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Timbers coach: “We went toe-to-toe with one of the most talented teams in the league”

Post by Don Ruiz / The News Tribune on Aug. 25, 2013 at 10:57 pm with No Comments »
August 25, 2013 10:58 pm

Here’s some of what the Portland Timbers had to say tonight after their 1-0 loss to the Sounders at CenturyLink Field.

Caleb Porter – Portland Timbers Head Coach
(On what the message to the team was after the game …)
“Well, we played well. It was a very even game. For us to come in to this environment and basically go toe-to-toe with one of the most talented teams in the league and control large periods … we had chances. It was a very even game and it was a real credit to our guys, especially with the fact that we had several guys out. For us to come into this game and play as well as we did and perform as well as we did is commendable. For me, that’s going to be the case. We’re not surprised 25 games, and that’s part of the reason why we played as well as we did. This team takes the field believing that we can beat the Seattle Sounders with 70,000 fans and with three or four guys out. That’s the expectation and that expectation is there because we’ve proven that home and away. We’re going to continue to be in every single game we play, and not just hoping to win, but expecting to win. I thought the performance was good, the mentality was good. I thought especially in the first half, we controlled large periods. I thought at times we were the better team. But, in the end, we’re going to keep suffering if we don’t find goals and if we don’t continue to sort out set pieces. This game will continue to be cruel and we’ll continue to leave games feeling disappointed unless we find goals and unless we stop goals. With the way we play, with the way we built this team, with depth we have, with the mental toughness we have, with the fighting spirit we have in this locker room, we will go into every game, we will have the ball, we’ll be tough to break down defensively and we’ll be in positions to score goals. And yet, we won’t win unless we find goals and we won’t win unless we stop teams from executing set pieces. We made a jump as a team and we’re pleased with where we’re at, but at the same time, we’re not satisfied and we want to continue to get better because moral victories for me, for these guys, for our owner, they’re empty because we’re good enough. If we weren’t good enough , we’d be saying next year, we’d be saying we’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet. We’re there. That was an even game. We’re right there. It’s not good enough – for me, the guys, anybody – for us to be saying at the end of games that we played well and lost because we are good enough to win these games. And we were good enough today. I thought we played well enough to win, but in the end, you don’t deserve to win unless you find the goal and you don’t deserve to win unless you stop guys from scoring on set pieces. And they know that and they realize that. These guys just have to step up individually and they will. We’ll go into the game against Salt Lake, and like every game, we’re going to have a ball, we’re going to control large periods, it’s going to be a tight game, an even game. And if we find the goal, we’ll win the game. If we don’t, then we’ll suffer again.”

(On how he thought the midfield performed …) “I thought they looked good. Very few teams probably come in here, especially with 70,000 fans and guys out and control large periods of the game, and I thought we did that, especially in the first half. When they found the goal, then it becomes a different game. Now we’re chasing, now we’re gambling, now we’re getting stretched. You don’t want to be in that position with this team because they’re very athletic and talented. With time and space they can hurt you. So I thought once they scored the first goal, to some extent, they had more time and space to operate, which is to be expected, because we’re now pushing through to try and level it. But up to that point, we really looked to be the team that was in control, the team that was pushing the game, the team that was going to be in a position to win the game. Next thing you know, there’s a set piece and the whole game changes. This is a game of moments. You lose a moment, you lose a game. You get punished. It’s cruel. I thought we had good performances across the board really from everybody. But if you’re an attacker and you don’t score a goal, to some extent, how good of a performance was it? Ultimately you’re paid to score goals. These guys played well, but they know that have to find goals somehow. And that’s the next step in this club’s evolution. The guys marking, on box defending, they know that have to stop goals – that’s what they’re paid to do. It’s a 1-v-1 battle, and in the end, we didn’t do that job and they’ve got to step up, and they know that.”

