Two goals, a smile and a press conference: On a memorable night for Portland Thorns midfielder Hina Sugita
A moment from behind the scenes of Portland's 3-2 win on Sunday.
I covered the Portland Thorns game for The Oregonian on Sunday. The Thorns won 3-2 in a game that really didn’t matter much — it’s technically the preseason in the NWSL, though Sunday’s win over Alex Morgan and San Diego did position the Thorns well in the non-league Challenger’s Cup standings.
But with Providence Park half filled, the city’s priorities were certainly elsewhere on a dry Easter Sunday. Still, a nice moment from behind the scenes:
Before the final whistle, Portland communications coordinator Jill Farley took names for postgame interviews. Longtime AP writer Anne Peterson asked for Hina Sugita, who scored the first two goals of her NWSL career with a smile that beamed across the replay screens.
Farley said she would check, but not to hold out much hope. Sugita hadn’t done a postgame press conference yet, and the 25-year-old who signed with Portland in January would have to use a translator.
She’s in her first year playing in the U.S. after a seven-year club career in her native Japan, and she showed up for the four-person press conference a little soft-spoken but confident in improving her game.
“Since I can’t quite talk to my teammates yet, I watch them and try and match them,” Sugita said through a translator. “And then I try and interpret it in my own head.”
She answered a few more questions about her two goals — her first was a diving header to bang home a Christine Sinclair rebound — and the whole process was over in just a few minutes. At the end, she thanked us for being there, then a few Thorns employees clapped as Sugita walked out the door back to the locker room.
She beamed again.
“I hope that was OK,” she said in English.
— Tyson Alger
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