In this edition of TFC: I really wanted to go deep into the Thorns’ improbable playing-with-ten-for-over-an-hour-in-the-August-heat-and-smoke 2-1 win over the formerly top of table North Carolina.
This was such a good match, and I wanted to have hard numbers on who on the club did the most to reverse what in the 19th minute seemed like Portland-doom; Kelli Hubly ejected for a “denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity”, Tyler Lussi scoring off the ensuing free kick, giving the Damned Courage the lead and the opportunity to sit back and throttle a Sophia Smith-, Crystal Dunn- and Hina Sugita-deprived Portland.
Because fucking Paramount “plus” made an utter shitshow of the stream.
There’s about a total of ten minutes available; a blink in at the 6th minute – less than sixty seconds worth of tape – and another in the 14th – showing the DOGSO but not the free kick and goal – then about three minutes between the 37th and 41st minute, showing Hannah Betfort’s equalizer, and then nothing until the 53rd minute.
I got about four minutes there, then the sonsofbitches jumped again; saw Smith come on in the 67th and score in the 69th, then another jump into the 83rd minute, thirty seconds there and then it was the final whistle.
That was all,.
A total of 10 out of 99 minutes.
I’ve seen Paramount-minus screw up before – the Impressionist painting images I’ve shown here before aren’t exactly an unknown thing – but this is the worst I’ve ever seen it.
I have nothing I can rely on to do any sort of real analysis of it.
Which is too damn bad; this might well have been the most impressive outing this squad has put together so far this season.
Despite the sending-off the Thorns didn’t lose shape. The midfield, especially, supported the backline and kept Carolina from overrunning the defense. The defense kept The Damned largely in front of them, forcing Carolina to rely on attempts from distance. The entire back six, particularly including Sam Coffey and Raquel Rodriguez, were where and when they needed to be.
Bella Bixby came up big several times – including a massive 58th minute 1v0 stop on Olivia Wingate – and controlled her penalty area well in general.
Olivia Moultrie and Morgan Weaver provided lovely service on the goals.
And Betfort and Smith with the finish.
Mike Norris’ substitutions were timely – especially yanking Christine Sinclair for Meghan Nally in the 22nd minute – and effective.
I’d purely love to have had the PMRs for this game; I think there might have well been some performances-of-the-season-to-date. I wanted to apologize in hard numbers to Sophia Smith for thinking she’d still be dragged from the World Cup, and to relish the clever partnership she’s crafted with Weaver. I wanted to celebrate Hannah Betfort’s pluses that, in her own way, show how much she’s grown into a very solid striker.
And I certainly wanted to hand Norris a rose for his role in turning what could have been an utterly devastating match into a thumping win.
In other words, I wanted to post a good, solid “Thorns FC” piece.
“Plus” my ass.
Now, though, comes the hard part; hanging on to the momentum from this win.
If this squad has had a constant this year, it’s been inconsistency. Form hasn’t held for more than a game or two. Play a blinder, then fall apart. Stink up the joint one week, then sweep all before them the next.
This has the potential to be a season-maker. A take-off point for the club to run wild through the final six matches of the season and into the playoffs.
I’d like to think that’s going to happen.
Let’s go to D.C. next week and find out.