Quote Sheet | Fishlock, Klingenberg and more preview Portland vs. Seattle
Portland vs. Seattle, Friday at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime
Round 3 of the 2018 Cascadia Rivalry will take place on Friday night on Lifetime. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)
Round 3 of the 2018 Cascadia Rivalry will take place on Friday night on Lifetime. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Portland Thorns FC and Seattle Reign FC meet on Friday at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime, with the No. 2 seed in the 2018 NWSL Playoffs on the line. On Wednesday, Lifetime’s broadcast team of Jenn Hildreth and Aly Wagner, Portland Thorns FC defender Meghan Klingenberg and coach Mark Parsons, and Seattle Reign FC midfielder Jess Fishlock and coach Vlatko Andonovski spoke with the media to preview the game.

Highlights from the conference call:


Jenn Hildreth

“It’s pretty easy to understand why this is a dream matchup for us as broadcasters. I think when we came out of the May 5th matchup out at Providence Park between Seattle and Portland and Aly and I looked at each other — it was just everything about that match was so electric. One of the best soccer matches that I have ever had the chance to call in terms of quality of play and the rivalry and the energy surrounding the match. Great crowd as always in Providence Park. And we looked down the schedule and we said, ‘These guys finish the season off against each other, back here in Portland. Man, if there’s any way we could make that happen, how great would that be?’ And credit to our entire production crew, and all of those at Lifetime, who when they looked at shuffling some things around at some point in the season, they thought that was a good idea too. So here we go. You’ve got a game that has everything. Some of the best players in the world, when you look at these two rosters. It means something with the winner getting the right to host, potentially, the other team that they’ll see again a week later in the semifinals. And for Portland, revenge. Seattle has gotten the best of them in fairly dramatic fashion with that 3-2 win back in May in Portland and then 1-0 with Jodie Taylor scoring in the 89th minute in June. It really has all the makings of a fantastic game, fantastic broadcast. And we’re certainly excited to be a part of it.”

On how the game will play out, as Seattle and Portland are likely to meet again in the semifinals a week later

“You almost have to look at it like a two game series and then it’s up to the individual coaches and how they approach that. … You’ve got two really savvy coaches here, Vlatko Andonovski and Mark Parsons and how they want to go about things. And I think you also have to consider, with the number of players they have for this match, coming off really short rest and that international break, I think that could affect how they try to do things. I do think that the match we see Friday night, could look pretty different from what we see a week later in the semifinal should these two teams meet again.”

On Portland’s home record this season (5-3-3)

“The times that they struggled [at home], they were struggling on the road as well early in season. So that just went with the way their entire progression of the season has gone. I think Portland — at full strength — at home — is absolutely so difficult to beat. And I just go back to that August 18th match against Chicago. They’re down two goals. Sam Kerr looks like she’s having the night of her life. And they come back from two down to draw. They even said after the match how much the crowd helped push them along. Whether how much that’s true or not — they certainly have the talent to do it — but I certainly think it is a massive home-field advantage. I think the opportunity to host throughout the playoffs is something that cannot be overlooked. I don’t think the bigness of the moment gets to these players because they play in it all the time. I do think it gets to a lot of the opponents.”


Aly Wagner

“The attacking, explosive nature of both these sides is something that is going to be a treat for everyone to see. … Of course you have to include North Carolina in this conversation — these are two of the best teams in terms of the product that they put out there and the way they can break down their opponents. If [Megan] Rapinoe is healthy and is a go and she’s sized up against Ellie Carpenter, that’s obviously a matchup that I want to watch. … Her comments after the U.S.-Australia match were fascinating about how — ‘Ellie Carpenter’s young. She’s naive. She just has to learn to defend me a little better. She’s a good player, but there’s a lot she has to learn as an inexperienced outside back.’ I think that’s a matchup that will be fascinating to watch if in fact Rapinoe’s out there. And then, of course, the center midfield is where a lot of it filters through for both these squads. I would say that’s not abnormal for any team, but those match-ups will be interesting to see who controls tempo, how they go about it. Playing at Providence Park, Seattle does have a decent record there. Who kind of goes for it early on? I know that the impetus is on Portland to control their own hopes and destiny, but it’ll be interesting to see how much they leave themselves exposed, because they’re facing a side that can strike on the break. So I think that those are a few of the areas that I will absolutely be keying in on.”

