Thorns FC: Nothing Happened

Well, maybe not NOthing. There were points on offer, and the Thorns got one.

But in the most anemic, disorganized, meek, and flaccid way possible;

The “excuse” for Portland is this:

That’s the Thorns walking wounded lined up in the front row of the Lumin Field skybox, but even they look bored with the primordial soccer soup sloshing about the football turf below.

I think Sophia Smith is actually asleep, Morgan Weaver is playing with her phone, and Sam Coffey appears to be gazing out at the Seattle skyline, probably wishing she was anywhere but watching two ignorant armies clashing by late afternoon.

But as my old drill sergeant used to say; the maximum range of an excuse is zero meters.

Seattle is a bad team right now. Even a Thorns B-side should have been able to deliver more danger than 0.06 post-shot xG and no goals. The big boost for Smith’s MVP campaign is how utterly bereft the Thorns’ “attack” looked without her.

This was a chance for the reserve attackers – Dias, D’Aquila, Linnehan – and the midfield creators like Beckie and Fleming – to step up. One – Beckie – did, as we’ll get to in the comments. The others flailed around looking like the pickup squad they were, unable to find a way through Laura Harvey’s midfield logjam.

There’s really not much more to say about this forgettable muddle. Except this:

I was skeptical about the crazy-quilt broadcast deal when it was announced, and so far it’s been predictably meh. But the notion that CBS could schedule two live women’s sports events (an LPGA tournament and this match) and not end up with chaos was idiotic on its face.

That was the first mistake. It then led to a cascade of fuckups that had soccer fans chasing the match from CBS to the CBS app (nope!) to the NWSL+ gimmick (nope!) to Paramount+ (nope!) to CBSSN (also nope!) and finally here…

…to Twitch and our old pal El Profe who we last visited to see the Hubly Red Card Wedding back in August of last season.

I sure hope he had more fun that I did. Christ but this one was a bore.

Road point? Reduced roster? Oooookay, fine.

But this coming weekend is gonna be a whoooole lot different.

Short Passes

Seattle outpassed Portland 441 to 381, and completed 84% to Portland’s 78%.

Here’s our “vaudevillian cane” blogger andre carlisle’s takes on all this:

As we noted above, Janine Beckie was lit. Everyone else? No.

Here’s Seattle:

That’s a picture of Harvey right there.

That said, this was pretty. One-two passing, little diagonals, the whole length of the pitch. Only time either side looked like they had a clue and unfortunately it wasn’t ours. Didn’t so much as produce a shot, mind.

Pretty soccer is good. Winning soccer is better.

Turnover and over.

Here’s how things are going

Opponent (Result) – 2024Turnovers
Kansas City (L)43
Gotham (L)30
Louisville (D)54
Carolina (L)34
Houston (W)No data
Chicago (W)No data
Bay FC (W)41
Washington (W)26
Seattle (W)20
Houston (W)21
Orlando (L)28
North Carolina (W)27
Seattle (D)26

Give him credit for cutting down the giveaways; Coach Ken has been on point there. Sadly the old saying “If you don’t concede you can’t lose” works the other way, though; no matter how tidy you are if you can’t connect the ball and the goal you can’t win.

Largely because she had to try and do most of the feeding to the frontline Marie Muller led the Losers with a shocking nine. Kelli Hubly horked up five, including four truly awful slow-and-close-to-her-own-goal giveaways. Beckie and Jessie Fleming turned over three each, and nobody else coughed up more than two

Corner Kicks

Two, both in the first half, both long into the box.

34′MullerLongDickey came out strong to claim.
37′MullerLongOver the byline for a goal kick



Eleventh full match tracking Portland throw-ins in 2024 (lost data from Houston and in Chicago).

The two sides took 37 throws between them; Portland led with 21 (eight first half, 13 second), Seattle tossed 16; six first half, 10 second.

Of Portland’s throws 18 (85.7%) resulted in an improvement in Portland’s tactical position. That’s terrific, and credit to Muller, Reyes, and Payne. Two (9.5%) were poorly taken and went against Portland. The other wasn’t observed as the camera cut away before the throw.

Seattle gained from 11 of 16 (68.7%) and lost on three (18.7%). Two were either “neutral” or were lost to camera cutaways to someone eating salmon or whatever the hell they eat in Seattle.

