Thorns FC: Thru a Cup Darkly

I know I said I wouldn’t write about these silly Cup ties, but last night’s match was so disturbing I can’t not say something about what I fear it says about the next three games.

1) This is who we are

The group that played in this match is – less Morgan Weaver, and while that’s not insignificant that’s also not entirely reassuring – the bulk of the squad for the next roughly five weeks and three league games or so.

So if the Thorns are going to get results out of the league for those games, they’re going to do it with this group. That means this squad will have to get points from:

  1. Kansas City here this weekend,
  2. Gotham away on 7/9, and,
  3. The Damned Courage here on 8/20.

KCC is a trashfire but will be missing only Desiree Scott. Gotham will be missing Lynn Williams and Kristie Mewis, and Carolina will be without Casey Murphy and Emily Fox.

To do that this group will have to look less-rec-league than they looked last night. I’m not even talking about sophisticated team play, I’m talking Soccer 101; completing simple passes, not coughing up turnovers, moving to space to play out of Seattle’s press.

Looking like they’d met each other more than once

The group on the pitch last night looked like a fucking junior high school recess. Izzy D’Aquila and Taylor Porter, in particular, were turnover machines, and outside of a 13th minute buildup that ended with an Olivia Moultrie miss the midfield and forwards couldn barely string two passes together.

This wasn’t getting outcoached and outplayed. This was just a poor side beating a poorer one; it looked just that bad.

It was utterly dire to watch.

By the 70th minute I was mostly just listening to the announcers while working on a spreadsheet and reading other websites.

2) Who We Are Couldn’t Hit Water If We Fell Out of a Boat

The biggest problem is that if last night was any indication we will have trouble scoring even if the opposing defenders all took a nap in the 65th minute.

Michelle Vasconcelos had no shots. Hannah Betfort had one off-frame. D’Aquila had two, also off-target.

Moultrie had the best look, that 13th minute attempt, and that was also wide. She also had three of the four on-target shots, and those were all from outside the 18. I don’t have xG or post-shot xG numbers but I’m gonna be shocked if they add up to more than 0.5, if that.

Betfort is who she is, and I didn’t expect more from her. But D’Aquila had nothing, and I’d hoped to see more from her. Vasconcelos was a passenger, too, and between those two and Betfort, and Moultrie not being able to work inside, that crushed the “attack”.

Admittedly we missed Weaver a ton.

I know we ride Sophia Smith like a mule. But the drop-off from Smith was brutal last night, and that explains why we mule her; right now she is about 60% of this club’s attack.

I sure as hell hope that Weaver is the other 40% because without her it looks like we got nothing going forward.

3) This group does Mike Norris’ coaching no favors.

I don’t know where to even start, but let’s work back from the top.

D’Aquila was a center forward in college, and, what’s more, a pure poacher. She’s not a winger, lacks winger’s skills, and looked clumsy and lost at right wing last night. Hannah Betfort is not a good forward, period. So why was Betfort the #9 and D’Aquila the RW?

Taylor Porter is not a very skilled defender, while Sam Coffey is an excellent CDM. So why was Coffey out at LM and Porter at CDM?

Meghan Nally is not a great defender, but she’s less dangerous at fullback than she is at centerback, but there she was.

Natalia Kuikka is primarily a RB and Teagan McGrady a LB, so why, when they entered late, was Natu on the left and McGrady on the right?

And the late move pushing Reyna Reyes up to the wing…WTF?

The bottom line is that when this team is at full strength it has the horses to drag it through some crap match management.

When it’s not?

Wow. Is that shit ugly.

This was a coaching loss, and it doesn’t bode well for the next available nine points. Or for the post-season, if we get there.

So Thank You, NWSL, for the WC Break!

The last two times we did this couldn’t have gone more differently.

In 2015 Paul Riley (spit!) visibly didn’t plan for the World Cup break. His squad went 1-6-2 between mid-May and mid-July and finished below the red line for the only time in club history.

In 2019 Mark Parsons’ squad went 3-1-3 through roughly the same period, whicch featured the Midgey and Charley Show and the Brief Reign of Queen Midge, which helped put the club over the line (since they lost three of their last five!).

Frankly, if last night’s mobhanded mess was Norris’ “plan” for the World Cup period? We should thank the Soccer Gods for cutting us a huge amount of slack. Because that looked a lot more Riley than Parsons.

Let’s hope for something more to smile about this coming weekend.

After last night I could use something more fun.

John Lawes
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4 thoughts on “Thorns FC: Thru a Cup Darkly

  1. That was painful. By about the 60th minute, there was a chant going, “We want Weaver.”

    The reffing was also terrible from my standpoint – there’s often more context and angles on tv, so I am not sure how bad it really was. That moment where the ref blew the corner kick call was infuriating, and they must have replayed the part where it touched the Reign player four or more times. Enough that the ref appeared to acknowledge it to Norris and then shake his hand? I don’t know if I interpreted that right.

    What a shit night.

    1. I didn’t see anything particularly awful about the officiating, but the play was so disconnected and random it was hard to tell, and by the second half I was just listening more than watching, so, there.

      Frankly, we should be sacrificing a whole ox to the Soccer Gods for limiting out potential losses to 9 points max…unless the Nats go out on a Tomato Can Tour after winning the thing! That’d suck. Can’t hope for a knockout, but hope that any sort of victory parade waits until after the season’s over…

      1. This ref was missing if it was a goal kick or a a corner kick, who’s throw-in it should go to. Part of Coffey’s press conference was her saying the ref said he got multiple calls wrong. Generally this lack of attention to details can be a bad sign of other problems. This game wasn’t a very heated derby that really needed great focus. After an early incorrect call for goal kick/corner (Reign player down for treatment I think) CR went over and had a chat with Mike. Ended up shaking Mike’s hand. I don’t think I have ever seen that happen mid game. If the CR is coming over and the 4th can’t deal with it someone on the bench is getting at least a yellow.

        I left early to catch an early max. My viewing partner bailed on my 90 minutes before kickoff, I wish I just went home then instead of sticking around. It was just sad. No one willing or able to shoot but Moultrie.

  2. It was bad. These aren’t the best of the best, but these are all professional players- I mean, it’s their JOB- how could they be this poor? Lemonade from lemons: maybe expansion draft will take Izzy b/c, wow. Possibly, as you note, she was in the wrong position, but wow. Seattle would just stroll up & say “i’ll take that” & leave w/the ball.


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