Skip to content

Healthy foot or not, Tobin Heath comes through for Thorns in NWSL Championship

Sep 1, 2013, 1:47 AM EDT

NWSL 2013:  Portland Thorns FC at Western New York Flash AUG 31 AP

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Tobin Heath didn’t train all week after having her right foot stomped on in last week’s semifinal.

Still, she insisted she’d be ready to play in Saturday’s National Women’s Soccer League Championship game.

And when game time came at Sahlen’s Stadium, she stepped right into the starting lineup for the Thorns. Forty minutes later she hit a knuckling free kick from 34 yards out for the game-winner in Portland Thorns FC’s 2-0 win over the Western New York Flash.

“I knew I’d have limited opportunities and as soon as I saw the free kick in that spot, I knew I wanted it. I was pretty confident when I stepped up,” Heath said.

Limited opportunity describes her season with the Thorns, to an extent. It didn’t start until July 14 after her return from French club Paris Saint-Germain, where she’ll return to immediately on Sunday.

Her presence helped calm and solidify a Thorns midfield that largely struggled through the first half of the season, even leading Alex Morgan to say in June that at times she “felt alone up top.”

But Heath was a catalyst in bringing together a disjointed Thorns side for the stretch-run of a season that varied greatly from the script many wrote for a flagship franchise expected to runaway with the title. Instead they finished third on a tiebreaker, going on the road to Kansas City and Rochester, N.Y. to win the title.

“When some type of adversity happens, our team comes together, even when more,” Heath said. “That’s just kind of been the end of our season, how it’s been. It’s given us hope and belief and I think you saw all that until the very end.”

Heath never revealed the diagnosis of her right foot injury, but said after Saturday’s game that the foot was “not even close to 80 percent.”

Saturday’s brutally physical – which saw five players carded, including Thorns defender Kathryn Williamson seeing two yellow cards in eight minutes for an ejection – wasn’t exactly conducive to Heath’s technical style. She may not have been the best Thorns player on the field, but one stellar moment was enough.

And her teammates had no doubt in her, either. Could anyone have imagined Heath’s hurt right foot hitting a free kick like that?

“I would have believed (it),” said Tina Ellertson – who joined the Thorns on roster freeze day on July 31. “She has an awesome right foot. She’s an amazing player.”

On Saturday, Heath’s free kick – along with Christine Sinclair’s stoppage time goal to ice the game – lifted Portland, who got contributions from lesser known names like Mana Shim and Danielle Foxhoven throughout earlier stretches of the season.

“Different people stepping up at different moments every time. I’m just so proud of them coming together as a team and playing with such an amount of heart,” Thorns coach Cindy Parlow Cone said.

Latest Posts
  1. Steve Nash — yes, that Steve Nash — registered with NPSL side New York Cosmos B

    Jul 6, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT

    Steve Nash

    The Cosmos B can afford to trot out Nash, considering they are 8-0-1 with a plus-34 goal differential under head coach Alecko Eskandarian.

  2. Official: Andrea Pirlo announces his arrival at New York City FC (video)

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT

    pirlo Getty Images

    Pirlo says an American arrival has been in the cards for a while.

  3. GLORY IN PHOTOS: Our favorite shots from the USWNT’s winning evening in Vancouver

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:51 AM EDT

    VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 05:  Julie Johnston #19 of United States of America celebrates after winning the  FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 final match between USA and Japan at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Plenty more flag-waving winners, emotional players, and post-World Cup couple smooches leap off the Women’s World Cup wire. Shall we look at a few?

  4. With legendary Wambach serving as super sub, the USWNT spun a team title tale

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT

    USA's head coach Jill Ells (R) celebrate their win over Japan with Abby Wambach after the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia on July 5, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The U.S. women are World Cup champions for the third time thanks to a full team effort that belied its star-first reputation.

  5. CONCACAF lays out reform plan post-scandal: “People are right to be skeptical”

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:23 AM EDT

    MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27:  FBI agents carry boxes from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images) Getty Images

    CONCACAF lawyer Sam Gandhi’s tone hits all the right conciliatory notes, something that FIFA has been unable to do it in its response under Sepp Blatter.

  6. Southampton, Atletico Madrid in legal battle over Alderweireld rights as Spurs, City wait

    Jul 6, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Aston Villa v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Despite the love heaped on Clyne and Ryan Bertrand last season, Alderweireld was perhaps only second to Jose Fonte in the Saints’ defensive performance pecking order.

  7. United States women overcame growing pains to peak when it mattered

    Jul 6, 2015, 3:06 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The U.S. women always said they would peak at the right moment, and they did exactly that.

  8. Set pieces prove to be Japan’s undoing in Women’s World Cup final loss

    Jul 6, 2015, 2:41 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Japan came out shockingly flat in the World Cup final, conceding four goals in 16 minutes.

  9. Carli Lloyd proves she’s the Women’s World Cup hero she always knew she would be

    Jul 6, 2015, 1:54 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Carli Lloyd said she wanted to be the best in the world. On Sunday, she proved it.

  10. PHOTOS: Celebration abundant on social media following U.S. World Cup win

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:31 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Take a look at the aftermath of the United States’ World Cup win over Japan.

  11. Mission accomplished: Abby Wambach gets her World Cup title

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:03 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Abby Wambach longed for a World Cup title for over a decade. On Sunday, she finally lifted the trophy.

  12. Nani relishing “new opportunity” with move to Turkish club Fenerbahce

    Jul 5, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT

    FBL-POR-LIGA-SPORTING-RIO AVE Getty Images

    Former Manchester United midfielder Nani is prepared for a fresh start in Turkey.

  13. United States wins third Women’s World Cup title, beats Japan on record-smashing day

    Jul 5, 2015, 8:51 PM EDT

    VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 05:  Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States celebrates scoring the opening goal against Japan in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Carli Lloyd’s hat trick and the United States’ win smashed just about every record in a huge win over Japan in the Women’s World Cup final.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip