Portland Timbers

LAFC spoils grand re-opening of Providence Park

LAFC spoils grand re-opening of Providence Park

After 12 straight games on the road to start the season, the Portland Timbers finally made their return to the home pitch. 

Not only was it the home opener, but it was the grand re-opening of the newly remolded Providence Park. Additions and upgrades to the east side of the stadium allowed 4,000 more Timbers' faithful to pack the park. 

It was supposed to be a grand evening for the Timbers, unfortunately, they had a juggernaut at the front door to welcome them home.

The best team in the league, LAFC, was their opponent on this night, and they quickly soured any happy feelings in the glitzy new stadium.

It took just six minutes of action for LAFC to capitalize on a huge mistake by Jeff Attinella and take the 1-0 lead over the home town team. 

Attinella threw a lazy pass attempting to reset the offense, LAFC intercepted it and beat the Timbers goalkeeper one-on-one for the easy score. It was the type of game where the Timbers showed they could play with the best in the league, but it was unforced mistakes that did them in.

It wasn't all bad though. Designated Player Brain Fernandez was making his home debut, and he would strike one of the most spectacular bicycle kick goals you will ever see. 

Despite the magic from Fernandez, the Timbers just couldn't take down the best the league has to offer. 

Final Score: LAFC 3 - Portland 2

A Grand New Home:

The talk after the game wasn't just centered around the game, it was centered around the venue it was played in. Providence Park was also making its debut after an offseason of expansions and upgrades. Said head coach Gio Savarese, "You can feel the difference of those extra 4,000. Not only because they're loud, but that presence. That building that feels like it's on top of you is fantastic. 

Added Diego Valeri, " The feeling is so different. Our crowd was great, as always."

Moving On From His Mistakes:

Jeff Attinella had a major mistake early in the game that led to a quick goal for LAFC, and he was quick to take the blame.

"When you're a goalie and make a pass like that, make a mistake, you get punished," said Attinella. "That one's clearly on me... I know that you won't hear any of the guys blaming me, but that one's on me, that's on my shoulders.  As a goalie, you gotta own it and move on and try to learn from it."

Attinella was right. None of his teammates blamed him for the loss, and in fact, his coach jumped to his defense. When asked if he was worried about Attinella's decision making Savarese was quick with the answer. "No. No. Zero concerns... anybody can make a mistake. It's how you react to mistakes that makes a difference, and I thought that he reacted very well."  

Next Up:

The Timbers play a U.S. Open Cup match against the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, June 12 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. 

The team returns to MLS action when they host the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, June 22. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. at Providence Park. 

Timbers woes continue as playoffs near

Timbers woes continue as playoffs near

If the Timbers match on Wednesday was an episode of Sesame Street, the Count's number of the day would have been Three... Three. It was the number of points the Timbers hoped to gain, and it was how many minutes the Red Bulls needed to dash Portland's hopes. 

Three minutes into action New York's Kyle Duncan rocketed the ball past Steve Clark and netted the Red Bulls the incredibly early 1-0 lead. The lead would hold and with it, the Timbers were left below the red line.

It's getting down to crunch time for the Timbers. They have just four games remaining on the regular-season schedule, and Wednesday's result didn't help their push for the playoffs. 

Of the four teams remaining on the Timbers schedule, only Sporting Kansas City is not currently a playoff team. Basically, the road isn't easy for Portland. However, despite the loss on Wednesday, Portland still controls its own destiny. Seventh place FC Dallas has just one more point than Portland, but only has three games left on the schedule. Meaning all Portland has to do is win out, or at least win more games than Dallas, and they'll make the cut. 

Sunday's game against Minnesota, while cliché, may just be the most important game of the year. Why? It's all about the number of the day - Three. A win is worth three points, while a loss would be the third in a row for the Timbers. If you're placing bets, you might want to put some money on Portland scoring three goals on Sunday. It just feels right. 

So, so close:

The Timbers had their chances on Wednesday, but came up just inches away from victory. First, Diego Chara had a chance to tie the game but his shot hit the crossbar. The more you watch the replay, the more you ask how it's possible the ball didn't go in. 

Jeremey Ebobisse also had a chance late in the game, but his clear look resulted in a ball pushed just wide of the net. It was another shot where you were left wondering what happened. Portland probably should have won this game 2-1, or tied at the very least, but it just wasn't in the cards. 

