Isn’t it always fun when Seattle Reign FC beat Portland Thorns FC? That’s exactly what happened in the nightcap of Saturday’s massive Seattle vs. Portland double-header. So let’s revisit the game with highlights, stats, and post-match quotes from Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski and players Jodie Taylor, Megan Rapinoe, and Allie Long.
Seattle Reign FC: 1 — Portland Thorns FC: 0
Referee: Christina Unkel
Venue: UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium
Seattle Reign FC: 1 (89’ — Jodie Taylor (assisted by Megan Rapinoe))
Portland Thorns FC: 0
Seattle Reign FC stats
Total passes: 459
Total shots: 18 (Rapinoe, 6)
Shots on goal: 9 (Yanez, 3)
Fouls: 12 (Nielsen, 3)
Corner kicks: 7
Saves: 0 (Williams)
Portland Thorns FC stats
Total passes: 321
Total shots: 10 (Crnogorčević & Raso, 3)
Shots on goal: 0
Fouls: 6 (Horan, 2)
Corner kicks: 0
Saves: 8 (Franch)
Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski
Overall thoughts on the game:
I thought it was a physical game, but I was very happy we performed first and foremost. The way we stepped up, our players knew that Portland were coming in here to hustle, run and try to be more physical. So we knew we had to be better than them in that and play the game that we’re good at – connect passes, find players in the gaps, find Pinoe, find Addo, and create opportunities which I think we were very good at today.
On the emotional release of Jodie Taylor’s match-winner:
Everyone felt relieved when the ball went in there, because once again we created enough opportunities to score one goal and if the ball didn’t go in, I guess there’s nothing we can do. I was very happy with our defensive performance, with our defensive organization and discipline. We knew what Portland was going to be dangerous on – long balls and restarts, and for the most part — not the whole time — the most part we did a good job. We just have to tighten up a little bit more because I felt they had two dangerous headers.
On players stepping up with Jess Fishlock’s absence due to injury:
The fact that Jess is not playing is not making it any easier for us. She’s an incredible player and we all can’t wait for her to come back. Especially against Portland, imagine having someone like Jess who has history playing against this team and she truly understands the rivalry. The players that came in I thought stepped in, did what they were supposed to on both sides of the game. I thought that Bev [Yanez] was incredible on the defensive side and found herself in dangerous situations moving forward. [Elizabeth] Addo was incredible in protecting and holding the ball and helped us break lines on the dribble and passes.
Additional thoughts on Elizabeth Addo’s performance:
She was very good. She was dangerous when the ball came near to her, she was able to protect us first and foremost and not lose the ball. She was able to eliminate the first press, the first defender, and opened up the game for us, which made us a little more dangerous.
On substitutions not coming until the 88th minute:
Throughout the game, we were thinking what it is that we can do to make it better, but I felt that with exception of three or four minutes in the second half when we lost momentum, we were on the front foot the whole time. We felt the goal was coming, so I’m just glad it did come.
Forward Jodie Taylor
Overall thoughts on the game:
Very good win. It’s always nice to beat a rival. I think we played really well, irrespective of the score. I was happy with the way we played. I think obviously the last couple of games haven’t really been at our best and I think today was a bit of a glimpse of what this group is capable of doing.
So yeah, I’m really happy with the performance and obviously really happy that we won the game and to score in the last few minutes as well.
On whether it felt like a weight was lifted off her shoulder after the goal:
Yeah, I mean a little bit. I think obviously as a forward you want to be scoring goals. The more games that come without goals you do sort of feel a little bit of pressure. I think I’m experienced enough now to know that that’s just the nature of it. At some moments everything you touch seems to go in; at other moments you could throw the kitchen sink and it’s not gonna go in. That’s just the nature of it.
I mean, it’s a nice feeling. Don’t get me wrong. It is nice to score and for us to win, but ultimately it’s about getting three points. So first and foremost I’m happy that we won the game, and secondly, yeah, it’s nice to score. But it’s always about trusting the process and doing the right things, and it’s about being in the place at the right time. That was the case with the goal today. It was really good ball from Pinoe, and she’s been whipping in some great balls. So it’s nice for the team to be rewarded for that as well.
