Save the date: Riley expects Morgan, Boquete, Van Hollebeke, Catley for June 7 vs. Flash

Jeff Kassouf May 19, 2014 177

Alex Morgan could make her 2014 debut on June 7 vs. the Flash. (Copyright Linehan Photo for The Equalizer)

Mark those calendars: Portland Thorns FC coach Paul Riley expects to have all hands on deck — including Alex Morgan — for the June 7 home match against the Western New York Flash.

Morgan has missed the entire NWSL season thus far with a stress reaction in her left ankle and last played a competitive match on Nov. 10, 2013, when she came on as a substitute for 22 minutes for the United States in a win over Brazil.

Her rehab has been very slow, but she’s gradually begun to train more and it now looks like she’ll be ready for the Thorns’ first game in June — their 10th overall — at the latest. She could suit up even sooner.

“You’ve got to figure June 7, which is Western New York at home — I know the date pretty well — that will be the game, the first that we’ll have everybody here other than Tobin (Heath). That will be the game that everyone should be available for. That will be the first time that we are fully loaded.” Riley said on Saturday.

Riley confirmed to The Equalizer that “everyone” includes a healthy Morgan and Rachel Van Hollebeke, who is also yet to play this season after spraining her left ankle in a game with the U.S. two days before the start of the NWSL season. Australian defender Stephanie Catley will be with the team by then and the much-anticipated return to the U.S. for 2011 WPS MVP Veronica Boquete could happen June 7.

Heath, who is finishing her season in France with PSG, won’t join the Thorns until after the United States’ two matches against France on June 14 and June 19.

Portland also needs forward Christine Sinclair to get going, and the influx of new talent could do that (though she and Morgan struggled to connect when playing off of each other in 2013). Sinclair hasn’t scored this season and her lack of confidence in front of net has been palpable.

Riley said Sinclair is aware of her struggles, but he thinks she’ll snap out of it and score “13 to 15″ goals in the last 18 games (which is…an ambitious number for anyone).

“She even said to me that, ‘I’ve never been in this kind of funk in front of net,’” Riley went on to say in the video. “We’ll get her out of it. It’s just a matter of one going in.”

  • Guest

    Great! Finally our starters are back, my eyes hurt watching the current rubbish Thorn.

  • dw

    I guess then it’s possible Alex will see minutes vs. France.

    • kernel_thai

      Well who knows how long it will be before Morgan regains her touch after such a long layoff..BUT…it does set up a very interesting scenario. As I expect to see Wambach – Leroux carrying most of the water against France it leaves the interesting pairing of Morgan & Press coming off the bench as the cavalry.

      • newsouth

        they’ve done press and morgan for 10-20 mins and they looked fine together. now, it would have to be a couple of games but the order, wam>morg/syd>pres>a-rod, is established. i’ll talk to you after ellis is gone because this could go well into the next cycle.

        • dw

          No TV for these matches, right? So no networks or TV sponsors calling/texting/emailing all the time trying to see if Alex will play, for how long, etc… In other words, less external pressure to bring Alex along quickly.

          • Lorehead

            The last match against Houston was on TV.

          • dw

            Sorry, talking about USWNT vs. France.

          • Lorehead

            Oh, excuse me.

  • riley’s mistaken

    I know Rley’s the coach and all, but we’ve been informed by the greatest obscure facts mind in the world that June 7th is not the correct date. Don’t know why Riley didn’t check with 49 first.

    • Steglitz49

      Well. What can I say? Should I be delighted? No. We are not amused..

      This year is irrelevant so I would rather that Alex thoroughly rehabbed and was ready for Canada next year.

      Let’s hope I have been wrong and that no damage will accrue. What profits it a young lady … — but in a tomato-can year?!

      • JAMES 18

        So how did you come up with the JULY 14th STEG?

        • Steglitz49

          Elementary. If you are going to be paranoid and see conspiracies behind every bush, you might as well go the whole hog.

          July 14th is the birthday of Crown-princess Victoria of Sweden. It is also France’s national day. More relevant, July 13th is the final of the men’s world cup.

          June 7th misses the day of the Swedish Flag, these day called its national day. It also is D-day +1. Is there still time to move this match by a day? oth, a lot of interesting stuff happened on June 7th as well, not least a couple of Supreme Court rulings.

          There is method in my madness.

          • JAMES 18

            A Historical madness is fine by me as long as there is a method to it.

