The defending NWSL champions, the Portland Thorns, open up their 2023 regular season at home against the Orlando Pride on Sunday afternoon. They held a Media Day for members of the press to attend and hear from the team days before they kick off their 2023 campaign.
Stumptown Footy’s Phuoc Nguyen (Fook Win) attended, and here are his takeaways from the press conferences with head coach Mike Norris, and star players Sophia Smith and Christine Sinclair.
- Sophia Smith was in training on Friday, and she looks to be ready for home opener.
- Reyna Reyes’ contract situation is still up for air. Head coach Mike Norris hopes she’ll be signed and available for Sunday’s home opener.
Mike Norris on whether Reyna Reyes will be signed and available for Sunday: “I hope so.” #BAONPDX— Ryan Clarke (@RyanTClarke) March 24, 2023
- Norris on leading his side in his first official game:
“This is nerve-racking, but it’s exciting as well. I think it’s pretty cool, I get to embrace that part... It’s going to be exciting. To be back in front of the home crowd again after the championship win. To feel that again is pretty cool and exciting, but at the same time we have to get on task for what’s coming for the season.”
- Keys to getting a win against Orlando in home opener:
“Start from the first whistle. If I look over at first three preseason games, I wouldn’t say we started poorly. We started fairly well, in terms of 2 of the 3 games, in the first 15 minutes. [We] will be looking for the kind of start. Just a performance over 90 minutes, not 45. The more minutes we can play over them, the better... Truly step onto the field from the first whistle, show up who we want to be.”
- On what to expect from Orlando: Norris wishes there were more tape on the new look Orlando Pride with Seb Hines at the helm. The Pride’s last loss in Portland was a 0-5 trouncing which was a turning point for them. However, he is expecting a hungry team to show up with nothing to lose.
- Norris shared that his playing philosophy is to utilize the width of the field more, but playing centrally when it is given.
- Natalia “Natu” Kuikka is a right back on this team. He does not envision her playing center back the way she does for the Finnish national team.
- Sinclair may be Smith’s number one fan. She speaks glowingly of her talent and the future she has in front of her.
- Sincy is a Portlander for life!
- Sophia Smith’s drive and motivation is second to none. She absolutely wants to achieve everything in her career and win everything.
- Smith’s attempt of getting Sincy to join their pottery painting class was unsuccessful.
- Crystal Dunn is a midfielder. Norris and Dunn had conversations regarding her fit and they believe this is where she is best. He expects her to be more of an attacking midfielder who can link to the wide players, break lines, and connect play.
- Hina Sugita projects as Portland’s starting right winger. Without Janine Beckie, Portland is playing shorthanded in the wings. An encouraging sign on that front is that second year player Natalie Beckman is now listed as a forward. Her ability to dribble and cross the ball make her a natural fit on the wing.
- Portland Thorns’ Best FIFA 23 video game player is... no one? Unfortunately, we don’t know who the greatest Thorns FIFA player is.
If you’d like to see Head Coach Mike Norris’ full presser: HERE!
First Media Day for Stumptown Footy’s Phuoc Nguyen (Fook Win)
It was the first media day for me and representing Stumptown Footy is a complete honor!
Will you be at the home opener on Sunday? Let us know in the comments!