Timbers coach John Spencer offered no bulletin board material for the Sounders during a conference call with Puget Sound media this afternoon.
Here is some of what he had to say in advance of the Sounders visit to Portland on Sunday:
Q: How are the Timbers different now from the team that played to a 1-1 draw in Seattle on May 14?
JS: I don’t think we’re any different quality wise. Obviously having not picked up a couple of wins more than we should have done, we’re not on a great run. Confidence is the biggest factor for us right now.
Q: What happened that took away the confidence?
JS: What happened was we got on a good run, then with having young players and players who aren’t used to the league, you think that the run’s never going to end, you’re going to keep winning, and then you face a couple of bad results or results that go against you, and all of a sudden it tests your character. This is what the learning curve in professional sports is all about—you can’t always be on good runs and in the face of adversity you see the true strength of character and the true sense of individuals. We’re going to see this weekend a real true test of character for our guys.
Q: What about that little war of postgame words between you and Sigi Schmid?
JS: It was just, Sigi was speaking his mind, then I spoke my mind, and kind of a funny (inaudible). . . Not for one minute was I. . . It wasn’t a personal dig at Sigi, because I think he’s been tremendous as a coach and he’s had a fantastic coaching career. For me it was all professional, it was my professional opinion. It was nothing personal and I think Sigi would probably reiterate the same from his end. I have a lot of respect for Sigi and the job they’ve done up there at Seattle. They’ve been absolutely tremendous for this league with that they’ve done and you’ve got to take your hat off to them and give credit where credit is due. So it was a totally professional response, not a personal one.
Q: Why are Seattle and Portland so soccer crazy?
JS: I couldn’t tell you. I don’t’ come from here, so I’m enjoying my time here, but if I was answering that question, I’d be putting words into people’s mouth. All I know is it’s fantastic being a part of it, it’s great for the game of Major League Soccer, and it’s only going to give Major League Soccer the publicity (inaudible) for sure.
Q: Do you consider Portland fans better?
JS: You’re right. I probably do. Obviously I’m biased, I’m in this environment all the time. I have no doubt that Sigi and his coaching staff up there will say the complete opposite, but I think it’s just a tremendous experience. Even in an exhibition game last night, the atmosphere was electrifying. It’s just great for Major League Soccer and soccer in this country in general.
Q: Are you worried about fan behavior getting out of hand?
JS: No, I don’t think there’s going to be any trouble at all. Both sets of fans realize how important the game is, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near that stage where we’ve got to worry about crowd control. There’s never been any violence her at JELD-WEN, since I’ve been here anyway. I think it’s going to be two sets of fans who are going to have their fun and try to make it the best atmosphere possible.
Q: Your thoughts on Kasey Keller and his Portland connection?
JS: For me, I wouldn’t comment on Kasey’s college career because I don’t really know about it. When I think of Kasey Keller, I look along the lines of goalkeeping legend, to be honest with you. He had an unbelievable European career, he came back to the Sounders organization and has been fantastic in the nets for them, although I do hope he has a stinker this weekend. But I must admit that that’s the only way I can explain Kasey—an American goalkeeping legend.
Q: How is this week of preparation different in light of the Club America friendly last night?
JS: Having that exhibition game just kind of disrupts your preparation a little bit. But we had the luxury last night of resting a few guys and keeping them fresh for the game this weekend. So no excuses for us. We’re not tired, we’re not fatigued, we’re not nothing at all. We’re just looking forward to the game. I think that we haven’t prepared any differently than we have for previous games. We know it’s a big, big game … the first game in MLS between the Sounders and the Timbers here in Portland, so our fans are really looking forward to it.