          • AlexH

            See, now that’s a conspiracy theory! Any word on whether they will be mowing the grassy knoll that day?

      • curious

        Are you implying that the Thorns staff has not ascertained Morgan is ready to play? Are you saying she’s being forced/allowed to play too early?

        • Steglitz49

          She obviously will not be match fit in the common sense of the term. If all she does, is make a camro appearance, coming on in the last 10 min, then the crowd has a right to their money back. Worse, she could still be re-injured unless she has the same protection as a certain hockey player had.

          • Don B.

            If she scores in the last 10 minutes, and we both know that is a very real possibility, would you want your money back? I think not, unless you came only for the body paint, which is also a very real possibility considering your obsession with it.

          • Steglitz49

            I Just google Alex Morgan. It showed 5 pictures of her in body-paint and one in a bikini. Those who live by body-paint may not die by body-paint but it stay with them long after they took it off.

            If she scores in the last 10 min when everyone is exhausted …

          • Don B.

            And what exactly does that have to do with anything? She herself is very comfortable with the body paint and the bikinis. It doesn’t have a damn thing to do with her soccer, which is what we are talking about here.

            And if you feel you’d be ripped off if she came in the last 10 minutes and scored a game winner, even against an exhausted opponent, don’t buy a ticket.

          • Steglitz49

            You objected to the body-paint so I tried to keep you right about its importance and significance in the history of and today in women’s soccer, if not ladies’ football.

          • Don B.

            I didn’t object to the body paint, I have no problem whatsoever with it. I mentioned your obsession with bringing it up all the time.

    • Don B.

      Actually, June 7 may not be the date. The way Riley worded it, all the players named will be there by June 7, but he left it open that Morgan may be back before then.

  • MT

    I wonder how the lineup will shake out. Will Morgan or Van Hollebecke be match fit? I’m keen to see how Riley manages the subs as much as the starters.

    • Steglitz49

      What sort of question is “Will Morgan be match fit?”. What do you expect her to do? Prowl the touchline in body-paint?

      Either Alex is fit to play or she should not be there.

      • MT

        Cripes, S49, it’s standard soccer terminology and a standard
        question asked of anyone coming off extended down time from an injury, but thanks for the snark. I don’t expect anything–I simply wonder how long Morgan and VH can go full speed. 45 minutes? 60 minutes? 75 minutes? Full 90 minutes? Will they start or do they need to come in off the bench for the last 10 minutes?

        • you’re funny

          the bigger question is; what to players will be cut to make room for the new additions? i personally have no idea, i assumed sullivan and acevedo but a reporter covering the team posted that riley is high on sullivan and feels he can develop her.
          as far as subs go, riley just said recently that he likes shim as an attacking option off the bench, i wonder if he will stay true to that once the squad is at full strength

          • MT

            Very true. I would be shocked if it’s anyone other than Sullivan and Acevedo. How could any coach stick with one of them over Shim given the makeup of the roster, especially at forward?

          • you’re funny

            i would be very surprised if shim goes anywhere, paulson/the organization gave up to much to just give her away again. not to mention if she stays AM is likely happier and more likely to stick around.
            The reporter from rose city soccer press thought it would be acevedo and kerr to get the boot. if they are truly that high on sullivan i think farrlley should go before kerr.

        • curious

          Wouldn’t you have to know something about soccer to know the term?

          • Steglitz49

            As I responded to you separately, she obviously will not be match fit in the generally accepted sense of the term. If she only makes a camro appearance in the last 10 min, then the crowd has a right to their money back.

            Worse, 10 min is enough to be re-injured, unless she has the same protection as a certain hockey player had.

          • curious

            Since when did buying a ticket guarantee you’d see athlete y for x minutes? As for getting reinjured she ran that risk when she got out of bed. At some point if she’s going to play again she has to do just that-play. Did you answer my question re is she being rushed?

          • Steglitz49

            I would have preferred her to wait another couple of months, as I have made clear, but let’s hope her return to the pitch is a rip-roaring success.

          • you’re funny

            the thorns/timbers organization training staff seems to error on the side of cation when it comes to injuries. as i said above somewhere the timbers shut down one of their starters earlier in the season because of tightness and they wanted him to come back at full strength and not pick up any nagging injuries. i assume they would do that with the organizations highest profile player (men’s or women’s)

          • Don B.

            You can be sure that not only the Thorns, but the USWNT is monitoring every little thing to do with Morgan’s entry on the pitch. I imagine that every last molecule and cell in her ankle has been fully examined and clear for play.

