Quotes from coach Cindy Parlow-Cone, Tobin Heath, Christine Sinclair, coach Aaran Lines, Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach and Sarah Huffman
Portland Thorns FC vs. WNY Flash (0-0 draw/Aug. 10, 2013)
Portland player Tobin Heath:
(On the game) (beginning cut off) …didn’t have significant playoff implications. We both knew we were in the playoffs so I think it was kind of one of those game where both teams are trying to fix some things, work on some things, so I think that’s why the score line was what it was.
(On trying to host a playoff game) A chance to host is definitely important to us. With KC, I just heard that they lost which is pretty significant because now the top four teams in the playoffs are relatively close together. So this last game – who knew it was going to come down to the last to see who hosts, which is a pretty big deal? For our organization as well as everyone else’s, I think that’s something that would be special.
(On the standings being so close) It just shows how competitive each team is, each game is. The whole entire league I think from the top team to the bottom, every game is a game that can be won by either team, which makes it exciting, but I think as the league progresses and franchises become pretty solid, I think you’ll get that discrepancy between teams more as the league continues year in and year out, which we hope for. I think for a start, the players got allocated, so it just proves that the allocation process made it extremely competitive this season as well as the rookies who have stepped up and made significant impacts themselves.
(On the team’s chemistry and what they need to do going forward) It’s a tough league and I think we’re at the end of it, which it’s a lot of games for us. We’ve had a lot of games now on the road, a lot of quality opponents; we’ve had a couple rocky last couple of games so I think we’re pleased to pick up a point here. We’re really pleased with the shut out. That’s huge for us at this point, because we know that defense wins championships and that’s what we’re going for. We know we have goals in us because we’ve proven that throughout the season. Unfortunately, Alex Morgan went down for us last game. But we’re hopeful to have her back. So I think this is good for us. This is a good place for us. And I think the team overall, we have a good feeling now. I think we’re excited to have this week off and go not too far to Seattle and play a quality opponent there.
(On her own performance) I think I have to be more dangerous for my team and create opportunities. We were only playing with one up top with Sinc, so trying to push more forward and be a little but more attacking. But overall I need to do more for my team. And I have a few more games to help out.
Portland coach Cindy Parlow-Cone:
(On the result) I thought the first 20 minutes were a little bit rocky for us to say the least. I think there was a lot of contributing factors for that. One of them is (laughs), I thought it was really difficult to see. The sun was in our eyes the first 20 minutes. But after that I think we settled down and I thought we played well, especially defensively. In attack, we just missed the final pass – we either hit defenders or hit it too hard and it went out of bounds. But credit to Western New York, they’re a fantastic team. They did a great job, they’re great defensively. Abby and Carli in the attack are fantastic. I thought it was a hard fought battle between two very good team.
(On the team chemistry) I think you saw tonight the team chemistry is great. At times in the game, we played some very good soccer. We were moving the ball very well, pinging the ball around. And then defensively we were cohesive. We have been giving up goals of late, but it was great to get a shutout tonight. I thought our defense played outstanding. And I’m not just talking about the backline and the goalkeeper, I’m talking about all over the field. I thought defensively we were very solid.
(On the impact of not having Alex Morgan) Who? (laughs) Obviously Alex is a world-class player. To be missing her definitely impacts our team and the way we’re able to play. But I still think we played a good game, I thought we put a good game together and were very solid. A bit unlucky to not score early – we had that early chance, one-on-one with the goalkeeper and just put it wide. But I thought it was pretty good, even without Alex.
Portland player Christine Sinclair:
(Asked to describe offensive chances) Obviously, we had some longer shots. I think as a team, I think our focus in tonight’s game was defensively. In the past couple games, we’ve given up quite a few goals and it was our focus tonight to not do that and that was sort of our priority. We created some chances but I thought most of all we were just missing that final pass especially in the first half, where it was just being cut out or it was a little too hard. The preciseness of the last pass wasn’t there tonight.
(On missing Alex Morgan) Obviously she’s a tremendous player and any team is going to miss a player like that. But I thought we adapted well. Losing Alex you lose tremendous pace in behind but I thought as a team we did a better job tonight of combining than we have pretty much all season. And I think that’s a result of that long ball not being sort of an option.
(Asked about returning to Buffalo and the Western New York Flash) I loved it. I loved it. This is a top class organization. The fans here are incredible. Obviously, a lot of Canadians can come down and watch. It was a lot of fun being back.
(Asked about team chemistry and what they need to do going forward) I think tonight was actually a good step in the right direction for us. Even though we didn’t win, there was this fight as a team that I think sort of was missing the past couple games. We were battling for each other, defending as a team. I think, like I said, even though we didn’t win tonight, tonight we’re heading in the right direction. We’ve got one more game to try and iron a few more things out. Obviously, missing Alex, playing a little bit different of a formation it’s going to take some time. We’ve got one more game and a couple weeks of practice to get it all sorted out.
Flash player Abby Wambach:
(on the game) I thought our final ball was just off tonight. We couldn’t find services. We couldn’t find that one good touch just before we could get a decent shot. To be honest, we didn’t have very many great chances. Neither team did. For the soccer enthusiast, that’s kind of the perfect game — the battle of wills, who will flinch first. Portland’s a good team. They’re very good at what they do. They have special players that can make and change games. I thought we played average today, truth be told. It was pretty indicative of where we were over the last 11 days – four (games) out of 11 (days). A lot of us, Portland included, looked like we all kind of ran out of steam at the end. It’s a long season. I don’t know what Portland’s schedule like but I know we have two days off and hopefully we can get our legs back under us before Saturday and that’s going to be the most important game of the season.
