Timbers excited, relieved to earn first MLS road victory

jewsbury penalty kick

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The Portland Timbers’ life in MLS got off to a fairly auspicious start. The club christened JELD-WEN Field with a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire while jumping out to a 5-3-2 record. But even then, Portland couldn’t buy a win on the road. Six losses in their next seven games, including after a bitterly disappointing Cascadia Cup loss at home to the Seattle Sounders, had the team reeling coming into Saturday night’s game.

But after the big home win over the Fire earlier this season, it seems fitting that Chicago should serve as the Timbers’ slump-buster as well as the site of their first ever MLS road win. On Saturday, the Timbers rode a Jack Jewsbury penalty goal to a 1-0 win on Saturday night in the Windy City. 

“It’s nice to hear the music going in the background of the locker room,” Portland head coach John Spencer said. “I haven’t heard that in a long time. The guys have been down in dumps. We want to play well every week and win games, but we are still a young team in the making. We are only 17, 18 games into our life as a professional team.  We are learning, and making mistakes as we go along.”

Jewsbury continued his impressive campaign, hitting his fifth goal of the season. And despite a Chicago attack that was constantly threatening Troy Perkins’ goal, the defense held firm to shut out the home side.

“We had a couple chances to really put the game away,” Perkins, who made eight saves on the night, said. “We didn’t and when you are on the road, and up one-nothing that’s the way it is. You just have to battle. You’re going to get shelled. You have to be able to deal with it.”

“The guys in front of me ran 90 plus minutes non-stop, and we didn’t give up one chance,” Perkins added. “Credit goes to them as well.”

The historic victory, though welcome to an embattled Portland squad, was tarnished by an injury to Kevin Goldthwaite. The defender looked to be in considerable pain as medical staff stretchered him off the field in the 10th minute.

“We don’t know yet,” Spencer said of Goldthwaite’s injury. “He tweaked his knee a little a bit. The doctor is going to have a look as soon as we can get him an MRI or an x-ray. Then we will know the full extent to the damage.”

The Timbers will travel back to Portland for a Wednesday night friendly against West Bromwich Albion before heading back out on the road for a game against the Columbus Crew next Saturday. But he quick turnaround might not feel quite as quick now with this win under their belts.

“We did a good job defending and we were mentally strong tonight,” Spencer said. “I thought it was a great victory coming off a massive defeat last week against Seattle.”