#AUnitedFront:

The Timbers Army and supports around the league continue to battle with MLS over the ban of the Iron Front. "A United Front" has become a rallying cry and hashtag as supporters come together against the league. On Wednesday, Coach Savarese threw in a little nod to those supporters. "It's about to stay calm, to stay connected with our fans as a united front to make sure that we are able, together, to go through this difficult time and hopefully be able to make the playoffs." While it seems at times the organization isn't backing its loyal supporters, it appears their head coach is. 

Paredes goes down:

The loss is tough enough, but it was made worse after a late-game injury to Cristhian Paredes. Paredes was on the receiving end of a hard tackle, which a foul was not called, and went down grabbing his right leg. It was hard to tell if it was shin or ankle, but it appeared to be a lower leg injury. Paredes had to be stretchered off the pitch and his status was unknown following the match. "I'm not too sure," said Savarese when asked about the injury. "Right now he's being evaluated and we'll give you exactly the situation and probably the time he will need, if any, after that collision he had." Sebastián Blanco subbed in for Paredes and played the final 17 minutes of the match. 

Next up:

The Timbers host Minnesota United on Sunday, September 22nd. Kickoff is set for 12:55 at Providence Park. 

Timbers fall to D.C. United thanks to an own goal

Timbers fall to D.C. United thanks to an own goal

You can be perfect 99% percent of the time, but that 1% you aren't could be enough to dismantle the other 99%. In other words, one mistake is all it takes to go from victory to defeat. On a rainy Sunday at Providence Park, it was a single mental lapse by the Timbers that would end up handing them the loss. 

In the 25th minute D.C.'s Ulises Segura sent a cross into the box. Steve Clark pressed forward to clear the ball, but a sliding Bill Tuiloma got there first and unfortunately deflected the ball past Clark and into the net. It gave United the 1-0 lead, and the eventual 1-0 victory. 

It really felt like Portland controlled most of the game. They had a good flow offensively, played much of the match on the D.C. side of the pitch, and had plenty of chances to score, they just couldn't find the net. 

"We put 37 crosses in, and 80% of possession, but that's not enough," said head coach Gio Savarese. "It's not only enough to play very, very well. It's about scoring goals, and they did. They scored one."

Coach Savarese wasn't about to blame the game on an own goal. He gave D.C. United all the credit fo playing like a veteran team and doing the little things down the stretch to ice the game. He also chalked it up to the game itself. 

"Last week, against Kansas City, we put up a hopeful cross and it went it. Today we put up a better cross and hit the crossbar. Sometimes, that's soccer."

The Timbers will have a quick turnaround and chance to bounce back when they host the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday. 

GETTING CLOSER TO FULL STRENGTH 

The Timbers have been dealing with injuries and illnesses all season long, but they could finally take a step toward full strength by Wednesday's match. Coach Savarese said that both Brian Fernandez and Sebastian Blanco could be ready to go, though he sounded more confident in Fernandez making a return. When asked when those two would return, Savares said, "hopefully Brain (Fernandez) this Wednesday, and Blanco, maybe this Wednesday. We'll see."

VALERI IN RAREFIED AIR

Here is a fun little Timbers fact for you: With his start against D.C. United on Sunday, Diego Valeri became just the third Timbers player to start 200 games for the club in the MLS era. The other two being former teammate Darlington Nagbe (203 matches started) and current teammate Diego Chara (253 matches started). 

PUSH FOR THE PLAYOFFS

The Timbers need to find a way to turn it around and grab some points in the next match. Just five games remain on the schedule and just one point separates sixth-place Portland and eighth place LA Galaxy. LA also has five games remaining, meaning Portland controls its own destiny. Win out, and there is no way you fall below the red line. Stumble like they did against D.C. United and the door remains wide open for the Timbers to fall out of the playoffs. With the playoff race so tight, losing on an own goal makes this latest loss even tougher to swallow.

NEXT UP

The Timbers waste no time getting back on the pitch, staying at home to host the Red Bulls on Wednesday, September 18th. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm. 

Better late than never for a game-winner

Better late than never for a game-winner

On Saturday at Providence Park, Timbers fans were treated to a bit of history all thanks to Brian Fernandez. Fernandez, who didn't get the start due to a stomach illness, had enough in the tank to sub in late and give the Timbers an offensive punch. 