“I would be shocked if either side held something back. Obviously, the advantage of having home-field is massive. I think more so for Portland, being at Providence Park and what an incredible environment, atmosphere that is. But I also think the mental side of it, if in fact it is a rematch for them, as we anticipate. Then that semifinal day, you want the upper hand mentally. As a player, you don’t ever try to control or limit yourself and so I would be really shocked if there was any sort of gamesmanship in terms of not playing all your cards. Maybe there’s wrinkles in formations and systems that either coach has up their sleeve. But I doubt it. They’re pretty up front with how both these teams approach each match week in and week out. I think that mental edge is something that both are going to be striving for heading into that semifinal matchup.”

“Those are two very different players with Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath. Both are in incredible form. When you think of Lindsey Horan — I am shocked — or I’m amazed by the number of plays that she actually breaks up. Her work rate. The ground that she covers. And then her distribution. A lot of times it’s effortless. A lot of times when Jenn and I are calling the matches, I don’t even get to point it out and I want to celebrate it because it’s instrumental and really initiating a lot of the positive plays for Portland. I think she’s been a huge asset this year. Without Amandine Henry, she’s not only picked up that load to a certain extent, but I think she’s actually probably exceeded it. I know as absurd as it sounds because Henry is so good, I think they are almost in a better position without her and Horan running that show. And then of course you add in Tobin Heath. What we’ve seen out of her, I do comment on it all the time when we watch Portland play, but her freedom to pop up in different areas and her awareness of where to be and when has really grown over the last year. I think she used to isolate herself on the wing and the way that she comes across now, it just adds a new layer in the attack, so they have more depth, so it can allow for her to be higher, she can be underneath that seam and then obviously give them some more interior angles as well. I think her awareness as a senior player. You see it out of Rapinoe, you see it out of Heath. You almost don’t expect these older players to make such great strides in their games at this stage in their career and I’ve been incredibly impressed with just the nuances that both those players have added.”


Meghan Klingenberg, Portland Thorns FC

“I feel like there’s not many things to say when it comes to a Portland-Seattle matchup. It pretty much speaks for itself. It’s an incredible atmosphere. It’s heightened energy. It’s heightened nerves for everybody. When a home playoff spot’s on the line, it makes it even bigger. I’m very much looking forward to this game. I think our team is as well. We know that our fans are going to bring it, and Portland’s going to bring it, so we want to be able to bring it this weekend.”

On the season for the Thorns

“It was a slow start for us, but we also had a bunch of injuries, we had people coming in hurt, we had people coming in tired, we had people coming in out of form because they had been injured previously. It took us awhile to get our starting XI and our depth in a good spot where we are now. I think we’ve grown into the season. If you watch our team, as it’s gone on we’ve played better and better soccer. We’ve gotten more fit. We’ve gotten our players back. We’re potent off the bench. It’s an exciting time for us. We finally feel like we have all of our players in a good spot playing well, playing together, having enough games under our belt to be able to work off each other and know what each other are going to do. I feel like our team is in a good spot. We’ve really grown into it.”

“This team, it can be world class. We have the personnel and the personalities that want to work hard. These personalities are world class. When we put together a good game and we’re all fighting together and making sure that we’re all pulling in the same direction, I think that the sky’s the limit for this group. In every postseason I have played with the Thorns, going into the postseason we have played some of our best soccer. I just get super excited when crunch time comes around because the Thorns seem to thrive under pressure. Going into this last game, we want home-field advantage, and that’s pressure. Whenever the Thorns get put into that type of position, we really rise to the occasion. I hope that that’s the same way this Friday because when we play at our best I think we’re a pretty hard team to beat.”