          • you’re funny

            agreed. however, morgan’s injury was the result of a misdiagnosis from the USWNT staff. hopefully both training staffs will collaborate and make sure everything checks out. two sets of doctors checking is likely better than one.

          • Steglitz49

            Someone of Alex’s stature and income ought to be able to afford the best herself.

          • you’re funny

            very true, its also worth mentioning that the organization is very well linked with providence (stadium name and shirt sponsor for the thorns), which is a huge health provider on the west coast. i believe they treated lamarcus alderidge’s rare heart condition about 10 years ago and he is now one of the best players in the NBA

          • Lorehead

            Oh, that reminds me, there was a profile lately of the Providence Sports Medicine Center that both the Thorns and the Timbers use. It’s the white annex on the west side of the stadium itself.

          • Don B.

            How cool is that? You can get whacked in the head, get a brain scan, get cleared and be back on the field before halftime. :)

          • Lorehead

            It’s no Space Needle, but.

          • you’re funny

            i didn’t realize there was so much to that part of the stadium. i’ve seen that while attending games, but i figured it was for players only and not as well equipped as it says in the article.

          • Don B.

            I actually wasn’t surprised at the original misdiagnosis, since it’s an extremely rare injury, and presents as a normal sprain. It took an MRI after it wasn’t responding to normal therapy to find it. Since then, she’s had three MRIs that I’m aware of, and in today’s electronic medicine, those results are available instantaneously.

          • guest

            You’re an idiot you know that? AM was out for 7 months, of course they’re gonna bring her back slowly. If that means only playing 10 minutes her first game back, so be it. Do you really expect injured players to wait until they can go a full 90 before they play? When does that ever happen???

          • Steglitz49

            This is not any old player. This is soccer’s, at least US women’s soccer’s, answer to Messi and Zlatan rolled into one.

            Japan may have won the world cup and Miyama may have equaled Morgan with a goal and an assist and netted that all important first penalty, but in the good ol’ US of A, Alex is queen.

            I would cool my porridge and wait another month if necessary. Think the Eastern Front, not Normandy.

    • you’re funny

      according to the oregonian reporters morgan has been participating in full trainings and RVH has been doing ball work on the side

  • Paul Atkinson

    I remember what happened to last year’s Thorns when Heath arrived from France. That was a game changer and it was only a single player. I’m thrilled to see what this group can bring, though integrating that many new players at once into a side that’s gelling nicely will be a challenge for Coach Riley.

    I sincerely hope we’ve given Alex all the time she needs to heal properly. RVH worries me less because that’s a much simpler injury and she’s been out a lot less time.

    As for Vero and Catley…welcome aboard. I’m excited to see what you bring to the team!

    • Lorehead

      I’m not sure when Heath is leaving PSG, but the last league game is June 1, and the final of the Coupe de France on June 7.

      • Rdalford

        The article above says Heath is joining Thorns after the June (14 & 19) USWNT v France matches.

        • Lorehead

          Thank you; somehow I missed that.

  • Guess42

    Full squad pretty soon means cuts will have to be made…curious to see who they will cut.

    • get me boston on the line

      Given the strange personnel moves we’ve seen I’d try to trade someone away first. yes, clubs could just wait for the releases, but strange things happen in NWSL.

      • Calci0

        I feel for McDonald who has been a bright spot for the Thorns. Now not due to performance, she will be relegated to a sub role.

        • Lorehead

          Riley actually promised her that she can still play as long as she keeps getting goals.

          If Shim keeps getting sent in as a super sub with Heath, Boquete, Brooks and Long in the lineup, maybe she’ll stand for that, but if Riley still plays Sinead Farrelly over her, she’s going to be demanding a trade. What would Riley do, bench her?

          • Calci0

            Yeh, but playing and starting, are two different things. Unless the team goes to a 4-3-3 how does she still get to start?

          • Lorehead

            She doesn’t, obviously. I advise her to be grateful she got as much playing time as she has.

          • Calci0

            I’m not a Thorns fan, but is that really the train of thought for the leading scorer for the team. “Be grateful” with what you’ve got?!? That’s the thanks she receives? Without her performance thus far, the team would be in a big hole. Guess the tone just caught me off guard.

          • Lorehead

            Sorry. Thankful, maybe? That’s not the right word either, since it’s the result of another person’s serious injury. Happy with her fifteen minutes, so far, of fame?