Here’s how that’s going:

OpponentAdvantage gainedAdvantage lostOpponent gainOpponent loss
Kansas City62.5%8.3%59.2%40.1%
Bay FC64.2%28.5%71.4%28.5%

Though the Thorns were better from the touchline that didn’t seem to make much difference on the field. Just kind of a chaotic mess.

I love this kit SOOOOO much!

Player Ratings and Comments

D’Aquila (+7/-4 : +1/-1 : +8/-5) Frustrating.

Izzy D’Aquila has the makings of a striker. She makes smart runs. She’s often in dangerous positions. Here’s a closeup of the Henderson xG plot:

…showing her with damn near half the Thorns’ looks. But.

She hasn’t managed to lift her poacher’s skills to the professional level. She remains, as she has been for a season-and-a-half, “promising”…but that promise is beginning to lose its’ shine. I love a lot of what she brings. But at some point she has to turn those skills into goals.

Linnehan (73′ – +4/-4 : +0/-0 : +4/-4) Kind of less-but-similar issues here. Got good looks, couldn’t convert.

The difference being that Linnehan is a true rookie, and that’s a big ask. Still shows good everything; workrate, instincts, aggression. It’d be great to see her bookended with Beckie or Weaver with Smith at the point of the spear to see if she can go beyond “promising”.

Klingenberg (17′ – +3/-0) Not a discreditable shift but what the fuck? Was this Ken giving up and settling for the road point? Otherwise, weird sub.

Beckie (+11/-1 : +7/-2 : +18/-3) Woman of the Match. Pretty much everything positive the Thorns did at Lumin were because Beckie started something. I’ve been hoping to see something like this from her. It was wasted because there wasn’t anyone to take her up on what she offered, but if she can stay at this level when Coffey and Smith and Weaver return? That could be dynamite.

Sinclair (62′ – +5/-3 : 0/-1 : +5/-4) Meh.

Not awful, which is kind of damning, and did some work in the first half, but was gassed before the hour. I didn’t have the sound up, so I missed hearing the Seattle fans cheer her off the way we did ‘Pinoe last season. Umm…they did cheer her off, right? Washed or not, the woman is a living legend.

Dias (28′ – +4/-0) Another sorta-kinda shift from the Portuguese international. Hard to tell if it was her just because the whole roster was so bereft.

Fleming (87′ – +6/-2 : +3/-5 : +9/-7) What can I say?

She’s not horrible? Okay, she’s not horrible. She’s not the boat-anchor tired-legs-Sinclair is.

For her cost, though? She’s not doing what she was hired for. That’s a problem, and I don’t see parking Sugita at the #6 to watch Fleming do jack shit at the #8 is really a good answer.

Wade-Katoa (3′ – +1/-0) No impact.

Sugita (+2/-3 : +3/-1 : +5/-3) Disappointing. Not sure whether it’s personal or tactical; Hina-san is wasted at DM, but who else was there, and we needed at least a point. Just dissatisfying all around.

Reyes (87′ – +3/-2 : +2/-0 : +5/-2) I could write this for all the defenders; okay, fine. Kept the clean sheet…against a terrible opponent, so hard to really hand out roses. Let’s see how we do against Kansas City before we do that.

Payne (3′ – +1/-0) Needed pace so needed Payne so not bringing her on sooner is kind of a head-scratcher.

Hubly (+3/-4 : +6/-5 : +9/-9) Hubs got a bit of fan-love for this one, which is like handing a hero medal to her for fighting off a fierce squirrel attack. No big derps, sure, but that’s a hell of a low bar.

Sauerbrunn (+3/-1 : +3/-2 : +6/-3) Had to come forward to cut off attacking passes a lot, meaning that the midfield wasn’t, which without Coffey is not a shock, exactly.

Muller (+2/-3 : +2/-5 : +4/-8) Back to her “second half problems” mode, but worth noting that four of those five second half minuses came off a single sequence in the 64th minute where she turned the ball over twice, got caught out of position, and missed a stab-tackle. So not as troubled as her numbers suggest. Still…needs to keep her head in for the full 90.

Hogan (+0/-0 : +2/-0 : +2/-0) A couple of strong aerial takes, otherwise untroubled.