On what it will take to beat Seattle

“Seattle’s a great team. They have a lot of world class personalities and they’ve done a really good job not allowing many chances or many goals this year. So credit to them, they’re a tough team to beat. They got the best of us at their place and put in a really good performance, but I just think that this is a different Thorns team than you’ve seen the rest of the year and I’m excited to have our international players back because they have a lot of flare and they add a lot of personality that we don’t have without them. Hopefully they don’t have our number this weekend, but I think they’ve done a good job before, kind of limiting our chances. Even if you look back to that Seattle game that we lost. The chances were there. We scored off a free kick that arguably was onside. We had two or three open chances in front of net that we didn’t put away, so that very much could’ve been a different game. I just think that we weren’t putting away our chances and they had a moment of absolute individual brilliance at the end of the game, where Pinoe picked out Taylor in front of net. It could’ve absolutely gone the other way, but it didn’t. This time we want to make sure that we capitalize on these opportunities and don’t give them anything in the back. Just be super tough and limit their shots, make sure their shots are from outside the box and just make it as hard as we can on them.”


Mark Parsons, Portland Thorns FC

“Both teams have had good years, good seasons. Both have gone through lots of change and have had a lot of players step up in both their rosters. Both teams have a lot of quality. Both teams work really hard and defend well. This is setting up to be a nice one.”

On Lindsey Horan’s season

“She’s one that really attacked the offseason on a physical level and building her body to an even more elite level. That has given her, not just the fitness, but more importantly the strength to continue to train well and play well throughout this season. What we said after the first 6-8 games. She brought a lot of consistency. She’s a really high performer. And last year, even go back to 16, when we were against the ropes against the Flash in the semifinal, it was Horan who scored to make it 4-3 in overtime. She would do that in the biggest games. She would come out somewhere. Like last year, she would do it more consistently, but still we wouldn’t see it every game. 17, she comes up with a massive goal in the championship. This year, I feel like it’s been every single week. She is showing this mentality and mindset to always affect and help the team impact the game. Her growth on a consistency level continues to improve. Her statistics and what she’s achieved in the league this year, I’ve said it already a number of times, it’s outrageous. There’s no single player that has a bigger impact across so many different areas defensively and offensively. Her assists, creating chances, final third passes, her goals, is such great numbers, and she’s a center mid. You could watch 10 minutes of the game and think that she’s a holding mid because she spends time building out the back for us. Next minute, you could watch 10 other minutes and say she’s a Number 9. What she does on a physical, mental and a technical, tactical level, is just really elite. It’s a really, really high level. She’s obviously crucial to our team and proving to be one of the best in the league. And it’s an exciting prospect that this young player has shown this growth in a couple of years, and she’s only just getting started.”

On preparation for the game

“We’re fighting for a home playoff  after the up and down, roller coaster season. We fought our way back into the situation. You’re always going to be playing a quality team, this stage of the season and going into playoffs. And we’re playing a really good team. A really quality team. I’ll sum up our preparation: just being focused. We are ultra-focused on what we need to do and how we need to do it. Understanding Seattle and what they bring and respecting that. … There’s one game on Friday. The way the group has prepared has been really inspiring because the focus has been, and has been for the last month — I hope that we’ve been a good focused group for the whole year, but there’s been a new focus the last month. Every single game. One game at a time. One training session at a time. We often find our best version of ourself when backs are against the wall, over the last couple of years, and here we are again. Huge respect to Seattle. Whoever was going to be coming to this stadium, this place is going to be packed. The atmosphere is going to be electric. And our team’s going to be focused. Of course, there might be a little extra electricity in the stadium because of it being Seattle. For us, it’s focus time and that’s about it. It’s time for us to perform our roles and jobs to the best ability and then we move on from there.”


