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Thorns Abroad: CONCACAF W group stage finale, Euro matchday two recap

How did our Thorns do with their national teams?

Becky Sauerbrunn at El Volcán stadium
Becky Sauerbrunn at El Volcán stadium
U.S. Soccer

These were a decisive couple of days for our international Portland Thorns players, who played important games with their national teams. With the Concacaf W championship qualifiers going into the knockout rounds and the Euros in full swing, they had plenty to play for.

First up, the Concacaf games:

Canada vs. Costa Rica

It was the battle of the Thorns with Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie going against Rocky Rodriguez’ Costa Rica. With both teams already qualified for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, they played each other seeking to conquest group B.

Both had an equal amount of points (6), goals in favor (7), goals against (0), and goal difference (7). It was a good test for Amelia Valverde’s Costa Rica team, as she received a lot of criticism in the last two years. Nonetheless, these qualifiers have given fans reasons to believe in her again after getting one of the four tickets this tournament had for the two top teams of each group.

In the end, Canada won the game with a final score of 2-0, with Jess Fleming and Sophie Schmidt the goal scorers. Christine Sinclair was involved in the first goal after a long pass sent by Kailen Sheridan. After connecting with the ball, she passed it to Prince, who ended up assisting Fleming.

Sinclair got to play only one half and after 45 minutes on the field, the Canadian captain registered 18 passes, 77.8% passing accuracy (70.6% in the opponent’s half), 3 chances created, one duel, and one tackle. Beckie registered 16 passes, 81.3% passing accuracy (61.3% in the opponent’s half), two duels won, 6 successful crosses, two chances created, and was involved in the second goal, with a cross to the box.

Rocky Rodríguez was very busy in the midfield for Costa Rica, trying to stop the Canadians’ attack and trying to help her team to build from the back. She did a good job helping Costa Rica defend and after 90 minutes on the field, she won 8 duels, made two tackles, registered one clearance, and two interceptions. She couldn’t do much in the attack, although she had the chance to shoot at least one time on goal, and created one chance.

Rocky Rodríguez’s heatmap
Rocky’s heatmap

USWNT vs. Mexico

Group A had only one team at the top of the table and that was the USWNT. With their ticket to next year’s world cup already secured, they went to the match wanting to finish with another win. It wasn’t going to be easy because Mexico needed to obtain three points if they wanted to have the chance to go to the playoffs to fight for their ticket to Australia/New Zealand 2023.

El Tri’s best team was on the field on Tuesday night and they were very disciplined when defending, which made USA's efforts to score fruitless for 89 minutes. Mexico put a low block on the field, and they didn’t make it easy for the opponents to break the deadlock.

Things changed in the second half when Mexico started to give more space to the United States, and then had to defend with ten when Lizbeth Ovalle was shoqn a red card for a terrible foul on Rose Lavelle at the 73rd minute. But it wasn’t until the 89th minute when the former Portland Thorns player Emily Sonnett put Mexican goalkeeper Itzel González in trouble with a shot on goal and the rebound gave Kristie Mewis the chance to put in the goal and make the scoreline 1-0.

It was a lackluster win, and even Sophia Smith didn’t have her best night, registering “only” three shots: one on goal, one blocked, and one off target in 63 minutes on the field.

Becky Sauerbrunn went a full 90 minutes and registered 79 passes with 93.7% of accuracy (93.5% of accuracy in the opponent’s half), won all her duels (7 total, 3 aerial), made one tackle and one clearance, and even created one chance.

The USWNT will face Costa Rica in the semifinals. It will be the battle of the Thorns again, and this is what Sauerbrunn said about it:

And do not forget that one more Thorn will be available for that semifinal for the USWNT. We’re talking about Sam Coffey, who was called in after Ashely Hatch got injured in Monterrey.

With the Concacaf knockout rounds set to begin tonight, let’s turn our attention across the pond to the European Championships:

Finland vs. Denmark

Natalia Kuikka’s Helmarit were back in action this Tuesday after a defeat in their debut at the Women’s EURO 2022. The defender was back in the starting lineup after recovering from a bacterial infection.

Natu was vital for Finland’s defense making one tackle and 13 clearances (two more than the rest of the backline). She also won 7 duels (3 of them aerial) and registered 46 passes with an accuracy of 78.3% (78.6% in the opponent’s half).

Natalia Kuikka’s passes in the Finland vs Denmark game
Kuikka’s passes in the Finland vs Denmark game

Sadly, despite the defensive effort, the Scandinavians couldn’t get anything from that match when in the 72nd minute Pernille Harder scored the lone goal of the game.

So far, Finland are pointless and last in group B and will finish their participation at the EUROs playing against Germany on Saturday.

Who is going to play in the finals at the Concacaf W Championship? Will Finland be able to stand against one of the favorites in the European Championship? Let us know in the comments!

*All data is from Opta.