          • Lorehead

            And, as a fan, I’m definitely grateful to her and to everyone else who held down the fort. Nevertheless, realistically, several of them are about to become backups.

          • Steglitz49

            Why have Portland acquired Veró? How about developing the local talent? No-one else is going to, are they?

          • Lorehead

            They held open tryouts. That’s how several of their players, including Shim and McDonald, joined them.

          • guest

            McDonald was a trade from Seattle.

          • Lorehead

            Excuse me, you are completely correct. I was thinking of Courtney Niemiec.

          • Don B.

            They have (or had) and international slot open, and they filled it. Do you really expect them to pass on one of the better midfielders in the world in order to make a ‘development’ slot? Not only that, but players had better be pretty well ‘developed’ before they get to the pro level, don’t you think?

          • guest

            They treated LeBlanc the same way. Thanks for everything you’ve done now get the heck out of here because we’re done with you.

          • Don B.

            I too felt bad when LeBlanc lost her spot, but acquiring one of the best goal keepers in the world and giving up the backup keeper for the Canadians was still a good move. Loyalty, while a good trait, has no place in professional sports if you want to keep your edge or improve. And keeping McDonald in a starting spot when you have one of the best forwards in the world available to fill that spot? No-brainer there.

          • Lorehead

            LeBlanc left because she could only beat out Erin McLeod on her national team if she played. Angerer was a great signing, and both LeBlanc and the Thorns handled the situation professionally.

          • guest

            But how good is Morgan going to be when she comes back? She’s been out for the better part of a year with an injury, her match fitness, touch, all of that are going to be off for a while until she gets back to full sharpness. It isn’t like Morgan is coming in at 100% pre-injury Morgan, she’s probably going to be rusty and it’s going to take time. I’d rather keep McDonald around and let someone else go because at least McDonald has managed to find the back of the net this season and as a forward that’s what she’s there to do.

          • Lorehead

            If they let a forward go, it will be Elisabeth Sullivan, who’s played all of one minute.

          • guest

            I just feel like everyone banking on Morgan coming back and fixing everything (Thorns and NT) are setting themselves up for disappointment. It’s going to take her a while to get back to where she was.

          • Elaine

            The first step is the most important step. But being cautious and pragmatic works too.

          • Don B.

            I don’t think anyone thinks she’s going to be 100% on day one, and I’m certainly not banking on her fixing everything. But even playing only part of a game can be devastating, as China, Italy, France, Japan and a few others can testify.

          • Steglitz49

            Japan won in the end but Canada lost.

          • Don B.

            Japan’s win in the WC had nothing to do with Morgan. She scored, assisted and drew a red, all as a sub. Without Morgan, it might not even have gone to shoot out.

          • Steglitz49

            That is correct. But it was not devastating because the Japanese came from behind twice to level the score.

            Iwashimizu’s red card showed how good Alex was.

            (Miyama’s yellow showed how committed and determined Japan was.)

          • Don B.

            I’ll give you ‘not devastating’ for that one.

          • Steglitz49

            It is interesting how we, quite appropriately, remember Alex’s goal, assist and the red card that prevented her from winning the game, while at the same time we do not often refer to Aya Miyama’s goal, assist and slotting away the first penalty plus her very own yellow card!

          • Lorehead

            The Thorns’ offense is having problems, yes, but if they win their next game, they’ll be exactly where I wanted them to be before the season began, in second place when their stars get back. Their only loss was to Seattle in the 89th minute. I just wasn’t counting on Seattle being perfect.

          • Steglitz49

            It seems that they don’t trust Tobin to repeat her performance of last year.

          • you’re funny

            i have a feeling it will be sullivan/acevedo/tarr in any combination let go. Maybe kerr is let go or traded for a future pick.

          • Lorehead

            I doubt it will be Acevedo, as she’s allocated, so probably Sullivan (who’s played only one minute) and Tarr (two starts, and a full 90′ in just one game). They should at least get a draft pick for any of those players.

          • you’re funny

            true, angerer and vero have to be demanding full salaries, maybe catley isn’t a max contract. but you make a good point in they need all the cap room they can get with their big name players likely taking up a lot of their cap space

          • Don B.

            I’d keep Tarr and let Moros go.

          • Steglitz49

            Is Moros on loan or is she a signing?

          • Don B.

            I assume she’s not on loan, but I don’t know. She has an excellent resume, but her onfield performance, especially in the last 20 minutes hasn’t been at all impressive.

