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Knowing your enemy: The Portland Thorns from a Seattle Perspective

A guest post from Jacob Cristobal of Sounder at Heart.

Nikita Taparia

Editor’s note: we asked our friends at Sounder at Heart to break down how they see the Portland Thorns this season, in the spirit of the fun rivalry that the Reign/Thorns is. We did the same for them for the Seattle Reign. Check them out for their high quality coverage of the other NWSL team in the Pacific Northwest.

The NWSL Playoffs kick off this Saturday. In the 2 versus 3 semifinal match, you have Portland Thorns FC hosting Seattle Reign FC. Yeah yeah, the Seattle versus Portland rivalry is at it once again and for the FIRST TIME EVER, the two NWSL sides meet in the playoffs. Beyond the bragging rights jacked up to a multiplier of like FURTY THOUSAND TIMES on the line, a spot in the NWSL Championship next weekend is up for grabs.

Portland won last Friday to secure the 2-seed and earn the right to host the semifinal. Yes, Seattle got smoked in it and everyone wearing Rose City red was full of loud noises and happy feelings.

Big deal.

Sure, Portland won the regular season finale, but Seattle still took the season trilogy 2-1. And even that doesn’t matter. The ninety minutes that happens this Saturday at Providence Park is all that matters.

We know Seattle Reign FC are good, in fact, they’re dope. They’re a very good team, with some very good players folks know about. They returned to glory after picking up the league’s most accomplished coach in Vlatko Andonovski. Word is he does a very good Liam Neeson impression and said he’d only bust it out if Seattle wins the NWSL Championship.

And really, witnessing this impression is my only life goal.

Standing in the way of that are the Portland Thorns FC. Who exactly are they? Well let me perform a super serious break down of your beloved Portland Thorns FC.

Mark Parsons, Head Coach

He’s a good coach. I like him. He dresses like a mid-level James Bond villain. Not that it’s a bad thing. He pulls off the look and really, only a James Bond villain would do some chicanery like shaking a referee’s hand with a clump of dirt & grass in his hand after a match like a professional hater.

Nikita Taparia

Sometimes though, the fact that he dresses like a mid-level James Bond villain, I get distracted into thinking that his starting eleven formations are really code. Like if you decipher it, you unlock more clues as to where the doomsday device is. Unlocking the Mark Parsons code may not reveal you the exact location of it, but he’s high enough on the chain of command that you’ll get within the city limits of where it is.

Christine Sinclair, Captain

Has anyone not named Stephanie Yang ever said anything nice about her?

Sinclair is the heart and soul of the Portland Thorns and what she can do on the field is far from dispute unless you’re some stupid idiot that wants to be bulldozed by her. And I’m not about to type any banter about her because I prefer to keep my organs and limbs operational.

Meghan Klingenberg, Defender

Confession: I like Klingenberg. Her GRIT! and HUSTLE! has always been something I’ve been a fan of. That goal-line clearance she did at the World Cup was great and iconic. Know what was also an iconic moment for Klingenberg? This:


Tobin Heath, AND1 Sauce Artist

Somewhere in the vast land of stans, tears of gold are shed, crystal wings are acquired, a tumblr account is activated whenever Tobin Heath tries some AND1 sauce on the field. Her disregard of the situation within the match is second to none, hell it’s performance art. Attempt a rainbow flick at midfield only for it to go straight into a defender? Psh, big deal. Tobin would do it ten times out of ten, ten interceptions be damned. Then she’ll mow down someone and harp about being fouled. She’s still a lethal player who can score from out of nowhere. In summary, Tobin Heath is an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

I say many, many times over, I hope you have a proper recovery, Hayley Raso.

Ellie Carpenter, Defender

Up here in Seattle, we have Steph Catley. One of the best left backs in the world. Portland has one of her compatriots on the right back in Ellie Carpenter and she is going to be very good for years to come. Next year is the World Cup and Australia is going to have a deep run in that. I think Carpenter is going to have something to say about that run as I think she could be a breakout star in the tournament and for years be a pain in the ass for Seattle Reign FC. I’m gonna be sulking and muttering under my breath, “That damn Ellie Carpenter did it again… FURT.

Rose City Riveters, y’all are loud, incredible, very entertainingly online. Nothing but respect to you.

Katelyn Best, 2 Stuffed Fans Champion

Where were you on that day when she smoked Stephanie Yang in a taco-eating competition at Uno Mas on May 5, 2018? While *knocks on wood* I still have plenty of years ahead of me to fill with experiences, I can confidently say that being the master of ceremonies on that Saturday, is one of the peaks of my 34 young years of existing on this dear planet.

*Other peaks include winning an autographed Joey Cora baseball card in a raffle, discovering Levi’s 541 jeans, WNBA Semifinals Game 5: Phoenix Mercury vs. Seattle Storm, watching Kim Little smoke Portland

Tyler Nguyen, Red Smoke Radio co-host

This super-serious break down of your Portland Thorns exists because of this man. He came up with the idea to do this crossover event of previewing Saturday’s playoff semifinal. So here we are. Kudos to you Tyler, you mad genius.

That said, Katelyn and Tyler are by no means off the hook for not naming their Portland Thorns podcast, Thornlandia. Like isn’t that a violation of a couple international laws and thus they gotta answer for themselves at The Hague?

In closing, good luck to both teams. Go Seattle!