The 2020 Portland Timbers will go down as one of the most resilient in club history.
After having its season abruptly postponed due to a once-in-a-century pandemic, Portland responded by leaving the Orlando bubble as MLS is Back Tournament Champions.
Then following a season-ending ACL tear to MLS is Back Tournament MVP Sebastiàn Blanco shortly into the resumed MLS Regular Season, Portland responded by going on a five-game winning streak to enter a tie for the first in the west.
So after his team secured a franchise-record fourth consecutive postseason appearance following a dominating 5-2 win over the LA Galaxy, head coach Giovanni Savarese praised his team for overcoming such adversity this season.
“This year has been an enjoyable year in regards to what we have in the locker room," said Savarese. "The fact that we’re going through so much difficulties in this year, it was very important for us to have a group like this that fights for each other, has a belief that the strength is the group and everybody tries to put their part into the game to make sure that we’re successful as a team."
Entering the match, the Timbers had self-created adversity by conceding back-to-back stoppage-time equalizers to take away four deserved points. Portland responded by putting together one of the season's most impressive performances.
"It was very disappointing because we deserve [to] win in my opinion [the past] two games," said Jaroslaw Niezgoda. "[Tonight] we started great. Two fast goals and after these goals, our game was easier for us."
"For me, today was a very strong performance and coming from those other two matches, it gives you a good feeling that we’re on the right path," added Savarese.
Results like tonight are why Savarese shows so much pride in the mentality of his players.
"I’m fortunate to be the coach of this group because I feel very privileged to have this group of players that at this difficult time have been so united to follow this path and to make sure that we work hard every single practice."
During his kind comments, Savarese brought up the misfortune his players have dealt with, and persevered through, during the 2020 MLS Season.
"We saw it in the MLS is Back Tournament that we went there and put in our minds that we had to do what we had to do in order to go all the way to the end. We suffered the injury to [Sebastián Blanco] and that was a big injury because [Blanco] was and is a very important player for us and the guys continue to support each other to make sure that we continue to move forward.
"That’s why I’m extremely proud of the group and we’re still going to continue to work hard to become better and to continue to be competitive."
Next, the Timbers will host Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Providence Park on Sunday, November 1st at 7:00 p.m. PT.