          • Steglitz49

            At the time I thought it a strange signing, almost as if they wanted a Japanese player by proxy (Seattle got both Naho and Bev while Houston were unlucky that Aya Sameshima got injured, and I don’t know what happened with the 3rd Japanese player that came to the NWSL).

          • Rdalford

            Nanase Kiryu is the other Japanese player and she signed/plays for Sky Blue (they also hired Japanese coach to assist).

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. I don’t remember her being mentioned in dispatches. Has she played for SB yet?

          • Rdalford

            Per stats on NWSL site Nanase Kiryu has started/played 5 games with Sky Blue.

          • TsovLoj

            I’d definitely drop Kerr over Tarr.

          • Don B.

            I’m certainly not suggesting that Morgan take over for a full 90 if she isn’t ready, but when she is, McDonald just isn’t up to her level. McDonald may very well keep her starting spot until then, but at some point, McDonald is going to lose that starting spot, and the notion that a healthy, back to form Morgan should sit on the bench out of some sense of loyalty towards McDonald is just silly. She’s not going to lose her spot on the team (at least I don’t think so – Sullivan should go first), just her starter status, so the comparison to LeBlanc isn’t the same.

          • guest

            It’s more taking a player that’s in form out for a player that isn’t, not anything to do with loyalty. But you can interpret what I’m saying however you wish.

          • Don B.

            You must not have read what I said there, because I stated very plainly that McDonald may very well keep her starting spot until Morgan is in full form. The loyalty part wasn’t directed specifically to you, but to some earlier in this thread moaning that Morgan’s return means that McDonald will lose her spot at some point even though she’s scored a few goals.

          • you’re funny

            i’m not sure shim would demand a trade, all the articles seem to indicate that she loves living in portland and calls it home. i think she would be okay with a super sub role, as long as she starts when players are away for national team duty.
            the bigger issue at hand is that it seems riley doesn’t like her or prefers to play only his own players unless they are all world players. he said that she wasn’t fit and now he is claiming that she is fit enough. unless he has just been preparing her to play the super sub role the entire season i think he has mishandled the situation

          • Lorehead

            I don’t get why he rates Farrelly higher than Shim. In his latest interview, he made some comments about Shim’s “work ethic,” so apparently it has something to do with practices, which we haven’t seen, and not how they’ve played in games.

            Shim does love Portland, but she’s moved around the country a lot over the years. If she ever wants to make the national team, she has to play, so either Riley will fit her into his system or she’ll leave.

          • Guest

            And i recall an interview in which she said the nt is her goal. if paul riley/portland is not conducive to that, I would find someplace that is.

          • Lorehead

            The NT is everyone’s goal. It’s the prize that keeps them all playing for four-figure salaries.

        • Don B.

          McDonald seems to be a very good opportunist and has a few goals to show for it. Other than that, she really doesn’t bring anything to the game. She gives the ball up regularly, has no game away from the ball, doesn’t make good runs, and has no real soccer IQ. She needs to step her game up considerably if she wants to keep her starting spot.

          • Pia Knows Best

            Sinc is the one who should be benched based on performance thus far, not McD. Be fair.

          • Don B.

            Can’t say that I disagree with you, but we both know that isn’t going to happen.

        • Guest

          To be honest, once Morgan is fully fit and if Sinclair is still struggling to score than I wouldn’t mind sitting her for the hot hand(well foot)

        • Sydonia

          Cuellar scored 5 goals for KC last year, and then got traded. It happens.

        • Steglitz49

          She could try joining another club. After all, it is not as if itis some well hidden secret that all these players will be suiting up in June-July. With the success she has had, maybe the Emir will hire her or another rich club. Christen Press did more than alright out of her two teams.

        • Steglitz49

          She could try joining another club. After all, it is not as if itis some well hidden secret that all these players will be suiting up in June-July. With the success she has had, maybe the Emir will hire her or another rich club. Christen Press did more than alright out of her two teams.

      • Guess42

        I agree…I would try to trade to get a draft pick back, but it is a strange league indeed.

      • Lorehead

        It’d be nice if they could get something for their two players, but since the reason for waiving them is the roster cap, that could only be a pick, or maybe an international spot to stockpile for later.

        I wonder whether the Thorns are eventually going to start a reserve team.

