Giovanni Savarese blames Timbers mentality for recent lackluster defense


Just a few weeks ago, the Portland Timbers were on top of the MLS world, hoisting the MLS is Back Tournament Trophy after defeating Orlando City FC in the final. 

Now, they have returned to Portland for the resumption of the MLS Regular Season and have conceded seven goals in just two matches. 

What's even more confusing is Portland wasn't winning a ton of shootouts inside the Orlando bubble but rather games where the attack took advantage of opportunities and the defense remained sturdy for ninety minutes. 

What happened? Is there a championship hangover that's happening midseason? 

Who knows, but Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese blamed the team's mentality for the defensive lapses in the team's 3-0 loss to Seattle and 4-4 draw to Real Salt Lake. 

"It's a mentality situation and nothing more than that," Savarese told reporters Monday morning. "We have spoken about it today and yesterday as well in our training because how can you be probably the best defensive team in the tournament in Orlando and then when we come home, all of a sudden we concede too many goals?

"So it's not a tactical thing. It's more of a mentality [thing] and we all have to be a part of fixing [the defense.]" 

Longtime Timber Diego Valeri also voiced some frustration over the team's latest results and stated that the expectation within the organization is to compete for titles.

"Obviously the results against Seattle and even against [Real] Salt Lake, [they weren't] what we wanted and we have to improve a lot of things to become stronger and be able to win...


"The expectation is to play every game and to try and win every game. To have the points to secure a spot in the playoff[s] en route of winning the MLS Cup so that's our expectation and we know it's a long way to get it."

In the Diego Valeri-era of Timbers soccer, Portland has played in the Western Conference Final three times, won the Western Conference twice, won the MLS Cup once, and won the MLS is Back Tournament. 

As for the chances of Savarese's team equalling that success this season, the Timbers head coach likes their chances.

Currently, the Timbers are fourth in the West with 11 points on the season and all they have to do is get into the postseason as the franchise has lost just two win-or-go-home games under Savarese. 

"We're still in a very good situation on the table," said Savarese. "So, we just have to utilize that and make sure we can get as many points as we can to not only fight to a top of the West but also for the Supporters Shield which is where we have our aspirations and our target to be this year."

Portland will have a chance to earn three points on Wednesday, September 2nd against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Providence Park at 7:30 p.m. PT.