On what she remembers around her goal:
Like I said, I think Pinoe’s been playing some good balls in the boxes. There was one early on in the game where she hit it first time. Brilliant ball and I didn’t make the run. So kicking myself for that, but I think for the rest of match it was like, “Right, I need to make sure I’m in the right place here just in case she does whizz it across goal.” It was just a brilliant ball. It came so quick and all I had to do was put my foot out.
It was a really good play by the team. I think we had some really good sequences today. Like I said, I’m really happy with the way that we played.
On being on both sides of the Portland/Seattle rivalry:
I remember ... obviously being with the Thorns ... and coming here is always a difficult place to come. I think for any time it’s difficult, and certainly for the Thorns-Reign rivalry it’s a difficult place to play. So I think that went in our favor today, obviously. But it’s gonna be ... It’s feisty. The Portland fans are fantastic, aren’t they? Like, the traveling fans. You know, you’ve gotta applaud for how loud they were on an away turf and away game. But equally our fans are great too, and they really help spurred the team on today.
Forward Megan Rapinoe
Overall thoughts on the game:
I mean, it’s just fucking great (audio version here). Obviously whenever you play Portland, we want to win. It means more than any other league game that we play. Being at home, we always want to protect that and put on a good show. So anytime you play that, you don’t have to get motivated for that. And then just kind of in the scope of the week – obviously not a good performance against North Carolina, we got smashed by them at home. Pretty cagey match away [at Utah Royals FC], I don’t think either team was really willing to come out and do anything, probably a little bit boring for people, but a point away was good. Then to finish off the three games in a week stint with not only a good win, but a good performance I think we played a lot better than we had in a number of games. Coming back home is huge for us.
On the result and overall performance being the response the team needed after 4-1 loss against North Carolina:
Definitely. This was a really big game for us just in a lot of ways. We hadn’t won in a while, gotten a few ties where we probably should have won, had at least chances to win. And we wanted to do better and play better. I think that was the most important is we played better tonight. I thought Bev was really good for us tonight. She always seemed to kind of pop up in the right spot and sort of occupy the right spot playing that ten role. I thought she was key for tonight. Obviously we’ll get a couple days off now and it’s nice to do that to win and to beat Portland. We needed those three points.
On matching up against Thorns defender Ellie Carpenter:
I felt good about it. I felt like I was able to get quite a bit of the ball. I thought we had good movement through the middle and Steph Catley and I played a lot better tonight, together than we have in the previous games. So I felt I was getting on it and being dangerous and being able to work the flank a little bit. Get a few shots in and ultimately set up Jodie for the goal, so yeah it was good.
On setting up the match-winning goal:
In the second half, I was able to get the ball quite a bit. They were just kind of allowing Steph to play the ball down the line so I was able to hold it against Ellie quite a bit and she let me face up quite a bit. They did a good job of bringing the other midfielder over in trying to stop me from going inside. I think I only came inside a couple times in the second half, maybe a couple times in the whole game. I took one little extra touch, knowing that she’s gonna try and block it, so I just tried to get a little bit more space and then put it in a dangerous place, and big goal from Jodie.
On the Seattle vs. Portland rivalry adding Memorial Stadium’s atmosphere:
It’s great. We love playing Portland for a million different reasons and their fans are quite famous around the NWSL, so they’re a huge part of that. They bring a great atmosphere and anytime they can travel as many as they do to watch their team play or to help with the atmosphere here, I think it brings more people here. It’s always fifteen, twenty thousand when they’re playing (at Providence Park), but to get a little bump for us was awesome. It’s just more fun for everyone when you have a good away section.
On Elizabeth Addo’s play:
I think she brings something totally different. I think really good in holdup play, she kind of settles it for us. She holds onto it a little bit too long sometimes – I’m like, ‘You beat the player, go!’ I think she brings something very different than a lot of players in this league. She’s very crafty on the ball, can get in and out of tight spaces and she’s very strong on the ball. In our buildup, she’s becoming an important for us player on that right side, being able to build up that side, and a little bit more direct on my side.