  • basketcase chicken

    It all has to gel folks. Whole – sum of the parts and all that. Well as Thorns did last season wasn’t one of the consistent threads that they were out of synch, especially Morgan and Sinclair. Will expectation match actuality? Stay tuned or better yet attend!

    • Elaine

      Just throw them altogether for this one I say, just to see…..
      Angerer
      Marshall/RVH/Menges/Catley
      Brooks/Long/Vero/Shim
      Sinc/Alex

      • you’re funny

        this needs to be the lineup until heath arrives. i don’t mind kerr starting as long as shim gets at least 30 min to do her thing.

      • Calliegh99

        Heath instead of brooks an it’s gold! :)

        • Steglitz49

          You need a defensive midfielder who can come up and head goals at set pieces. Think Nilla Fischer. If you leave out Amber, who will do that for you?

          The modern game is returning to the time-honored Italian way of playing with a rock solid defense and very fast counter-attacks. In the NT, Alex, Syd and Horan could be the cavalry. For Portland, Christine may not have the speed any longer and it will take a couple of matches for Alex to get there.

        • 122

          Who do you expect to take the DM role if you take out brooks.
          I say take out long for Heath.

          • TsovLoj

            As much as I love Shim and think she should be getting more time right now, I think given those five she’d be the one not starting.

          • Lorehead

            Most of her minutes in that scenario are likely to come as a sub or when Tobin Heath gets called-up.

    • Don B.

      Unfortunately, we never really got a chance to see Morgan and Sinclair play with each other very often in their respective positions with CPC playing Sinclair in midfield. When they were both up top, we got to see them work together, and it produced. With Vero, and then Heath, coming in we should see the two together up top where they belong and begin to gel as a pair. They are both very unselfish when they get the chance.

      • Steglitz49

        Did not Alex, Sinc and Marta play together once upon a time? Marta and Miyama played together at LASol, where Marta scored the goals and Miyama provided the assists.

        • Rdalford

          In WPS league WNY Flash in 2011 included Marta, Sinclair and Morgan. Morgan and Sinclair played well for WNY (of course Marta frequently helps others play well). In 2010 the WPS team FC Gold Pride included Marta, Sinclair (and O’Hara) and both Marta and Sinclair had a good seasons.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. Was Abby playing for WNY in those days or was she into magic?

          • Lorehead

            The Washington Freedom, which became MagicJack.

  • xanthophobe

    I’m anxious to see how what lineup Paul Riley will throw together for the Thorns with his roster at full strength. An interesting dilemma that he will inevitably face is that Alex Morgan will take over Jessica McDonald’s spot up top…which means that out of the two players that have found the back of the net this season, only one of them will be on the field.

    From a WNT perspective, I’m so pumped about Morgan returning but from a NWSL perspective, I can’t wait for Vero to get here. She’s going to bring a lot to the league overall–I’m hoping (and expecting) for the Spaniards to be in the world cup next year and I think they’ll be a great addition to the field.

    • Elaine

      They are trying to get Sinc going. Hopefully she can score some this Wednesday.

      • xanthophobe

        I agree she’ll get going, I’m just surprised it’s taking this long.

        • Elaine

          She’ll be facing the Flash’s rookie GK, and she’s not Franch. As long as the Thorns can get Sinc the ball in good positons, she should be able to put one away.

          • Lorehead

            Angela Salem will be serving a suspension, too. Also, while I don’t know any of the players on the Flash personally, I’m not sure that blaming everybody but herself and Carli Lloyd for the team’s problems is going to inspire them as she expects.

          • Elaine

            That’s a big loss for them in the middle, missing Salem. And not a needed foul too to earn a 2nd yellow.

            As far as the comment, it all depends on what the coach said in that locker room . For all we know, he could be on the same page as her.

          • Lorehead

            Maybe the coach does, but I’m not sure how the players react. Losada in particular might feel she’s been playing better than Abby gave her credit for.

          • Elaine

            Team morale is very important. Remember last year with the Thorns, yet they pulled together for a common goal.

    • who knows best?

      A certain American player recently disagreed with you on the quality of Spanish players if I’m not mistaken.

      • xanthophobe

        I’m quite aware. I think Spain is a team on the rise (they’ve done well in qualifying so far on they have a 2013 Euro QF appearance under their belt)–if a certain someone doesn’t see it that way, I have no means of convincing her otherwise.

    • Lorehead

      He might start Morgan out playing less than 90′, or start subbing McDonald in for Sinclair if her slump continues.