Jess Fishlock, Seattle Reign FC

“It is an important match. Both teams want a home playoff. A home semifinal is going to give you a little bit of an advantage. There’s an international break, and that’s always a little bit annoying when you want to prepare for a game of such magnitude. But it is what it is and the situation is the same for both teams. I was just with the team just today and we get some players back [Thursday], the day before a game, which isn’t ideal, but it’s just life. It will be great. Playing against Portland in Portland is always a lot of fun. We know exactly what to expect and we’re just going to go down there and do our jobs to the best of our ability and hopefully bring home a semifinal. ”

On Wales not qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup

“I’m going to be completely honestly with you. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t necessarily want to see the sight of a football right now. That’s just me being honest. What I will say is I went into my club environment today and felt a whole lot better, really, really fast. That’s a credit to the girls that I’m with right now. They were so nice and so thoughtful today and within the hour that I was on the field today, I got my hunger back, you could say, to be here and remember why we’re here and what we’re doing and where we want to go. Yeah, look, it was heartbreaking. It is still heartbreaking. But I probably couldn’t be in a better group to make me feel a little bit better and to focus on me being in a good place for these next three games which are what we’ve been fighting for for the whole season. Heartbreaking, but great group of girls. They’re just fantastic.”

Playing at Providence Park

“I know the crowd is going to be the crowd that it is, which is great for the league and for the fans. So we know that it’s going to be a difficult place to go. It always is. So I don’t think that the games that we played this year or the wins that we’ve had against them really play into our mind. If anything it makes them even more pumped up for the game. And both games were — they were 3-2 and 1-nil. That’s the type of game this is going to be. It’s going to be a really close, one [goal], type of encounter. It’s going to be a really good game to watch and obviously we’re excited to play in it. ”

Favorite moments from the Seattle-Portland rivalry

“Hang on, let me get my list out. The game we won, when Kimmy [Kim Little] scored. 1-nil. That was a great goal. Was a great game, actually. The game that was 2-2, actually, was a great game. The one where I scored a goal and then I scored an own goal. That was a fun game to be a part of, too. Obviously, the 3-2 that we had this time around was an epic of just like, attack v. attack, goals v. goals. The 4-nil, I think it was, 5-nil, that we had against them at home. That was epic. That was brilliant. Basically, all the games we’ve won have always given us a really good memory. I think even the very first game we played in Portland, Year 1. I think we lost 2-1, but I scored in that game. It was really nice that game to just — it was really nice to hear the crowd be silent, when you score against them in that kind of environment because they’re really, really against you in those moments. Rivalry, is a fun topic, rivalry. It’s one that I think every league will want with two types of teams. It always brings up good memories, but it also brings up terrible memories, when they beat us. I obviously chose to remember the good ones when we’re going down there. I’m sure that any of their players will also remember the good ones that they’ve had against us, too. So there’s just a few.”



Vlatko Andonovski, Seattle Reign FC

“We’re very excited about having the chance to play a team like Portland in Portland. It’s one of the best venues in the league and it’s one of the best group of fans in the league. We know it’s going to be exciting. … That’s what this game is all about. And we’re looking forward to it.”

On being without Megan Rapinoe at times this season

“Not having Megan Rapinoe in some of the games … it was not easy for us. She’s one of the best players in the world. She’s a player that can change the game, with or without the ball. Just not having her on the field, mentally was not easy for us, but we figure out a way to deal with it. We have other experienced players. Jess Fishlock is there, who steps up. She’s a natural leader as well. Lu [Lauren] Barnes is a good leader for us. Allie Long was in the majority of games. It was not easy, but we had to figure out a way to deal with it. Going forward, the game on Friday, we still don’t know if Megan is going to be ready or not. We’re going to have the final testing [Thursday] and if there’s any pain or risk of her getting injured again, she’s not going to play because as important as the game is [Friday], the more important game is the one next weekend.”

On Seattle’s defense

“We made the playoffs and we’re very happy where we are at this point in the season. If there’s one that made the biggest difference for us, it was our mentality. I think that we played well, tactically. We prepared well physically, technically. But I think the most important thing is mentally … and one thing that was a key throughout the season for us was the mentality of trying to get better every day. Every day these players are coming to train with mentality. What can they do to improve themselves. If you take a look at the season, every one of the players that was on the team — whether they played one minute or one game or a whole season — they all improved. That was our main goal. Going forward, we’re excited about this game, but we also look at is as an opportunity to get better. What can we do to go to this game and be better when we leave the field?”


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