Heath back with Thorns, ‘not trying to be superhero’

Jeff Kassouf July 3, 2014 17

Friday will bring the Fourth of July fireworks of the first Alex Morgan vs. Christen Press matchup in NWSL history when Portland Thorns FC host the Chicago Red Stars.

It could also mark the season debut of midfielder Tobin Heath, who is back from French club PSG (and almost two weeks off after the most recent U.S. national team camp).

“I’m not trying to be a superhero, I’m just trying to come in and help a little bit,” Heath told the Oregonian. “Obviously the results have been up and down. You’ve seen this team play tremendous soccer and then you’ve also seen a lull, so I think that I just want to come in and bring a good energy and a good spirit to the team.”

Portland is currently 6-6-2 (20 pts.) and in sixth place. Thorns coach Paul Riley is hopeful that Heath will bring a spark to his inconsistent team, and that she can combine with fellow playmaker Vero Boquete.

“They were brilliant today with each other in the practice,” Riley said. “They’re just footballers — pure footballers. Tobin is the most pure American footballer there is.”

  • guest

    lol good luck reviving that corpse.

    • Harry Truman

      I expect a very low scoring game, possibly 0-0. CHI can’t score, but has excellent defense. Portland has excellent defense, and also can’t score at home.

  • justsomeguy

    finally she arrived, will be exciting watching her and vero together, hope they click. we need to attach a cape to heath’s jersey

  • JL

    It kind of worked last year, as Portland looked a little better with Heath. We’ll have to wait and see if she has the same impact this season.

  • newsouth

    she’s no superhero. they are knotted with 3 teams at 20 points. either that group of all-stars wins some games or not. anyway, for press fans here’s another big game for her. chicago is completely outgunned on paper in this game.

    • Steglitz49

      Tell that to Portugal! (or Hungary if you want to go 60 years back.)

      Where is your optimism, NewSouth? Hope springs eternal and all that. Granted, your assessment that Chicago is more likely to lose than Portland, is the safe bet. Let’s trust Chicago can make a game of it. Soccer thrives on giant-killing.

      • romel dias

        except that i can take a safe bet that Dames will be defensive! i mean the Red Stars coach

  • kernel_thai

    I still wouldnt count Portland out of a playoff spot and as u saw last year, once u get ur foot in the door… While Seattle and KC have established themselves as the cream, the rest of the other contenders havent done any better than Portland at getting out of their own way.

  • guest

    If they’re so brilliant at practice why isn’t that something they can translate to the actual games? Is it the coaching? Is the players? Is it a combination of both? Their inconsistent play is beyond frustrating.

    • a thorny issue

      You raise an interesting point. Do Riley’s tactics, the attempted passes come off in practice b/c of weaker opposition? Are the Thorns struggling with the mental/emotional aspect of game environments? Clearly there is a disconnect here. Or practice outcomes are being misrepresented.

  • romel dias

    Riley really loves his practice!!

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  • NYRick

    Riley: “Tobin is the most pure American footballer there is.”

    Huh?

    First off, I like Tobin, I do. But to call her the most pure American footballer there is (I’m assuming from Riley this means in the women’s game) is pure lunacy. The “pure” American women football game has been for the better part of over two decades: big, strong, athletic, high endurance, some bully-girl mixed in. They will out muscle you, out run you, out jump you and rely on grit and will to outlast you in the end. Flair and skill are on the end of the spectrum for the American women footballer. Abby is the most pure American footballer there is, if the statement was phrased properly. Makes me really question Riley a whole lot as to his vision and knowledge of the sport.

    Skill and technical flair (Tobin’s game) is not pure American football. For me, Tobin is an enigma and someone who has never emerged into the player she should have become, for whatever reason. Her move to France for club soccer has minimized her position on the NT the past two years (which should have always been her first concern). In fact, less S49’s constant mention of her miraculous free kick, she has gone backwards, had injury problems and basically been pretty invisible. She is only a pure American footballer in the sense that she plays too aggressively and out of control at times (in fact, often). She can use a bit of zen or a better soccer IQ to her game because she has the rest of the package in place. Maybe having Vero around will affect her game in a positive way. Let the game come to her, and stop with the nonsensical trickery and taking on 2 or 3 defenders when it isn’t necessary. We all know about your mad skill set, now channel it properly and you may just get what the pure American footballer should be, or maybe will evolve into in the near future.

    • Steglitz49

      Hear hear! Verily and forsooth!
      (Do you want me to add a trollilollilol? A little OTT, I fear.)

  • nwslfan

    Will Tobin Heath move quickly off ball? A: No. that goes against the “smooth style” ethic.
    Does Tobin Heath hold the ball long enough to be double and triple teamed? A: yes, a lot.
    Can Tobin Heath make quick decisions? A: Yes, just often enough to make you think she MIGHT actually be effective.
    Is Tobin Heath juggling genius? A: yes, for sure- just like Yael Averbuch.