I’ve run through our opponents. I’ve talked about the draft and our performance last season.
I kinda got nothin’.
Until the season opens – which is in barely over a month! – we’re just going to have the usual before-the-season rumor mill. So I’m going to open this one up. Anything you want to talk about? Hit me in the comments! Let’s discuss!
I got one; this picture, from the Thorns Facebook feed.
Y’know what jumps out at me from this?
Smiling, comfy, jogging in the squad warmups, no problem, no stress, nobody giving her the “You got our coach fired, bitch!” stinkeye…
I wasn’t sure how l’affaire Mengison would play out.
This suggests that, at least for public consumption, the squad is over it and working together. Could there be hidden stress fractures that might break out in adversity? Sure! Anything’s possible. But, at least for now, there appears to be no hard feelings in the squad.
Speaking of the squad, I was interested to see the name of Chaylyn Hubbard show up on the NRI list. Hubbard was a prospective right back draftee I discussed back in January. I mentioned her because she and Abigail Wolf from Pacific University were early favorites on Chris Henderson’s RB deaft board. I wrote:
“Here they are matched up:
|Player||Pass %||Key Pass||Duels||Aerial||Tackle||Interception|
Wolf seems the better player by all the metrics, but remember that she played for a 1) pretty small school that had 2) a really awful 2022 season in a 3) second-tier conference.
Worth noting that TCU lists Hubbard as a midfielder; the Horned Frogs might have played a three-back and so considered their outside backs as wingback-midfielders, or she might be a true midfielder and Henderson has her listed wrong (but her stat sheet for 2022 lists 10 shots and 3 assists in 24 games, which sounds more like a true fullback than a wingback).”
Neither was drafted, and Wolf just signed in Norway, so I’m kind of intrigued to see Hubbard here. Is this a potential World Cup replacement? Or could Hubbard play her way onto the squad? I’ll be intrigued to see what happens.
I’m hoping to see some preseason games here – although the short time left before the season opens suggests we might not have any, or at least nothing more than a scrimmage against UO or something – and have some preseason notes to post before the end of March. We’ll see.
And, I should add a note: the 107ist issued a statement on Valentine’s Day asking for the fans to turn out for the Timbers and Thorns regardless of their feelings about Paulson.
Yeah, well…what else could they do?
Paulson isn’t going to sell. The league won’t force him, and short of a massively punitive boycott there’s no local groundswell to hit him in the pocket.
So if you’re a “Timbers fan organization” you’re gonna kinda have to deal with that. He’s won; vae victus, woe to the vanquished.
I don’t have to like that.
But I can’t pretend it’s not the fact.
Update 2/21: I was resigned to not having true preseason tune-ups before the season starts in a month; the interval seemed too short and there hasn’t been so much as a peep out of the FO about them. But Daniel Stratton in the comments found a Laura Harvey presser that suggests that at least the Reign will be here to scrimmage sometime between now and the season opener:
In the past this preseason “tournament” has included one other NWSL team (IIRC it was Chicago in 2022) as well as a local college squad – typically OSU or UO – and the US U-23 WNT.
The junior Nats are in France right now, so I’m not sure if they would be available. But certainly the college teams and another NWSL squad – ACFC or SDW are now close enough to make travel less onerous – could certainly make the trip.
So…I’m now cautiously hopeful. I’ve always enjoyed these preseason scrimmages. Everything about them – the cold rain of late winter, the relaxed, almost lazy atmosphere, the anticipation of searching out form and faces, looking for hints of how the squad might shape – is pure fun.
So…here’s hoping we get good news soon!
Update 2/23: According to Kassouf the first use of VAR in the NWSL will take place this coming week:
“…it will get its first test in a real game scenario that involves NWSL teams: a Wave intrasquad scrimmage at Snapdragon on Wednesday, followed by a Pride-Current game at Exploria on Thursday.”
I’m cautiously optimistic. One of the biggest issues I’ve seen over the ten years in this league has been officiating, ranging from sketchy to downright appalling. Will VAR be a magic bullet? Of course not. But, hopefully, it’ll help both with correcting obvious errors on the field and with making the center referee more aware that their calls will be under review so they’ll think harder about their work.