On looking at the rest of the schedule with the push for playoffs looming:
We keep a very close eye on the standings and who we’re playing against is really tight in that group, below North Carolina. All of these games matter so much, especially teams that are so close to us on the table. Ideally we would want to have a [semi-final] home game and ... go down to Portland for the final, but that’s something we pay attention a lot and make sure that we’re taking care of the points that matter the most. You never want to drop points, but obviously you know the people that can catch you are really close, you gotta pay attention to that.
Midfielder Allie Long
On Seattle’s defensive cohesion:
If we don’t get scored on we’re not gonna lose games. They played unbelievable ... and I think as team from the back line to the midfield to the forwards, I think everyone was really connected, and I just remember in the middle of the game just feeling like we totally had complete control.
We held them to zero shots on goal, which is unbelievable, and I think that that’s just something to build on. I think focusing on each game and not looking too far ahead and not worrying about where we are in the standings ... so if we play our game and we stay to the details and we do that then we’ll be okay. And I think that that will land us in a playoff spot regardless. But ... just taking each game at a time and not really paying too much attention to the standings, even though I know it is very, very tight with the points. Just gotta get the points when you can. Like, after having three games back-to-back, going to Utah and coming here and playing Portland and getting a win, that’s huge.
On Seattle’s response after losing to North Carolina:
We’re dealing with injuries and people missing games and having to fill those spots and trying to figure out what works best on the go is always tough. But I think this performance, regardless of the scoreline, was a huge step, and I think that it is the performance we needed to kind of just remind ourselves of how good we are and keep us on the path to the goals that we want as a team, and keep building in the process.
It’s a new team. It’s a lot of new players, a new coach, and tonight just felt like an overall excellent team win.
On being on the other end of the rivalry:
There’s nothing that compares to playing in Portland, but the atmosphere that the Reign fans brought tonight ... I didn’t even hear the Portland people. I felt their energy and I felt their vibe and I thought that they kind of helped us on when it was dipping a little or we thought that the momentum might switch. So I think it was amazing and I think that that’s exactly what we need.
This rivalry, it doesn’t get better than this. I love these games; I live for them. To win in the 87th, 88th minute was just unreal after a great team performance.
On Elizabeth Addo’s performance:
Addo is a great addition to our team and she brings something that no one else has on our team. She’s such a special player. She’s still learning how it is [in NWSL]. This league is so physical and so demanding and you can’t shut off for one second, especially a team that likes to just serve the box from pretty much as soon as they cross the half-field.
So I was just making sure that she knew where to be, her defensive responsibilities, and making sure that she understood that role, because it is a huge role and she’s kind of the first person up to put the pressure on, and if she goes then we can all go, but if she doesn’t go ... so I just was talking her through that and helping her explain that.
She’s a great player ... in the game I catch myself just watching her dribbling people and cutting them and then falling. She’s just so fun to watch and I think that she’ll be a big player. The more she gets used to this league and how physical it is and the demand that it has mentally and physically that she’ll just grow. I think that she played a great game tonight.
Yeah. Just gotta help her with the defensive responsibilities sometimes.
On adjusting in the midfield on a new team:
To be honest, there wasn’t one time that I ever felt uncomfortable. I felt that this team likes to play football and ... as a player, the way I enjoy soccer and I see the game is exactly how Seattle likes to play. They’re completing passes, they’re breaking lines, they’re beating pressure. And so coming into this team I felt almost at home right away. The players around me make it so easy. I truly feel at home and I feel that I could play my best soccer on this team with the players around me, with the coaching staff that we have. I think it’s the perfect set up for me. I feel as a player that I’m just gonna grow so much just being in this environment, training with these players every day. I’m truly grateful.
I don’t feel like there was an adjustment period. I feel like it kind of just seamlessly worked straight from preseason ... me personally. I don’t know, maybe you can ask Vlatko. He might say something different.
And in case you missed it or just want to re-live it, look at how elated assistant coach Sam Laity was at Jodie Taylor’s match-winning goal. Sam is all of us.