    • guest

      Are we really wringing are hands over whether Jess McDonald loses playing minutes when you will have both Sinclair and Morgan back on the pitch together? I happy that Jess has improved this season and all but come on.. I think Morgan will help take some of the pressure of Sinclair and that will help get her going. It’s a no brainer.

      • guest

        ugh our not are.. Sorry

      • xanthophobe

        I’m not saying it’s a gut wrenching decision at all–just an interesting note that one of their two goal scorers is about to get taken off the field.

        • Steglitz49

          It is up to her and her agent to find a club that will let her start. Start searching today.

      • TsovLoj

        I think McDonald gets traded when the summer players roll in. Riley could get some seriously good draft picks for her while her stock is high like this.

  • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

    Heath is catching a ride home for free on the NT plane. Smart girl.

  • wosofan

    Will Riley actually break up his excellent center back duo, Menges and Marshall? I think he has to be pleased with what he’s got there.

    • Don B.

      I hope he doesn’t. Van Hollebeke has always given me anxiety attacks when she’s in there, for the NT or the Thorns. I remember in the championship game last year she cleared the ball backwards in front of goal, and if LeBlanc hadn’t been standing right there, it would have evened it at 1-1. Menges is still very green and has a lot to learn, but she’s been very solid so far.

    • MT

      Marshall and Menges have played exceptionally well together, as has Niemiec. Tough choices, but I think Riley will go with veterans, e.g. Sinclair over McDonald and RVH over Marshall. I’d guess Marshall will move out to RB over Niemiec, while Catley fills the LB spot. What a luxury to have the depth–such a change from last year.

      • Don B.

        I’ve been very impressed with how well Niemiec has played.

      • Lance Scallop

        Niemiec has been awesome so far this season.

    • Lorehead

      We’ll get to see them again when RVH gets a call-up.

      Actually, this team without any of its USWNT players is not half-bad.

      • Don B.

        I’d actually rather not see her get a call-up, to be honest.

        • Lorehead

          I don’t envy the Spirit if Dunn gets a call-up against France.

          • hell no they can’t go

            All the NWSL clubs should refuse to release players citing FIFA dates/rules. That would stir the pot. (Actually these may be FIFA dates I’m just envisioning the storm).

          • Rdalford

            Rather foolish to bite the hand that feeds you (pays the salaries).

            NWSL has been able to attract international/NT players partly because it has established record of releasing players for NT call ups.

          • TsovLoj

            I think it’s honestly a good opportunity to give other players time to shine. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a few games with the national teamers gone, especially if it’s happening to all the teams at once, as opposed to Tobin Heath frolicking in Europe by herself or whatever.

          • Steglitz49

            Your point is well atken. Seeing that a US 2nd XI or even 3rd XI would aquit itself well in a WC, it makes sense to give players an opportunity in their club teams.

            The larger question is whether the US could create some meaningful regional competition that can match the Euros for excitement and attendance.

            In short, probably as many young ladies play soccer in the US as in the whole of UEFA, yet the opportunites to compete for meaningful laurels is far more limited.

        • Don B.

          Let me clarify. Her not getting called up has nothing to do with the Thorns needing her, but the USWNT being much better off without her.

          • guest

            I think, in general, teams are better off without her. She’s a walking mistake waiting to happen, whether it’s a bad tackle or a stupid pass. For such a smart person she has a very low soccer IQ.

          • skybolt

            I tend to agree. I’m always holding my breath when she’s on the field in critical situations. She may be having a brilliant game, but at the most crucial moment she’ll attempt to punt the ball right into the path of an opposing attacker leading to an easy score. I really hate it when she gets to the ball as she’s backtracking and just turns and attempts to blast the ball down field not aware that an attacker is standing 2 feet behind her to block the clearance! She should just aim for the sidelines and live to fight another day.

  • Bohratom

    The NY Flash play in Portland this Wed, so it’s surprising to see they have to play them again in Portland in just 2 weeks.

    • Don B.

      Not really. The NWSL has a very screwed up way of scheduling games. Look at Chicago. In the month of May, they play Houston twice, SkyBlue twice and Boston twice, with the two Boston games three days apart.

  • Lorehead

    In other news, I wonder what’s going to happen at the stadium Wednesday now that marriage equality has just become the law in Oregon. As you know, one of the Thorns is married to our favorite player on the Flash, and mayhaps Mana Shim will be getting a proposal in the near future.

