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Meghan Klingenberg on the title match and why she plays

The Thorns defender spoke on the Talk Timbers podcast ahead of the NWSL 2022 Championship finals on Saturday 29th October.

Talk Timbers this week was all about Thorns FC and presenters Judah Newby and Jake Zivin invited Meghan Klingenberg to the show. Thoughtful, insightful and upbeat, Klingenberg talks about the Golazos, what home victory in the semifinals meant for the team and city, and how they are preparing for Saturday’s match for the NWSL Championship title.

We’ve transcribed her segment below, and you can listen to the full Talk Timbers episode here.

Judah Newby: What kind of emotions did you feel in that moment as Crystal [Dunn] shot at the back of the net?

Megan Klingenberg: Well actually [I felt] a bit surprised not because Crystal kicked the ball and it went in – I have full confidence in Crystal that she can get that shot every time. It’s just more like “holy s**t”. We had been pushing – I knew we were going to get one. But then when it happened, I thought, ‘Oh, I didn’t expect it to happen at that moment… And I don’t know if you’ve ever felt that before. But it’s like this lasting joy. It’s surprising joy. It’s that feeling where it’s completely unexpected. And you’re like, ‘Wow, that just feels so cool.’ That’s how it felt.

… How was it to win in this environment and like that?

Well, I have to say that our church in Portland really made it for us. They showed up and they were loud. They were so proud of the team. And they really had our backs that day. I’m really thankful that they could show up and give in that way… Because we did the same thing – we showed up and gave all of us. I could tell our fans did too.

It was honestly the most special environment I’ve ever played in Portland. And I mean, I played an Andover here so final. I’ve played here for seven years, I can’t even believe I’ve played here for seven years. But I played here for seven years, fantastic years. And that was by far the best Portland Thorns environment I’ve ever been a part of. And it rocked, and you could feel the energy was electric. And you could almost see the energy that it was, it was so intense.

The Thorns defender spoke on the Talk Timbers podcast ahead of the NWSL 2022 Championship finals on Saturday 29th October.

What does it say about your team that you managed to bounce back and finally really controlled the game, especially in the second half? And come back and win at the end?

This group is really something special. And the reason I’m saying that is because there aren’t many types of teams that are capable of controlling the pace of the game… and the dynamics of the game, and I think this team is capable of that is. I think we were unfortunately a bit nervous at the beginning. And those jitters played for San Diego on that goal. And once we settled down and started playing and started being ourselves and remembering who the hell we were – may I say that? i’m on the radio That’s not live, is it?

Good… Once we remembered who the heck we were, we took over the match and whenever we [are] that’s more than good enough for us. I think whenever we like to play we start to impose our style and will on the game and you saw that in the second half. As long as we remember these things going into the championship it’s going to be a really fun game for us.

…I don’t want to leave without mentioning Rocky [Rodriguez]’s goal, that was incredible. As a player, can you put that into perspective? The difficulty what she made of it from a technical point of view even getting to the point and giving the goalkeeper absolutely no chance?

Ah, totally. I mean, those goals – both in that game were world class. And most importantly, I mean, Rocky’s was probably even harder than Crystal’s. And that’s because Rocky’s a little bit a… [laughs] I’d say…bad touch on top of box. And so it jumps out at her. But if the ball bounces up, you can’t hit it… most likely it will overshoot. So you have to wait for it to come back down and then smash through and try to get it on the frame.

You actually see Rocky doing it – you see her watching and waiting for the ball to come back down so she can hit it properly. And I was on the corner and then I came in, I was stoned. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s great. Rocky can walk past me. I can’t wait for her to give me a little flip pass. And I can bring the cross in and we can try to get it.’

So I was a little mad when she shot it. And as soon as I saw it, I was like, ‘I can’t be mad anymore. It’s a nice shot.” ​​I don’t think people understand how difficult this type of technique is. And Rocky made it look easy… I ran and jumped right into her arms. She wasn’t ready to catch me, but I made her do it.

You mentioned winners in your first answer with Crystals – it’s one of those things that you think happened, but it also takes a little bit to process because it was just such a magical moment…

Yes, you know, unfortunately this group has been through a lot over the past year – not just this season but last season too. And I think when all the allegations came out about the club in 2021 it took a lot of emotional strain on our group in the dressing room. This emotional exhaustion turned into physical exhaustion. And I don’t think we showed our best performance in 2021 in the semifinals. And so this year, fortunately and unfortunately, our team has learned from it and we have chosen a different approach and course for the future. What we’ve been trying to do is make sure we put all those emotions on the back burner -[those are things] which we can definitely talk about and move on after the season.

So we were totally focused on this game and these games and having fun and doing our best and doing our best. I don’t know if it was as cathartic a moment for our group as it was for the city. Because we were so focused on this game that we didn’t have any expectations. The only expectation we had was to be ourselves and have fun. And I think when you go into a match with that attitude, there are no limits.

The whole reason it surprised us is because it was that overwhelming surprise of joy. “Wow, that’s so cool. That happened.’ I couldn’t have written it better. And I think sometimes when we’re writing things in our head, they don’t go according to plan, and that can be really disappointing. But if we don’t write anything in our head, then it can become so much more spectacular than we could have ever imagined. And I think that’s exactly what happened on Sunday.

We had a trainer, Rhian Wilkinson, on the show last week and she barely had a voice. She struggled with a serious illness. How is the coach’s voice now? And how is she? What are the coaching points this week before the title fight?

You know, Rhian loses her voice almost every game. But this, especially this, she liked to whisper in the crowd after the game. And it was pretty funny. But she is recovering. She’s her, you know, she dresses up to get that treatment and makes sure she gets on the list to get the treatment with the players. But well, she will be good. It’s all about recovery – making sure we put our minds and bodies back in good shape.

As I said, you’re going back to the NWSL championship on Saturday. You’ve played in several finals in your career: NWSL finals, World Cup finals… What do you take away from your previous championship game experiences to prepare for this one?

I’m really glad you asked this question. Because I think when I was younger I had a very different perspective than now. It [used to be] about winning at all costs because [title matches] are very few and far between. But now I think that perspective is a bit sad… If I only have this career to play for finals, it means my career only matters once or twice or three times or four times. Five times if we’re lucky.

I think what I did was really refocused and dug up and figured out what was important to me. [Finding out] What was my ‘why am I playing?’ I play for the love of it and the pursuit of mastery and connection with teammates. For me, it’s all about showing up and being there in that moment and enjoying every single minute that I’m there and fully present. All I’m doing this week is just soaking it all up, enjoying every moment, and reminding our teammates that this is all about having fun.

KC Current is Saturday’s opponent. They’ve played them twice this year – a crucial win here in Portland and a tie in Kansas City. So now you get a neutral side in DC. What do you know about KC and how do you prepare for Saturday’s opponent?

I actually think they’re a really interesting opponent. I’m sure a lot of people have been waiting for a Seattle-Thorns final. But I think KC will surprise everyone because they’re building something really special in Kansas City. You can see it in the way their owners build world-class facilities and put together a really good party. They have performed really well and it seems they have a good team culture.

So I’m pretty excited to match up with them because I think they’re going to bring it. And I hope they do their very best against us because that would be maximum fun. And that’s what we’re about.

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