Tied 1-1 and in stoppage time no less, Fernandez did what Fernandez does - he found the back of the net. In the 94th minute Diego Valeri crossed the ball into the box where Fernandez headed it home. Game. Set. Match. From one point to three points in the blink of an eye. 

So what made a historic night? The goal tied a team record for the latest game-winner for the Timbers at home. 

The Timbers grabbed the 2-1 victory and three very important points to help keep them in the playoff hunt. 

WELCOME TO PROVIDENCE PARK
It was a special night for one Timbers' player in particular - midfielder Eryk Williamson. With head coach Gio Savarese looking at a locker room full of injuries he turned to Williamson, giving him his first career start in front of the Providence Park crowd. 

"It was unreal," said Williamson. "Playing in front of the Timbers Army... from the outside, you don't get the same atmosphere and the same feeling."

Williamson had a solid performance, playing all 90 plus minutes for the Timbers. Said Williamson, "it's just unreal to play in front of the fans here and I'll never take them for granted"

WHAT'S A HANDBALL?
We all know you aren't allowed to touch the ball with your hands in soccer, but for some reason the MLS refs don't see it the same way... or see it at all. There were multiple potential handball violations that went uncalled when they should have resulted in Timbers' penalty kicks. 

"There is confusion. They don't know exactly what is a handball, when it's a handball," said Savarese. "We saw today two handballs that could have been PKs."

Don't get him wrong. Savarese doesn't think the refs are targeting the Timbers, or making bad calls on purpose, he just thinks there is some confusion amongst the referees as to how and what to call. 

"If this is the rule they need to follow it. I don't think all of them are following the same page so there's confusion among them."

Hopefully, they can figure it out. With points at a premium and playoffs on the line for the Timbers, you can't afford to have a season wasted on a missed call. 

YOU CAN'T STOP US
During last week's match at Providence Park a few scattered Iron Front flags could be seen waving in the Timbers Army.  The flag, used as a symbol of anti-fascism and anti-racism, has been banned by Major League Soccer. In response, MLS suspended several members of the Timbers Army, banning them for three games. 

The Timbers Army answered by protesting on Saturday in a simple but powerful way: By not waving a single flag or detonating the traditional green and gold smoke for a Timbers score. 

A sign under the Timbers Army read "you can't stop us," a clear message to MLS. 

NEXT UP:
The Timbers remain at home and welcome D.C. United to Providence Park on Sunday, September 15. Kickoff is set for 12:30 pm. 
 

Timbers don't do laundry, because Steve Clark brings clean sheets

Timbers don't do laundry, because Steve Clark brings clean sheets

Steve Clark. Have you heard of him? He's a pretty talented goalkeeper for the Portland Timbers and on Saturday he put together another stellar performance to help Portland secure a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake. 

It was the fifth shutout of the season for the Timbers, and Clark has been guarding the goal for all of them. 

Real Salt Lake got off 17 shots in total, with six of them being logged as shots on goal. Clark, well, he blocked all of them. 

After the game, head coach Gio Savarese said of Clark's performance, "it was excellent. I think Clark was secure, was good in goal, he made one or two saves that were crucial."

Savarese may be understating just how crucial Clark's saves were to this victory. Of Clark's six blocks, none were more important than his save in second-half stoppage time.

In the final seconds of action, Renzo Zambrano was called for a foul just outside the box, giving Real Salt Lake a chance for one last free-kick to potentially tie the game up. This is where Clark flexed his muscles and stepped up with the spotlight on him. The result was one of the best saves of the Timbers' season.

When asked what was going through his mind at that moment Clark paused, then said what 20,000 plus fans in Providence Park were probably thinking at that same time, "(expletive), I hope he doesn't score."

It got a good laugh out of the media members in the locker room, and while the answer is true and simple enough, the actual play wasn't that simple at all. Clark didn't sit there and hope Real Salt Lake missed. He made sure they missed. 

"I'm gonna cover my post and make him beat me over the wall," Clark added. "A lot of people move early and they get beat on the goalkeeper side. So I stayed, and I got paid for that."

Clark has truly been a key to the Timbers success over the past two seasons. As Mike Donovan pointed out, since acquiring Clark last season the Timbers are 15-6-2 overall when he starts, and 11-4-2 this season.

Saturday was just another great night for the guy in the Michael Myers mask. 