    • Lorehead

      Oh, wait, I didn’t realize this until she pointed it out: Wambach and Huffman married in Hawaii on October 6, but marriage equality was signed into law there on November 13. So they still have to formally tie the knot!

    • TsovLoj

      I’m fairly confident Mana Shim gets proposals on a regular basis.

      • Lorehead

        Sorry, girls, she’s taken.

  • BabyHorse

    Yayyyyy, ALEX, best player in the world coming back.

  • FDChief

    I’m fascinated to see if this works. It might be brilliant or it might completely implode.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a coach attempt to shoehorn this
    many players into a team in mid-season. Especially since this will
    mean that two somebodies will have to either go or sit for the rest of
    the season. I’m guessing that the top prospects for that would have to
    be Sullivan and Acevedo, given that Acevedo hasn’t played since April
    19th (and got a total of 15 minutes in the first two games before that)
    and Sullivan was the injury time sub in the loss to Seattle. Can’t see
    that as an emotional wrench but who knows? Team psyche is a bizarre and
    unpredictable thing; Jackie Acevedo may be the beloved mascot of the
    Thorns’ dressing room, for all we know…

    If it DOES work the team does look loaded.

    But let’s recall that we were supposed to be the “Death Star” last
    season what with all our big-name allocations and ended up backing into
    the playoffs fourth of four. Seattle looks positively Vaderesque, FCKC and WNYF
    appear to be rounding into form, freaking Chicago is two points up on
    us (but we have a game in hand) and even Washington looks decent this
    season.

    Right now I honestly don’t know what to think about this team. It
    has yet to turn in a commanding playoff-winning sort of performance
    against anyone, and a couple of Thorns matches have looked downright
    shaky. So I guess the Clif’s Notes version of this comment is…we’ll
    just have to keep rooting and see what happens…

  • O

    Only 150 comments on an ALEX MORGAN thread?

    • Don B.

      Probably because there is no easy way to bring Christen Press into it. :)

      • O

        ;)

      • Lorehead

        Okay: if Steglitz is right, and she won’t be back until July 15, Alex Morgan will miss her first two games against Christen Press. Discuss?

        • Don B.

          Please, Pandora. No.

  • Don B.

    Was going to mention this yesterday, but better late than never. Morgan was practicing shooting and played in an intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday, and scored a goal against Angerer. Progress seems to be good.

    • skybolt

      This is definitely good news. At this rate she may even suit up for the May 28th match against Boston and come in as a sub. Paul Riley did mention Memorial Day as a potential return date 2 months ago.

      • Lorehead

        She’s been suiting up for the matches and signing autographs all season. I’m sure the team won’t kill its golden goose (and that U.S. Soccer, which actually pays her salary, won’t let it). Also, Sky Blue and Boston really should be winnable with our current squad.

        • skybolt

          But it she’s completely healthy and 100% in shape (I’m just guessing on this one here) then she has to come back at some point. It’s probably a good idea to ease her back into the line-up as a sub against weaker opponents first before facing off against WNY or France. If she’s not quite ready then I agree that June 7th should be her return date.

          • Lorehead

            I have absolutely no idea how her rehab is going, and the team does, so I’m sure it won’t rush things. It doesn’t even need to. I agree that it is likely we’ll see her for limited minutes before we see her for 90′.

  • mae

    is there a rumor that tobin is being traded to sky blue

    • Lorehead

      If you have to ask?

    • Steglitz49

      Tobin is from Basking Ridge in NJ so it would make sense. Can’t say that I had noticed it if it was the case.

    • Lorehead

      But I doubt it, simply because Sky Blue has no single player that Portland would trade for her, and Portland’s roster is too big already. It doesn’t make sense for them.

      • http://www.twitter.com/originalslicey Slicey

        Unless they trade for a draft pick or two. One could assume SBFC will end up near the bottom of the table and be rewarded with a high round 1 draft pick.

        • Lorehead

          The Thorns want to beat Seattle this year. Tobin Heath for a future draft pick? If they want Morgan Brian that much, why not wait a year and then trade for her?

  • Don B.

    Update from Jamie Goldberg. She could play today, but Riley is holding off for the 7th. Some relevant quotes from Riley:

    “She’s been working unbelievably hard with the team. She’s been brilliant.”

    “Everyone thought she might be rusty, but she’s not rusty. She’s actually fresh.”

    Read the article here:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland-thorns/2014/05/portland_thorns_forward_alex_m_2.html