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Highs and Lows: Portland Thorns 0-1 Angel City

The highs and lows of the Thorns’ one-goal loss to Angel City FC.

Portland Thorns FC v Angel City FC - 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup
Morgan Weaver
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

Hello STF folks, this is going to be my first non-gameday piece. All I could think of watching the game last night was how different the match felt and so I figured I’d break down the good and bad from the game to help me come to terms with the loss.

This is a hard game to look at highs and lows because it wasn’t a strong showing.

I’ll start with lows so that I can quite literally end on a high note:

  • Rocky Rodriguez (who is usually so solid) gave away the ball a few times and was quite reckless. Her foul from behind gave LA their PK and, in the end, the only goal of the night. She also committed a foul on Savannah McCaskill right outside of the box but nothing came from that opportunity.
  • For a while in the second half, the Thorns couldn’t get the ball out of their defensive third. Throughout the game, the team seemed very sluggish and there weren’t many efforts from either team on goal.
  • The Thorns didn’t convert the opportunities they had. From free kicks outside of the box to numerous corner kicks, Portland was unable to create concrete chances on goal.
  • Natalia Kuikka didn’t start. I mean this one’s self-explanatory but she adds a level of excitement to games and she made an impact in this one after coming on as a substitute so I feel she should have started. I’m thinking the coaching staff thought she could only play 20 minutes as opposed to 90, maybe COVID is still affecting her play.
  • Another low for me, and many other viewers, was watching former Thorn Simone Charley doing so well and constantly causing Portland issues.
  • The goal Vanessa Gilles scored, which was called back, showed Portland’s vulnerability defensively. She was left completely unmarked…
  • There was very little movement off the ball — no runs forward, no runs to get open, and little to nothing in the midfield when it came time to defend. Rodriguez it seemed was often alone and Olivia Moultrie and Yazmeen Ryan caught upfield and out of position.
  • Perhaps the most irritating low of all was the Thorns’ inability to just sit tight and at least grind out a draw. Portland only needed one point to move on and thus could’ve just bunkered in an attempt to get a 0-0 draw.

Highs, this is my favorite part of any game (for obvious reasons)

  • Bella Bixby had a brilliant 1v1 save against McCaskill to keep the Thorns “in the game” and she easily dealt with the shots from LA that made it to her. Also, a bonus was seeing her marking DiDi Haračić in the box on a late-game corner kick.
  • Megan Klingenberg’s goal-line save. Just a clinical clearance off the goal line. Overall, Kling had a pretty solid game.
  • Sinclair’s heel-flick was perhaps the only, and best chance, for the Thorns on the night and if it wasn’t for Haračić’s Save of the Week-level save it would have been an incredible goal.
  • Emily Menges put in a really solid performance at the back like she almost always does. At one point towards the end of the game, it was fun to see her body Charley off the ball. Menges was one of the only players that handled the threat that the former Thorns forward posed well.
  • Finally, Janine Beckie did well in her Thorns debut. She lead the team in shots (4), shots on target (2), completed passes into the final third (13), and dribbles completed. To put this in perspective, the Thorns had eight total shots and three on goal. While she did sky a good opportunity, she still played well.

Putting this “preseason” behind us, I am excited to see how the Thorns do, especially once Portland get Smith, Coffey, and Sugita back on the pitch as well as Wilkinson back as head coach.

The Thorns take on the Kansas City Current on April 30 at Providence Park as Portland start the long season ahead.