Analysis

Who is gone when?

Several folks have asked about the upcoming schedules and potential absences. I consolidated the schedule for every national team represented on the Thorns from July 1 to the end of the season. Optimistically, I am sticking by my preseason projection that Amandine Henry joins the Thorns for the July 2 home match and therefore that the France WNT schedule is relevant to the Thorns.

The bottom line is that the impact is not too bad. Here’s the calendar (empty dates not shown for brevity:

Date Thorns USWNT CANWNT FranceWNT Iceland Denmark
2-Jul SBFC
9-Jul FCKC South Africa (f)
16-Jul @Dash China (f)
23-Jul France (f) Canada (f)
30-Jul Reign
3-Aug OG Group OG Group OG Group
4-Aug OG Group OG Group OG Group
5-Aug OG Group OG Group OG Group
6-Aug OG Group OG Group OG Group
7-Aug OG Group OG Group OG Group
8-Aug OG Group OG Group OG Group
9-Aug OG Group OG Group OG Group
10-Aug OG Group OG Group OG Group
11-Aug OG Group OG Group OG Group
12-Aug OG Quarters OG Quarters OG Quarters
13-Aug OG Quarters OG Quarters OG Quarters
14-Aug OG Quarters OG Quarters OG Quarters
15-Aug OG Quarters OG Quarters OG Quarters
16-Aug OG Semis OG Semis OG Semis
17-Aug OG Semis OG Semis OG Semis
18-Aug OG Semis OG Semis OG Semis
19-Aug OG 3rd Place OG 3rd Place OG 3rd Place
20-Aug OG Final OG Final OG Final
21-Aug OG Closing OG Closing OG Closing
27-Aug @Reign
4-Sep Breakers
7-Sep Dash
11-Sep WNYF
15-Sep Moldova
16-Sep Slovenia
19-Sep Sweden
20-Sep Albania (f) Scotland
25-Sep @SBFC

As you can see, we have a conflict on July 9 when the US women play a pointless friendly against South Africa (my prediction is 8-0 USA). However it seems unlikely that there will more than a day or two of advance training for this match, which means the Thorns should be short only for the FCKC match. Expect the lineup for that date to be almost identical to the May 29th Seattle match.

Surprisingly, there are no further conflicts in the known published schedules except for France against China June 16. There are still two big unknowns which could screw us up: (1) pre-Olympics camps for USWNT, CANWNT, and FFFWNT; and (2) post-Olympics hoo-hah.

Even the shortest pre-Olympics camps will see us seriously shorthanded for the July 30th Reign match. The Thorns will be very depleted and it looks like a sure thing this will happen. For that match, we’ll be out the US players (probably five as Allie Long is looking like she’s finally made it and about time!), plus Sinclair and Henry.

It would take a long, expensive camp of 17 days in Brazil to cost us players for the July 16th Dash game. While possible, we can only hope it doesn’t happen. With that said, Houston has been pretty pathetic this year and their lineup would be similarly devastated, so we have a decent chance of taking the three points on the road regardless.

The final match in jeopardy is the last Reign meeting on August 27 in Seattle. With the Olympics ending a week earlier, there is plenty of time for all the Thorns to physically be in Portland. Whether they will want to play a competitive match that soon is an open question, especially if the US is in the gold medal game. In addition, even if our team is all back, it’s possible that one or two Thorns could have a breakout performance in Brazil. Remember Carly Lloyd after the World Cup? Perhaps a Thorn will be too busy making appearances on late-night TV and chatting with President Obama or Hollande to have time for an NWSL match. If so, I say “good for her!”.

Let’s assume that the US wins the gold medal match, which is less certain than in past tournaments. In 2015, the USWNT won the World Cup on July 5. The first Victory Tour date was August 16 in Pittsburgh – seven weeks later. Seven weeks post-Olympics is October 9 which is the same day as the NWSL Final in Houston.  I have to believe that even USSF is not so ignorant/arrogant as to schedule across the NWSL Final. Should France (or Canada) win the medal, we may be without one player for a match or two. Bottom line is that we should be fine post-Olympics unless USSF pulls off an amazing feat of high-speed organization.

In summary, it appears we’ll be down five or six key players for FCKC on July 9 and as many as seven for the Seattle away match on July 30. But that may be it. If I’ve missed something please comment below or hit me up on twitter @evrctid.

by Richard Hamje

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. kc

    This is my understanding:
    1. All the national team players will be playing in the June games. I’m not sure when Henry is reporting for duty, though. June is when we need to get all the wins, otherwise it may be too late to catch up on the points.
    2. All the US national team players will be out for the entire month of July at camp. It may be so for Canada and France too, although they may take less time off here.
    3. Assuming that the US make it to the Gold medal match, they’ll be back in time for the Sept games. I have a feeling they will miss the Aug 27th game as well. I hope not, because I really want to see a full strength Thorns team play Seattle.
    4. Now, let’s just hope really hard that there will not be any VT games until after the NWSL finals.
    Please feel free to school me if I have anything wrong. Cheers.

    1. Richard Hamje Author

      When we discuss the absences, we are all guessing about USWNT behavior. All we can go on is past experience. Fortunately, the team management has not changed since the WWC, so we can use that as a guideline.

      In 2015, Ellis announced two camps, one long residency camp in January and a second 3-week camp in May before the WWC. These announcements were made several months in advance.

      So far in 2016, there have been no announcements from USSF regarding Olympics camp. This leads to me to believe that the camp will be shorter than for WWC. In 2015 there had not been a tournament for more than two years, the roster was not well established and Ellis was relatively new to the job. 2016 is looking more stable and we just came off the WWC and victory tour. Brazil is an expensive place to take and house the team. It’s now June 8th – if there was to be an all-month July camp, surely they’d have said something by now.

      All these things lead me to think the camp will be relatively short. But even if it’s not, the only PTFC game at risk is July 16 in Houston as noted in the article.

      I certainly agree that the August 27 match should be full strength. Injuries and/or fatigue are potential issues.

      One encouraging detail: in the Japan friendlies the Fox announcers were regularly mentioning the players’ NWSL teams. This indicates a greater awareness of the interest in NWSL and perhaps Fox will be our ally to ensure that the NWSL season and playoff disruptions are kept to a minimum. This feels a bit like Kremlinology, but what else do we have to go on?

  2. fdchief218

    ISTM that the Bleues friendlies in July are worrisome for the team’s hopes for Henry. It’s not so much that she’ll be gone on matchday, but that she’ll miss so much training – and let’s assume that she arrives here sometime in the next two weeks, to be hopeful – that she’ll have to be some sort of soccer savant to fit in comfortable with the rest of the squad.

    The 7/9 US player losses are really irritating. First because as you point out the match itself is pointless; the USWNT learns nothing from walloping these tomato-can teams (as the first Japan friendly pointed out; a truly decent team will play you MUCH differently from these bottom-feeders just bunkering and trying to survive…) AND it’s a point we should nick, given FCKC’s problems to date. But without Tobin and Kling…AND Long AND possibly Horan or Sonnett or both? Ugh. We’re back to “defend-like-heroines-and-hope-for-the-home-draw” Seattle territory again.

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