But, Clark wasn't the only key to victory on this night. Diego Valeri scored the only goal of the match just 16 minutes into the action. When the Timbers score early it's always a good sign. When they score first, it's even better. The Timbers have scored first in 12 of their matches this season. They've gone on to win 11 of them (11-0-1).  

Said Valeri, "in soccer, if you score first you have a big advantage to win the game. If you can do that you have to try to manage the game with more calm. At some point, we did that."

Against Real Salt Lake, Valeri was the striking force and Clark was the calming force. From there, it all just fell into place. 

Next up: The Timbers get a week off before hosting Sporting Kansas City. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm on Saturday, September 7th. 

 

 

Portland Timbers lose to rival Seattle Sounders in front of “silent” crowd

Portland Timbers lose to rival Seattle Sounders in front of “silent” crowd

PORTLAND, OR - The Portland Timbers lost 2-1 to rival the Seattle Sounders on a beautiful Friday evening in front of 25,000+ fans at Providence Park. Early goals from Cristian Roldan (22') and Raul Ruidiaz (46') for Seattle in the first half forced Portland to come out of halftime with a sense of urgency. A goal from the captian Diego Valeri (54') off a free kick just outside the box did just that. The Timbers came within inches of tying the game on two occasions: a goal from Brian Fernandez that was called offsides; and a Sebastian Blanco header off a big cross that just missed high. Portland had its chances, but could not capitalize.

To make matters worse with the loss, the Sounders claim the Cascadia Cup.

But this was more than just another game and here's what went down:

In a Yahoo! Sports article today, MLS President Mark Abbot said: “The prohibition on political signage is in place to support the overwhelming majority of MLS fans who come to our stadiums to enjoy a great soccer game ... All of our fans and supporters are important to us and we will continue to engage with them to ensure that we deliver an incredible experience for all.”

The response? Both Timbers and Sounders fans were quiet and did not chant… until the 33rd minute.

The reason for the silence until the 33rd minute? In 1933, the Iron Front was disbanded by nazi Germany. 

A protested silence against the MLS.

When asked about the crowd silence, Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said, "I want to talk about the game, I don't want to talk about stuff outside. I'm concerned with stuff only happens on the field... I love our fans. I love our guys. They support us all the time... Today we lost against a team we did not want to lose. We always want to win against Seattle. And that's what we want. Especially what was at stake today. So for me, the only thing I care about is what is happening on the field."

Only time will tell how this will affect the rest of the MLS and sports world in the coming days.

Timbers start fast in 3-2 victory over Fire

Timbers start fast in 3-2 victory over Fire

The Timbers grabbed an ever-important three points on Wednesday with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Chicago Fire. Chicago came to Portland winners of two in a row but the Timbers quickly pounced and left them reeling. 

Jorge Moreira scored in the eleventh minute, then Brian Fernández scored just ten minutes late. 21 minutes into the game and the Timbers had a 2-0 lead. 

To make matters worse for Chicago, they had to play a man down after Aleksander Katai was issued a red card in the 29th minute. The way the game started you would have expected a blowout. But that wasn't the case. 

Portland appeared to let off the gas, so to speak, while Chicago showed its hearts and tried to claw back. Chicago would score their second goal of the game in stoppage time, but the final whistle blew soon after. The entire game wasn't as pretty as the first 21 minutes made it seem, but the result tasted just as sweet. 

LETTING OFF THE GAS
So, did the Timbers let off the gas? The jumped out to the early 2-0 lead and were clearly the better team. Yet, even being a man down, Chicago was able to make a game of it. 

When asked if he thought the team let up, Brian Fernández said "I believe so. It nearly cost us the game."

However, Diego Valeri didn't necessarily see it that way. "Most of the time during the game, we dominated them. Being 11 against 11, being 10 against 11, we dominated them," said Valeri. "But when you miss three or four clear chances, and then you got a couple mistakes and they score goals, the game looks like you didn't do much to win three or four zero." 

Savarese, well, he knows his team is capable of better. Post-game the Timbers head coach talked about how these are the types of games, the type of team that the Timbers need to put away. They can't sit back and let a chance get points slip away.  They have to be up to the task.

Said Savares, "this was the type game that I think if we do the things that we can do there's no reason that we have to suffer all the way until the end... we need to be better."

