Last year, Portland entered into the last weekend of the routine season in a position to win the Shield and lost out by drawing Gotham. This previous weekend, Portland discovered themselves in the exact same precise position, the top of the table requiring 3 indicate liquidate the race for the Shield, however once again failed, being up to Angel City 5-1 in the Thorns greatest loss of the year.
“It was all around just poor,” Thorns midfielder and NWSL help leader Sam Coffey mentioned. “I think we lost our cool in two really key moments when they scored their first goal and then at halftime, the first goal after the half. Those are moments we need to be better. I think we’re all… disappointed doesn’t cut it, or it’s not even the right word. I think I’m in shock, like, I can’t believe that just happened. But we’re also a championship team and we need to take what we can and not allow this to deter what we still have in front of us. But yeah, it was disappointing. Doesn’t begin to explain it.”
“I didn’t think we started the game bad at all,” Thorns head coach Mike Norris stated after the match. “We lost the game in two five minutes spells… So yeah, tough one. It’s real tough at this point. It’s gonna hurt for a while, this, and then we’re gonna have to take the time to have a look at that and find, try and find a reason, and go towards that.”
Back in 2022, after decreasing 1-0 in the 39th minute, Portland would go onto rating 3 in action however eventually let Gotham connect the match in the 2nd half. Just a couple of hours later on, competing OL Reign would go on to handedly beat Orlando 3-0 to take the NWSL Shield, just one point ahead of the Thorns.
Most of the 2023 Thorns lineup keeps in mind that discomfort from ’22. “The part that kills me is that we did this last year,” mentioned Meghan Klingenberg. “You’re supposed to learn from moments that happen to you and to your team in big games. So that part to me is the most disappointing, is that we have been in tough matches and tough positions before and showed up and done big things. We just didn’t do that.”
Although the Thorns have actually been relatively explosive throughout the year, they have actually been impacted by an absence of protective consistency. Sam Coffey resolved this vulnerability, specifying, “we have been all over the place this year, and that’s unacceptable. We need to let [this] sting because we’re ballin’ and looking like a Championship team some days and then looking like we’re at the bottom of the table on other days. I think we’re our own worst enemy at times. We allow the momentum of other teams to affect us too much”
“We might have won the Shield video games back had we looked after that consistency previously in the season. So we’re paying the rate now – like 100%, we’re paying the rate for it. That needs to harm today. We need to gain from it. We have 2 more video games left and we require to be constant.
The Thorns have 21 days in between their loss to Angel City and their next match, thanks to a quarterfinal bye for completing 2nd along with a FIFA break.
“Maybe it’s a positive that we have a bit of time, but yeah, just thinking about the fact we’ve got a semifinal doesn’t really excite us right now,” stated Norris. “We’ll shift gears for sure. We need to, but we need a feel this. We need to learn from it and then we need to look at what that’s semifinal looks like and how do we tackle that and put on the Thorns to performance that we want to.”
Meghan Klingenberg discussed progressing, specifying that “the best thing that we could do now is honestly let go of it and move on and work on things that we want to get better at. But honestly, the thing that’s going to be most important is just letting it go and coming back to our practices and just getting after it. Because we’ve been putting in good practices, we’ve been putting in good minutes throughout the week. And so it’s surprising to me that that was the performance that happened.”
“The part that’s tough is we have FIFA dates, so we can’t really come together,” described Klingenberg. “I think the team needs to go away and be upset for a little bit because that’s okay. But then when we come back together, it’s getting after it and putting in the work in practice… just supporting each other, getting after it with each other.”
Last year, the Thorns rebounded after losing on the Shield to win the Championship in a dominant style. Only time will inform if they can duplicate their return this year.