(On if he sensed a change in the way things were going just before the goal …) “No, not really. Not at all. It was a counterattack on a foul, a set piece. It was a play that happened a lot. We had a ton of those – we had corner kicks, we had free kicks, probably more than they did actually. I don’t need to see the numbers to know that was a very even game and for us to be able to do that at this stage of this club’s evolution is a real credit to how far we’ve come. But none of us are satisfied because we are capable of winning these games. We’ve got to take it up another notch.”

(On how frustrating it is to not finish and struggle defending set pieces …) “I mean that’s just soccer. We play the way we play so we’re in a position to win, to score a goal. I’m not angry. It’s just a reality. To see the way we play, we’re right there. We were toe-to-toe with that team, but the difference was they found the goal. You’re looking at chances created, you’re looking at possession, you’re looking at the way the flow of the game went – it’s an even game. In the end, we’ve got to find the plays and make the plays.”

(On how the game started with Seattle on the run and Portland catching them on the counter …) “I think we actually had more of the ball than they did in the first half. The plan was to have the ball and the plan was when they had the ball, to launch counterattacks. When you play knowing both teams are pretty even, you have to prepare for when you don’t have the ball. We prepared for when they got us deep, to launch counterattacks. We also prepared to have the ball and make them defend us, and I thought we did a good job of that. We ran them around. There were times when they ran us around – it was an even game. That’s all you can ask for. When you put your game plan and your lineup together, and prepare your team to go into a game of this magnitude against a team of this caliber, you can only hope to be in a situation where you’re in the game and it’s 0-0 at halftime and to start the second half, and we’re not hanging on. We’re controlling periods and they’re controlling periods as well. But in the end, you’re in a position to win. And you only win if you stop set pieces.”

Michael Harrington
On the team’s weakness in the game:
“There was a moment there in the second half we’re getting beat on a set piece. That seems to be kind of a recurring theme over the last month or so where we’re dropping points because we’re not making plays in moments like that. So, a good performance, it’s just that you gotta make plays in the boxes on both sides of the field.”

On whether the team is feeling frustration in not winning games:
“Yeah, of course. It’s always frustrating when you feel like you outplay a team and then you don’t get opponents and we feel like we should be winning these games instead of tying them or losing them like we did tonight. So yeah, it becomes frustrating, but we’ll stick with it. We’ll continue to play the way that we’ve been playing. We just need to be a little bit more ruthless on both sides of the ball in the boxes.”

Ryan Johnson
On his performance and the performance of his team overall:

“The keeper came out pretty fast on my one chance I had. And then the header back post… When I got my head on it, I swore it was in, but somebody got a piece on it, deflected it out. It’s just one of those games that the chances just didn’t go in. We’re going to keep fighting. We got more games for the season. We’ll be fine. We’ll be in the playoffs at the end of the day.”

On how he felt the Timbers handled playing in front of 67k fans, and how they stacked up against Seattle Sounders FC:
“We’re right there. We know we’re a good team. Everybody knows that we’re a good team. We’re just showing it, and we can handle the pressure. They finished their chance tonight and we didn’t; that was just the difference. Next time, I think we’ll be on top.”

Darlington Nagbe
On what happened that Portland couldn’t pull out the win:
“We played well the first half. I had a couple of chances, I had a breakaway and I hit the post. We just weren’t fortunate to be up a goal at halftime. I thought we played well and were just unlucky in a set piece.”

On how Eddie Johnson managed to score the goal, whether it was a mistake made by Portland: ”I’m not too sure. I was marking Eddie Johnson, but it was a good ball in the box and Eddie got a head to it and flicked it in.”

On whether Coach Caleb Porter’s assessment was right, that they dominated the game but were unfortunate to not score a goal:“Yeah I agree. Overall I felt like we had good possession during the whole game, and had some chances first half. The first half was big for us. If we just would have went away and got a goal in the first half, I feel like we would have come out in the second half and got more control of the ball and controlled the game, but when they got that first goal, it changed the game a little bit.”

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