BRIAN FERNÁNDEZ IS ON FIRE

Just how good is Brian Fernández. Answer: Really, really good. 
The Timbers forward scored a brace on Wednesday, netting his ninth and tenth goals of the MLS season. 10 goals in just 12 games is incredibly impressive. Overall, Fernández has scored 14 goals across all competitions for the Timbers. Oh, and he has only been in Portland since May. Talk about making an instant impact. 

MABIALA GOES DOWN
Portland we dealt a tough blow in the 34th minute when defender Larrys Mabiala went down with a non-contact injury. At first, it appeared he may have hyperextended and injured his knee, but it was later determined that it was a hamstring injury. Mabiala had to leave the game and was replaced by Bill Tuiloma. 

Head coach Gio Savarese said of the injury, "it's a hamstring. We don't know exactly what is the severity of the situation so we'll find out a little bit more. It's unfortunate that he had to come out of the match."

No more information on Mabiala's injury is known at this time.

NEXT UP:
It will be a rematch of last season's MLS Cup on Sunday when the Timbers welcome Atlanta United to town. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm. 

Timbers stand tall on a rain-soaked Saturday

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USA Today

Timbers stand tall on a rain-soaked Saturday

Composure: A calmness or repose especially of mind, bearing, or appearance. The ability to stay in control of oneself.

This simple word is perhaps the biggest reason the Timbers came out victorious on Saturday. Not only because they had it, but they were able to keep it.

As the first half drew to a close a Vancouver defender appeared to clear the ball by deflecting a header with his hand. What should have resulted in a penalty kick for the Timbers instead turned into nothing for the home team. A few moments later the whistle blew and instead of Portland possibly being up 2-1, the two teams headed to the locker room tied at 1-1.

Frustration felt like it was about to boil over. Heavier than the monsoon were the boos raining down on the referee. Head coach Gio Savarese confronted the referee on their way to the locker room and made sure to get his two cents in. As he walked to the Timbers' tunnel the crowd erupted in a chant of "Gio-Gio-Gio."

The energy was electric. The Timbers Army was at a tipping point. But the Timbers weren't. They simply were ready to take care of business in the second half. Why? Composure.

Diego Valeri said one big reason the team kept its composure, kept its focus, is because they knew there was plenty of game left to be played.

"Knowing that we have to manage the whole game. It's 90 minutes," said Valeri. "At home, we know that winning duels, being aggressive without the ball and patient with it, we will dominate the game."

Keeping the focus on the task at hand, not that calls that were and were not made was something Savarese hammered home at halftime.

"I told the guys what I always tell them. Just make sure we don't those things frustrate us. That we need to continue to play. That we need to make sure that we don't think about what happens and the decisions that the referee is going to make. We have to do our game and get the job done."

The team had their ears on when Savarese told them this because in the second half the team got the job done. An absolute dart from Marvin Loria in the 55' gave the Timbers the 2-1 lead, then in the 90' Jeremy Ebobisse put the nail in the coffin.

Portland grabbed a big win over a Cascadia rival. They grabbed an ever-important three points to add to the table. And they did it all by keeping their composure, something often easier said than done. 

Next up: Portland stays at home for the second of a ten-game homestand to take on the Chicago Fire. Kickoff is set for 8:00 pm on Wednesday, August 14th.

 

Social Media Reacts: Timbers USOC run comes to an end with loss to Minnesota

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USA Today

Social Media Reacts: Timbers USOC run comes to an end with loss to Minnesota

The Timbers U.S. Open Cup run came to an end on Wednesday following a 2-1 semifinal loss to Minnesota United FC.

On the bright side, it was just the U.S. Open Cup. The Timbers return to MLS action on Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps. 

Here is what fan on social media had to say following the loss. 

 

Social Media reacts to the Timbers' controversial 1-0 loss in Minnesota

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USATI

Social Media reacts to the Timbers' controversial 1-0 loss in Minnesota

It wasn't the result Timbers' fans wanted, but a quick turn around provides a chance at redemption.

The Timbers lost their Sunday match to Minnesota 1-0 after a handball in the penalty box in extra time gave Minnesota the chance they needed. 

The call at question was a tough one and you can watch it around the 1:30 mark here:

Various opinions from media and fans have circulated after the call:

The Timbers won't have time to dwell. They take on Minnesota, again, on Wednesday as part of the US Open Cup Semifinals at 5pm.