If I had to put money on who would score the Pride’s 100th goal, Toni Pressley — for a multitude of reasons — wouldn’t have been near the top of my list. But considering how this season has played out so far, was it really a surprise to anyone at this point?
Then, after losing the lead and allowing three goals, Haley Kopmeyer shut down a penalty kick in the 66th minute, and like that, the crowd and the team were back in it. It felt like at any moment the Pride would close the scoreline and perhaps salvage a point. Portland felt it too, and immediately sprinkled in as much time wasting as they could.
The comeback never came, of course, and the game ended with a thematically timed thunderstorm and a 3-1 loss to Portland. And believe it or not, I saw quite a few positives, and for me, this was the first time I saw an exciting match from the Pride in 2019. Time to break it down and give you my perspective.
GK, Haley Kopmeyer, 6 — Portland had five shots on goal, and Kopmeyer stopped two of them with the previously mentioned double save off the penalty, which earned a Save of the Week nomination. Taking a look back at the other three shots, her momentum was taking her away from the near post and she couldn’t get a proper hand on it, leading to the rebound goal. Next, the free kick from Andressinha was a thing of beauty, and an unmarked Caitlin Foord sent a rocket in to cap it off, that Kopmeyer could have perhaps reacted better to. Her distribution was solid, specifically in the second half when she only had three incomplete passes.
D, Erin Greening, 5 — I thought Greening had a rough first half offensively. Greening had a lot of passes forward into empty space. It was like she didn’t want to ever possess the ball. So the moment she got it, it had to go somewhere else, no matter what. The second half was a bit better in that regard. A decent night defensively, some good stops here and there, but like the rest of the line, they have plenty of work to do on communication.
D, Morgan Reid, 5.5 — Reid’s first professional appearance was pretty solid. I’ll echo the work that needs to be done on communication here, but Reid was pretty solid in distributing the ball with 71.4%, putting her third-best on the Pride. Reid also ended with three clearances and an important tackle in the box late in the game.
D, Toni Pressley, 6 (PotM) — Pressley last played Aug. 11, 2018. In her 2019 debut, she not only ended a frustrating goal drought by scoring her third NWSL goal, but also added six clearances, two interceptions, and a couple of blocks to her totals. The only downsides were that speedy Portland was given a lot of space on the right, and Pressley just couldn’t match the Thorns’ speed, which was partly responsible for the penalty she conceded. Also, I would like to see her use the midfield a bit more if her long balls are going to keep going to no one. Even without the goal, I imagine Pressley would have been a contender for Player of the Match. With it, she’s a lock.
D, Carson Pickett, 5.5 — It’s hard to believe that Pickett’s assist was her first for the Pride, but it finally came off an early corner. Her passing was at a 65.4%, with a lot of the misses coming from crosses into the box that never found a target. Short of that, I thought Pickett’s work on the side was pretty good, but those threats from Portland were a bit too frequent, and that had to do a bit with how far forward she would get.
MF, Joanna Boyles, 5.5 — A lot of activity from Boyles helped the young midfielder lead the team in touches, with 78. As she gets more settled, Boyles is showing her tenacity and passion, and adding to that were five tackles, a few clearances and a couple of interceptions to disrupt Portland. That passing though — 50% isn’t good enough.
MF, Emily van Egmond, 5 — I’ll admit, I always kind of struggle to find something to say about van Egmond. She can be great in those rare moments where we see actual link-up play, and her set pieces can always be promising, but in this match we didn’t get to see much of that. She had one of the better nights in passing at 67.4%, but even if it’s against Portland’s midfield, the team has to find a way to better connect.
MF, Dani Weatherholt, 5.5 — Weatherholt started to really find a groove in the second half before coming off with some strong efforts on the left side of the field. Before the match, I tried to goad her over Twitter to rip one outside the box to get the 100th goal in her 50th appearance, but she either didn’t see it, or didn’t take the bait. It is something I’ve been missing this season though — the occasional threat that she can pose from just outside the box. She had two goals last year, and it’s obvious the Pride need the help on offense wherever they can get it.
F, Chioma Ubogagu, 5 — It was a very low-key game from Chi Saturday night. Compared to her usual numbers, Ubogagu had about half the touches she normally has and didn’t even take a shot. She started off 2018 with four goals, primarily while the internationals were out, and the Pride will definitely need that back as they make the transition again this year.
F, Marta, 6 — My impression of Marta in this match was primarily that she needed more determination in all phases. Offensively, she fought to get the ball into the box as often as possible, including taking six shots of her own — one of which was an incredible volley that is now on a Save of the Week highlight for Britt Eckerstrom. She fought to keep possession, often putting on a clinic in how to go 1-v-2. Perhaps she tried to force it a bit too much at times, as her passing was pretty low for her at 59.6%. But the team knows that all things will flow through Marta, and several players need to be ready and provide an outlet when she needs them.
F, Rachel Hill, 6 — This was Hill’s best effort yet in 2019. She left everything on the field Saturday night, and it’s a shame she wasn’t able to produce anything. She had the most chances created at three, four tackles (one of which made the crowd around me gasp), and three fouls, which to me was a good thing. That includes the foul that led to Portland’s second goal. Her only misstep there was maybe not fouling a bit sooner.
MF, Camila (59’), 5.5 — It was another solid night as a sub for Camila. She completed nine of 11 passes for an 81.8% rate. I feel like her rhythm is close to what we love seeing, and I’d like to see her start again, so we can see her settled into a game.
MF, Abby Elinsky (78’), 5 — With the little time we got to see Elinsky, one thing that I noticed was her ability to quickly take direction from teammates, specifically Marta. On top of what I already like about her, that malleability will be of benefit moving forward.
There you have it. No second watch for me on this one, as the Yahoo! stream was a hot pile of garbage, so any other impressions of the match from all of you are definitely appreciated. I’m going to use the storm that ended the match as an omen — a good omen that the winds of change are coming, and we’re about to see some thunder and lightning.
Now vote for your player of the match!
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