Coach Gale: Like everything else about this match, low bar cleared, but…

The roster was a given all week, so the gaffer had that time to come up with some ideas. What happened on the pitch suggested that 1) they weren’t really good ideas, or 2) the players couldn’t do anything with them.

The problem of “this is not really a playoff team without Smith” remains.

This coming weekend will be the biggest test since Orlando, and if this squad has genuine championship ambitions?

They will have to do better.

John Lawes
Latest posts by John Lawes (see all)

8 thoughts on “Thorns FC: Nothing Happened

  1. Disappointing to walk out of Lumen with only a point, but given the injury/suspension list, not surprising. It points up the advantage Gotham and KC have, which is more quality depth than we have. KK, you listening?

    Also I thought K-Hubs pretty well. She’s a solid defender, with the problem being her derps; if there aren’t any, she’s generally good. It seemed like she had a bunch of blocks, indicating good positioning, but maybe I’m remembering more of those than there were.

    1. Given the dire state of Seattle this SHOULD have at least been more lopsided. It’s not JUST the depth, it’s not having a tactical plan to get the best OUT of the depth. Beckie was tearing it up, Fleming should be tearing it up, Linnehan, Dias, D’Aquila aren’t bad, Sugita is terrific…I agree that with Harvey playing not-to-lose crap it would have been hard to take all three. But PSxG damn near zero? That’s…not good.

      And if “good” means “not making a match-losing error” that stretches “good” out of recognition. Seattle produced damn near nothing; it’s not hard to not make big errors when you opponent doesn’t come at you. Hubly did put her face in front of the ball, so good on her for that. But it’s not like Seattle did more than blast shots straight at her, and her turnovers were yikes.

      She’s replacement-level if she’s not in Derp Mode. But if Obaze is healthy I see no point in starting her.

    2. Its tough to complain about the depth for this game, with our two best players out (Smith & Coffey), our second best goal scorer out (Weaver) and possibly our 3-4th best scorer out as well (Moultre). I don’t know of a club team (Mens or Womens) that could look so good if you took out 4 of the top 8 players on the team, you have to look to a National Team to be able to absorb that much attrition. But even with that, I agree that the Thorns should have been more dangerous.
      Coming into the game I just didn’t know where the goals were going to come from, and it showed in the game.

      1. The fact that our depth – playing against the second-worst team in the league! – created fuck-all is EXACTLY why it’s legit to complain about the club’s depth. I don’t expect “look good”, but I expect the coach to know what he’s got and do what he can with it. I expect better than 0.06 PSxG!

        We can’t expect to go anywhere this season if we can’t score without one player. That’s too easy to stop, and coaches smarter than Harvey will pants us for that.

  2. So here’s a thing I’ve noticed. Every time Hogan catches a cross or shot she immediately charges to the edge of the box like she’s going to launch the ball. And then she stops and dawdles around until everyone is back upfield. 100% of the time. Would it kill her to start a fast break or put a ball over the top every once in a while? Like, before the opponent gets their defense organized? Even just to keep them honest? We’ve seen Sheridan at the Wave contribute to the attack occasionally. I can’t say I have ever seen Hogan do it.

    1. I think it’s as much on her teammates as her, especially the XI she had at Lumin. There’s not a ton of pace there, and the idea of “moving to space” still seems foreign to the Thorns – it’s notable that we NEVER saw anything remotely similar to that pretty little 91st minute passing sequence from Portland.

      But that’s worth looking into. DID Hogan have outlets she could have whipped out a pass to? If she did, and she’s not doing that, that’s something her coaches need to jump on and she needs to change…

      1. And I note that that lack-of-quick-outlet was an Angerer thing. The Angerer line of keepers – Franch, Betos, Eckerstrom, Geist, Hogan – none of them were or are good distributors or routinely get the ball upfield quickly. They learned that from the Master…

        1. The only time I remember Thorn keeper doing that was AD to Weaver who headed it ahead to Smith who scored. If the keeper has an arm it might be more accurate than kicking it to whoever.
          I watched a bit of of Utah versus KC that ended in a 1-0 win for KC. My takeaway is be careful playing out of the back. Chawinga is fast, blindingly fast and the only reason the score was about 7-0 is Chawinga was incredibly unlucky. The Thorns defense has been pretty good lately, but boy Sunday will be a test.


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