(On how the team has played throughout the season) I think we’ve grown from the first game until now. And it may not be indicative based on certain results. But I think game by game we’ve gotten better each time. I’m really proud of where this team’s at, at this point. And Carli’s a big leader for us, she stepped up big for us in the second half of the year coming on late. And we need players to step up and make big plays. I’m happy that our last game is at home, playing to play at home. You can’t be put in a better situation as a competitor. That’s what you dream about at the end of the day, growing up ‘Bottom of the ninth, two outs left,’ that’s what Saturday’s game is going to be about. Hopefully I can bring that child-like mentally and stick some goals in for our team.
(On whether having four teams potentially tied is good for the league) Honestly, is it good for the league? I don’t know. I think that every team wants to be better than the next team. Parity from one team to the next, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because there will be a crowned champion, whether if it’s because of goal differential or something else. That’s what really matters to each individual in this league. Of course we want the league to survive and have longevity, but right now, right here, we have one goal in mind and that’s to raise the championship trophy at the end of the season. It doesn’t really matter where we all stand in the standings. We’re all clinched in the playoffs and those games are going to take a whole different life unto themselves.
Flash player Carli Lloyd:
(On the game) I don’t think it was our best game, obviously. I think on both ends the possession was – there was no real rhythm to any team’s attack. It’s tough. We’re getting toward the end of the season, this is our fourth game in 11 days. There’s no excuses. I’m not happy about the loss – the tie. It feels like a loss, to be honest. Luckily we’re in the playoffs. But we’re still competing for that second spot. We need to take care of business next game. But for me, it’s not good enough.
(On a missed chance in the second half) This game I had to sit back more because McCall was out. And I knew that, there was a wide open opportunity for me to get into the attack. Abby played a great ball and I’m obviously upset at myself for not finishing that. It was a really tough angle for me to hit. That was a chance that could’ve made the difference. But we regroup, we’ve got a week now before the next game. We’ll rest, we’ll recover, we’ll prep, and we’ll be ready.
Flash player Sarah Huffman:
(Thoughts on the game) I think you could see a bit of fatigue on both teams. I think we created the better of the chances as far as shots on goal. It wasn’t our night but I guess we’ll take the tie and move forward and hope to come out with a win on next Saturday. Enjoy a few days and get our legs back.
(On home field advantage) I think that home field advantage is huge. If we get a win then we have (the playoff semi) here and I think that that’s huge. There’s no denying that. But I think too if we go away, we’ve done well in moments too. For now we’re just going to focus on trying to get a result against Boston but there’s no denying that playing at home is huge for us. We have awesome fans. Were comfortable here and we have a good record.
(On preparing for Boston) They’re a good team but I think we’ve done well on the road there. I think that we can win and that’s our intention. We’re going to get a few days off and then go back to the drawing board next week and work on the things we need to keep the positive things going.
(On getting two days off from training) We had one other long stint. This was four games in 11 days and our field is massive. Even just one day (off) is huge and we haven’t had that because we’ve had to travel. So, it’s going to be awesome. We’re very much looking forward to that. I think that our attacking third was where we suffered today and I think a lot of that’s fatigued. Crosses aren’t going where they should and people are a little bit behind on their runs. But it’s nothing that a little rest can’t fix.
Flash coach Aaran Lines:
(On the result) Defended well I thought tonight. Didn’t give Sinclair much of anything. Denied them a lot. Possessed the ball a lot better in the second half I thought. Created some opportunities. I thought we just lacked a little bit of freshness in the final third tonight – that final pass or that final little bit. But not due to effort. I thought the ladies put on a terrific shift. The spirit within the group is phenomenal. They want to win every game and when they enter you can see that. So, everything to play for going into the last game of the season so it’s exciting.
(On home field advantage) Home field advantage is an advantage over your opponent. So, (laugh) that’s what we’ve been playing for. The ladies have been in an incredible amount of effort this season. Every team I’m sure has, but I can speak for my team – the spirit within the group is very positive and it’s a real team atmosphere within the group so I’m hoping that with a good performance against Boston (on Aug. 17) will give us what we want, which is a home playoff game.
(On when McCall Zerboni will return) Can’t comment on that right.
(Asked about how much their opponent and the fatigue of the schedule affected the Flash) The Thorns, I think it’s their fifth game in a short period. … I think you could see that both teams lacked a little bit of freshness out there, which is a little bit unfortunate for almost 8,000 people watching the game because there’s world-class players out there. So that might be something we’ll have to look at next year, just scheduling-wise. The players have everything they had out there. For us being the home team, it feels like we’ve should’ve got more out of the game, or could’ve got more out of the game. But I think that’ll just make us more hungry and focused coming into that last game of the season. We’ve got everything to play for, including first place. You never know. Football’s a crazy thing.
(Asked about whether the league has been a success) From where I stand, I think it’s been a successful first season. I think we’ve got eight very competitive teams. And it’s millimeters – I was speaking to Sinclair after the game, one of my former players – and every game is so tight. It’s millimeters from winning or taking a point and tying. It’s so close. There’s so many quality players and the league’s done a good job of dispersing players, it’s been relatively even. I think you look at certain clubs and I’ll comment on this more after the season, but you look at certain clubs and they perhaps haven’t received as much as others. You can take a look at who’s playing and who’s got what, yeah? But overall, very competitive from the different teams. It’s tough to get points. You saw that tonight.