It was a little over eight years ago, October 2015, that the Seattle NWSL team played for the league championship.

That year, though, the team then still known as the “Seattle Reign” had run the table, winning the league by a full ten points over the then-perennial runners-up Chicago. It was the second year in a row that Laura Harvey’s club had thumped everyone (2014 the beating was worse; 13 points better than Vlatko Andonovski’s Kansas City Blues).

The previous year the two clubs had climbed through the playoffs (Seattle beating Mark Parsons’ Washington, FCKC beating Paul Riley (spit!) and the Thorns) to meet at the low-rent “stadium” in Tukwila (Starfire? Anybody remember that shithole?) in front of a traditionally-sparse Seattle Reign “crowd” (4,252 so Wikipedia tells me…).

NWSL Sunday, August 31, 2014 FCKC 2 vs SRFC 1

Amy Rodriguez put two past Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe could only pull one back, so Vlatko’s people took home the spatula.

So the following year, Harvey, Rapinoe & Company wanted…

Here’s the thing, though.

That year’s Final was here.

In Portland.

It was the first season that the league went from siting the Final at the higher seed’s home to a “neutral” venue. My guess is that it had a lot to do with the first two; 2013 in dinky little Rochester, and 2014 in the upholstered dumpster that is Starfire. It made the league look rinky-dink and small time, and the idea was to move to bigger, fancier digs to make the show look more professionally glossy.

I have NO idea what genius at NWSL Headquarters thunk that one up, but I’ll bet at some point every day over the two weeks between the semifinals (Seattle beating Parsons’ Washington – again – and FCKC whipping Chicago) and the Final there went something like this:

Jeff Plush, NWSL Commissioner: “Portland, you said! Soccer City, U.S.A., you said! Great venue, big exposure, huge crowd, you said! Yes! You said all that shit!”

Public Relations Director/Flunky: “Sir, I…”

JP: “Portland? PORTLAND??!!?? That was your brilliant plan? Portland? Where every living thing down to the fucking household pets hates fucking Seattle??!!

PRD/F: “Sir, How could I…”

JP:Why couldn’t you come up with a simple, sensible idea like starting a fucking land war in fucking Asia? Hunh?”

And, sure enough, if you threw in the couple of thousand people who made the trip down from the shores of Puget Sound about 98% of the remaining 11,000 people in the old barn came to howl hate at the Queens of the North and the death of their championship dreams.

In that crowd was a handful of people who’d had a simply brilliant idea.

Take rolls of those blue industrial shop towels and spray paint some A.C.E.S. stuff on them, and then hand them out to the rabid haters in the North End. It was such a brilliant idea that I had to score one, and keep it. I have it to this day.

The towels, and Amy Rodriguez, worked a treat; Seattle lost 1-nil.

Last night Harvey and Seattle gave this “NWSL Championship Game” thing one more shot.

Ha! Suck on it, Seattle! Good to see the old shop towel hasn’t lost it’s magic.

Here’s something though; Midge Purce.

Yazemeen Ryan, Mana Shim, Sinead Farrelly, Abby Smith, Michelle Betos, Allie Long, McCall Zerboni.

That’s a lot of familiar names, innit?

(Emily Sonnett was stuck with the L, sorry, Sonny. You count as an ex-Thorn too, tho)

Kinda makes you think.

Now that the season is over there’s time to think about a lot of things.

Who’s buying the Thorns? IS someone buying the Thorns? (We’re told they are, but we’re not getting any real details about that, starting with “who” and moving on to the “how much” and “when”. In fact, we pretty much know nothing.)

Who might be here next season, and who might go? We know two people are gone as of now; Crystal Dunn, and Nadine Angerer.

Angerer is kind of “an angry shrug”. She’s been a solid keeper coach, and replacing her will be difficult.

That said, 1) for an assistant coach to have stuck around across three – almost four, since she was in the lineup in 2014 and 2015 – managers is so far outside the norm as to be almost freakish. It’s great for the club that she did, but it’s hardly shocking that she’s finally reached the end of the string, and 2) this season did her no favors. Her starting keeper had serious issues, ended up the worst starter in the league by nearly all individual metrics, and never seemed to get help from her coach.

Dunn? I have no idea.

First, the way she bolted was weird. Showing up in LA to play in the “skills challenge” thing but not wearing her Portland kit – that’s her just to the left of the “carmax” sign in the plain white T-shirt (but with her Thorns #19 on the back? WTF?) – and then supposedly at one point grabbing the mike to announce “I’m looking for a job!”.

The Thorns have issues. Let’s not kid ourselves.

But the Thorns also saw this player through her pregnancy and rehab, did right by her, it seems, and so it then seems pretty small for her to shuck off her badge the moment the semifinal whistle blew and her season was done.

I don’t know, honestly. But she’s done, one way or the other.

I am sure of this; these two are only the first.

We’ll see who else goes, and comes, before we hear the first sound of boot on ball next spring.

Between now and then I’ve got some things I’d like to drop here.

Another round of the corner kick study we started after 2021 and continued after 2022. We’ll see if former-setpiece-coach Mike Norris did anything to affect the Thorns one way or another on setpieces.

A summary of the dataset we assembled on throw-ins, and some analysis of what that means (or not).

A “Drafts and Deals” post after the NCAA and expansion drafts.

At some point before the season begins, a look at the roster. I weighed doing another of the “Final Grades” posts series, but I think there’s going to be a lot of roster churn, and we’ll be better off looking at the roster before the camp opens.

But here’s a question for the readership; is there any value to another of those “S-2 Briefing” posts covering the opponents for next year? I look back now and I’m kind of embarrassed at how wrong I was. Should I go ahead and be brutally wrong again? Any value in killing off-season time with that stuff?

And…what else? Anything appeal to anyone, or everyone in particular? I’m willing to take a shot at almost anything – it’s the offseason, and what the hell else is there to do? Give me some ideas, and I’ll see what I can do; I live to entertain.

Now, excuse me, I have to go and gloat a little more about Harvey “0-for-3” & Co. See ya in a bit.

John Lawes
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