffey is the closest to Ertz out there. She has the communication skills that Sullivan doesn’t and (knock on wood) she seems more durable than Sullivan. She is not Ertz yet, but she is good.
    I loved your comparisons of players to other elite palyers. I appreciated that. One player you didn’t compare to players other than the team as a whole was Hina Senshu. I can see that, who is she like? When I go to YouTube to look at replays I love to watch the YouTube of Hina versus the USWNT. That is great stuff! What a little magician she is. I look forward to this coming year’s SBC. Still cheering for the US, but I will be savoring every delightful touch by Hina.

    0
    1. I’m not sure Sinc will be willing to come off the bench. It’d take 1) a lot of recognition of her current form that I’m not sure she has and 2) a coach willing to explain her vision of how Sinc needs to work and stick with it.

      I didn’t really have any good comps for Hina-san simply because she is as unique as truly good players tend to be, and a true #10, something the Thorns have never really had since the Riley (spit!) years with Vero, and Vero is a dim memory at this point. My comment on her is that she, Smith, and Coffey are the three big success stories of the past season, so if there are any players to compare with her it’d be Smith and Coffey, and if you go to the Forwards post you’ll see I show Smith’s PMRs with Sugita’s and Hina-san actually comes off looking slightly better. So, there’s that…

      1
      1. John … thank you for putting these out there. Sometimes all I want to do is talk about soccer and we haven’t been able to do that lately.

        We don’t always agree, but I love reading your takes. I think you have more in common with my devils advocate voice, but I do try to look at the process and obvious weaknesses can be developed

        0

Leave a Reply

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