Analysis

Catfight in Seattle

Catfight in Seattle

by Richard Hamje

Have you ever watched two cats face off? Lots of posturing, hissing, back-arching as the opponents watchfully circle each other. A sudden flurry of claws and teeth that quickly settles back into attentive circling. Sometimes a little blood is drawn but most often the combatants simply walk away with no victor, returning to food and hearth. This basically describes Saturday’s action at Memorial Stadium between the Thorns and Reign.

The match featured dozens of throw-ins and dozens more turnovers. Neither team had a sequence of more than six completed passes. Seattle attacked 9 times in the first half to Portland’s 13. But it evened out in the second with Portland again having 13 attacks whilst the Reign created 17. Each scored one goal and went home with a point.

But statistics can be misleading; Portland had the edge in this match. Seattle had three real chances in the entire match: one goal and two good attempts, one of which was offside but not called. Meanwhile, the Thorns had four chances plus one that was wrongly called offside. And our chances were excellent, with Solo well beaten several times.

Portland were the more stuck-in team. The Thorns committed many fouls, but none dangerous. Seattle had two players go off injured; one by tripping over herself and stepping wrong (it looked like a pretty ugly hard-turf type injury on replay) and the other elbowed in the face by a teammate.

Defensively, the Thorns barely put a foot wrong all night. The Thorns had perhaps two errors in the back one of which indirectly led to the concession – Dagny’s chance to clear the second of three-in-a-row corners went back into the mix and then Horan could not control a second clearance chance, keeping the play alive in our box.  But truly these were not errors, simply difficult physical skills that were done well but not perfectly.

Dagny and Horna can't clearDagny and Horan fail to clear the second of three corners. The Reign scored on the third attempt.

The hosts were not so disciplined, conceding the goal on a “no, please, after you” sequence between center back and keeper.

Nadim beats Barnes SoloNadim jumps while Barnes and Solo exchange pleasantries.

The Thorns got behind Seattle’s back line twice – the Reign never managed the trick.

So now we curl on the hearth, awaiting the Spirit and a chance to go top of the league.

Thumbs up!

Nadia Nadim opened her account with an alert piece of play. Meg Morris sent a looping ball into the Seattle box. After a high bounce, Solo started to come claim then hesitated as her centerback made a move to jump for it. Nadim simply jumped between the two and nodded the ball over Solo and into the net. Well done! She also had a fine near-assist on an Allie Long shot off the crossbar.

Christine Sinclair returned to the pitch and made a noticeable impact. Two (half) of the team’s good chances came through her.

The two Emily’s were excellent in the back repelling one blue shirt after another all game. To their credit, Seattle never got in behind yet neither had to commit a foul worthy of a card.

Thumbs down!

Nadia Nadim wasted a truly gilt-edged chance in the first half as she got behind one-on-one with Solo and missed six feet wide left. The Thorns has 26 attacks in this match, only five of which went down our attacking right (Nadim’s side). And two of those five came through Sinclair. As has been the case all year, Nadim is too often where attacks go to die.

Tobin Heath, we can only feel this would have been a win had you been on the pitch. Thank you for standing by the Riveters, but please next time be on the other side of the railing. Meg Morris actually did a respectable job in replacement, not only getting the assist but generally being a hardwoman.

Hammered Rivets

Was it just me, or were the Riveters slightly off our game this trip? Seattle’s ban on drums (for us) was effective, as our chanting was not up to normal Providence Park standards. Without pacing, some of the chants were too fast. Gasp – there were even a few moments of complete quiet! Some creativity will be needed next time, assuming we cannot get Merritt to take up the cause.

Before the match, we were given a tour of the grounds by a confused Reign staff member. We did some of our best chanting as we wandered from gate to gate, eventually arriving back where we started and going inside.

Let us inAre you sure this is the right gate?

Aside from the drum ban and amusing walk, Memorial was very welcoming. We were in the south stand in the first rows immediately behind the Thorns bench. The bathrooms were clean and functional. There was a nice beer garden nearby. Like T2 games, the stadium offers re-entry privilege. A few years ago I vowed I’d never go there again, but now I’m looking forward to the next trip. They even gave us souvenir signs for our section!

Get this party startedLet’s get this party started! The blue tarped section upper right was where the Reign had put us on earlier trips. This was so much better, right behind our bench!

Speaking for the beer bus, the trip up and back was well-managed and uneventful. It was a bit less raucous than past trips but the keg blew before we reached Seattle and was replaced by vodka gummy bears, jello shots and baked goods. Nothing but smiles all around, even if many were a bit lopsided.

Arrived!The keg is gone, but nobody’s complaining because the beer garden is close by.

Richard Hamje

Hander-out of Riveters chant sheets, electric car enthusiast, fan of Thorns, Timbers, Chelsea and only lately, Leicester City.

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3 Comments

  1. fdchief218

    One thing I always find intriguing is how soccer can look completely different to different observers. I thought that the Thorns made some fairly awful defensive derps, particularly in the first half – I have a bar napkin from Bazi full of notes like “FFS, Kling, get rid of it!” and “WTF was that backpass? Em is marked!”.

    I do agree that we did better than Seattle; at least we didn’t have an “After you, Lauren! No, after you, Hope!” moment that allowed Yanez to bloop in a crap goal. Yanez’ header was a true joink; Allie actually had her well covered but the corner was that good.

    Point is; I thought we played just slightly better than our other-than-Orlando hot mess of miscommunication and stranded forwards. BUT WE GOT THE AWAY POINT…and that might be the crux of the biscuit this season. So far pretty much everybody – even Washington – has looked like crap at one point or another. The key to success this year may be being the Queens of Crap and pulling gold nuggets of points out of a steamin’ heap of misplayed passes and shifty defending. And we seem to have become the mistresses of that after only five matches.

    Washington here, tho? THAT’s gonna be a real test. We take all three from that one and I think we’re going to be well placed for the coming loss-of-the-internationals-Seattle-rematch…

    1. Richard Hamje Author

      Agreed. I think we did see the same match but perhaps my writing wasn’t as direct as it could be. My takeaway was that it was a sloppy affair in which we were just slightly better than them. No doubt there was plenty of goop, like that long retreat to the goal line, but ultimately we didn’t make a critical mistake and they did.

      As I re-read my post, I feel like I may have not given Meg Morris enough credit. Getting a kudo in the “Thumbs Down” section is an unintentionally backhanded compliment. I was greatly encouraged by her game, especially since we’ll be leaning on her in a few weeks.

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