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Thorns Down Under: Absent but Still Present

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If Thorns played in the W-League and no one brought cameras, did they really play at all?

W-League Rd 7 - Brisbane v Newcastle
Britt Eckerstrom tangles with former Thorn Claire Polkinghorne.
Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

It wasn’t the most thrilling weekend in the W-League for Thorns fans, as none of the Thorns playing made it to television. It’s like that sometimes in this league, where a shockingly low percentage of the games get any kind of coverage. Hopefully the interest from America, as well as growing interest domestically, will push teams to provide video of their untelevised games in the future, but for now we have to make do with Twitter reports and post-match coverage from the clubs themselves. The schedule makes up for it next week with two televised games, both of which should feature Thorns players in tough and entertaining contests.

Weekend in Review

Melbourne City 2, Canberra United 1

Ashleigh Sykes did not even make the bench due to injury as Canberra fell to Melbourne City away. Sykes was feeling worse for wear after being on the wrong side of Hayley Raso’s work ethic last week, and her absence was felt as Canberra struggled to produce decent opportunities on goal.

The Canberra front three which looked so dangerous against Perth Glory in round 5 looked short of quality on the right—Matildas winger Michelle Heyman got a goal and a few good crosses, but Norwegian international Elise Thorsnes looked isolated and was making some Tobin Heath-esque frustration fouls. Without Sykes’s running and holdup play on the right, a lot of the responsibility to create in that area fell on 17-year old Australian international Ellie Carpenter. She was moved up closer to the goal near the end of the game as Canberra pushed for an equalizer, and looked good both on the ball and running into space.

The game was basically a sunnier NWSL game, with 12 players between the teams playing their soccer primarily in the US, including starts for both Seattle Reign keepers. Haley Kopmeyer looked much better than Lydia Williams, who let in Canberra’s goal after a passing the ball straight to Heyman, her international teammate. It’s the second time Williams has made a mistake like that on television this year. Meanwhile, Jess Fishlock got both of Melbourne’s goals and won player of the match.

Orlando Pride head coach Tom Sermanni was in attendance to scout his players, and possibly Carpenter as well, who could serve as a long-term replacement for Ali Kreiger should she ever, heaven forbid, decide to retire. Sermanni may have an edge as a former Australia coach, but there’s sure to be competition for Carpenter’s signature should she want to go to the NWSL—it’s not a league flush with natural right backs, and she’s got the ability to compete at the highest level. Take note, Gavin Wilkinson.

Sydney FC 3, Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Not televised)

Sydney defeated their local rivals, giving them a 3-game win streak and pushing them into the top half of the ladder for the first time this season. Murmurs were that Emily Sonnett was a bit too involved in attack from the center back position on a few plays, though whatever mistake she may have made didn’t seem to have lead to a goal.

Show us the proof, Ann!

Brisbane Roar 0, Newcastle Jets 3 (Not televised)

By all reports a strange game, where Chicago Red Stars defender Arin Gilliland (who plays further forward for Newcastle) scored a first-half hat trick against the run of play. A combination of wasted opportunities and a strong performance from Britt Eckerstrom in goal kept the Roar out. Celeste Boureille’s play merited a mention in the Roar’s post-match report, which noted her tireless defending in midfield against Australian international Emily Van Egmond. Raso had a shot cleared off the line and, we imagine, probably worked very hard.

Next week

Emily Sonnett and Sydney FC play host to Canberra United on Thursday. It will be interesting to see if Sonnett is asked to change her game to take into account how many players Canberra play in attack. If she does get to attack, it will likely be Elise Thorsnes tracking her from the front line, which should be an entertaining contest. Hopefully Sykes will be able to recover from her injury to make the squad, though no information about her injury has been released.

On Saturday, Brisbane Roar will host a dangerous looking Melbourne City. How will Raso respond after failing to create a goal for two weeks straight? On the other side of the pitch, Boureille will be going up directly against the in-form Jess Fishlock. There’s no better opportunity to make your case for being the Thorns’ starting defensive midfielder than putting in good work against Portland’s perennial tormentor.

Eckerstrom will again have her hands full as the Newcastle Jets host the dangerous looking Perth Glory, with Sam Kerr and current W-League top scorer Rachel Hill guaranteed to test her. Unfortunately, it won’t be televised.

Update [12/12, 1:40pm]

Someone in the know has been in touch with important information about why more W-League games aren’t available to watch.

Thanks for reaching out, Danielle. We certainly hope that the FFA can sort out the situation so more people can see their teams play.