Coming off a win last Saturday against Kansas City at JELD-WEN field, the Timbers demonstrated exactly what had been missing all season: fire. Defeating Kansas City meant more than a win for the Timbers. Putting a halt to a losing streak, this win granted the Timbers that powerful boost of confidence they have been looking for since the start of MLS play. Though the plays in the game were a bit sloppy, it was an enticing match to watch. Ending a four game losing streak, Portland obviously was doing something different. Defense.
It isn’t a question of whether the Timbers work well as a team on offense. Kris Boyd offers his versatile offensive skills consistently throughout the games, with Franck Songo’o offsetting Boyd nicely with immense speed. With only five shots on goal between the two teams during the game, it was going to be defense that decided whether or not the Timbers would walk away with a win. Head coach John Spencer has been stressing defensive energy for the Timbers all season. On Saturday night the Timbers aggressively defended their goal and decided as a team that another loss was not going to happen. It was the mentality that Spencer has been calling for all season, the togetherness of a talented football team.
With the game brimming with quite a bit of fouls, Kansas City was not letting go of their combative mentality till the final whistle was blown. At the start of the second half is when I noticed a shift in the Timbers play. If Kansas City was going to play dirty, so were the Timbers. Playing in front of a sold-out rowdy Portland crowd, Timber players corrected their defensive strategies with prominent enthusiasm. Defender Lovel Palmer and Diego Chara depicted flawless defense from deep field to stopping attacks wide field.
Executing plays on defense is exactly what the Timbers have been needing to act on this season. As the whole stadium watched the final seconds tick down, there wasn’t any way the Timbers were going to let this one get away. Any fan will be quick to say that their team is the best there is. And I am confidently going to say just that about the Timbers. With Kris Boyd and Darlington Nagbe’s powerful offense balancing out the new adjustments on defense, the Timbers truly are a threat to MLS opponents.
Spencer reiterates his belief on playing the full 90 minutes, and while it was a bit scrappy, the Timbers fought till the end. “I think we stood up to them (KC) and gave them as good as we got,” stated Spencer. On Saturday the Timbers received that perfect amount of confidence they have been searching for all season.
Next up for the Timbers is an away game against Montreal tomorrow. Spencer stresses that there will be no easy games for the Timbers this season. Montreal (1-5-2) is coming off a ten-day break from regular season and will be feeling physically and mentally fresh.
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