Portland Thorns FC dominated Racing Louisville 3-0 on Saturday night. Granted, Racing Louisville is an expansion side and they had to deal with some travel difficulties leading up to the match. Regardless of the opponent and their form, Lindsey Horan put in one of the most dominant performances of the young NWSL regular-season.
People often become desensitized to a player’s greatness. The player performs at such a high level day in and day out that when they are not at their world-beating best we tend to be overly critical because we expect them to be unplayable. We often fail to properly recognize a player’s dominant performance because it is expected or because of the opposition.
That is why it is so important to highlight Horan’s performance against Racing Louisville. Yes, it is what we have come to expect from the player dubbed ‘The Great Horan’, but there aren’t many players in the world that can impact a match on both sides of the ball like Horan.
Horan was integral to the Thorns’ success on both defensively and offensively. She recovered possession 11 times and did so all over the pitch and completed her three attempted tackles. Horan also made two interceptions and one clearance, the clearance and one interception coming in the 18-yard box.
Horan was the most involved player in the match by far. She had 105 touches, 18 more than the next closest player, and attempted 80 passes (78.8%), 17 more than the next closest player. Just look at her distribution map. Horan plays as the left-sided No. 8, but helps facilitate build-up by dropping deep and receiving from the center backs. She was also the Thorns' main way forward.
Horan’s ability on the ball and spatial awareness allowed her to avoid pressure with good touches and recognition of where there was space to play into. She is very patient on the ball and can use her individual quality to open up passing lanes that move the team forward rather than making the predictable passing option and she has the passing range to execute these passes.
Despite dropping deep and facilitating possession, Horan was a threat in the center of the park and down the left channel. She was able to drive into space and either attract defenders and find the Thorns’ open player or take players on and create enough space to fire a shot. Horan had a game-high 10 shots, four of which were on target, and added a goal and an assist.
Lindsey Horan’s impact on the way the Portland Thorns play is almost impossible to quantify because she does almost everything at an elite level. She presses well, is crucial defensively whether repelling crosses or closing down players, and makes the Thorns tick in all stages of possession and build-up. Here’s a video breaking down just how dominant Horan was.
Statistic retrieved from nwslsoccer.com.