Once MLS road kill, Timbers find swagger away from Portland: "We’re not going to back down"
Rodney Wallace has been with the Portland Timbers from the beginning.
So the implications of snatch three points from Sporting Kansas City in their house are certainly not lost on him. And the fact that Wallace netted the game winner in Portland’s thrilling 3-2 victory Saturday night at Sporting Park made it all the more rewarding for the versatile Costa Rican international.
“It’s a pretty big night for me,” Wallace told MLSsoccer.com not long after he scored in the 58th minute to put the Timbers on top for good after the two teams went into the half locked at 2-2. “It’s a bigger night for the team.”
The kind of team the Timbers are, at the very least, is one that continues to break new ground in their third MLS season.
Portland remain the only MLS team yet to lose on the road. Their six-game unbeaten streak is their longest since joining MLS.
It’s the most goals Portland have scored on the road in a game since joining MLS and the first time they’ve come back to win on the road. In all, the Timbers had won just three previous games on the road in their first two MLS seasons.
“It’s about the guys that we have on the team, the personnel,” Wallace said. “I think this year we’ve proven to ourselves, proven to a lot of people, that we’re not going to back down. We’re not going to go to different places and sit back and let teams do what they want to do. We’re going to play the way we play at home when we’re away. We’re going to press high, we’re going to keep possession, we’re going to attack and we’re going to defend as a team as well.”
All that after the beginning of the game could’ve easily spelled disaster for the Timbers. SKC defender Chance Myers scored 40 seconds into the game and then put his team ahead again, 2-1, with a 29th-minute goal. Wallace said Portland never waivered in their mindset.
“We came out from the beginning, from before the game started, we came out knowing that we were capable of getting the three points, “ Wallace said. “We never really thought we were going into Kansas City to just sit back. So when they scored that goal, we just kept playing our game. We didn’t drop off. That kind of just fueled us just a little bit more to get the next goal, and we were very consistent throughout the whole game.”
And Wallace was right in the middle of Portland’s relentless attack.
His blistering shot, requiring a diving save by Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielson, led to Portland’s first goal – a Ryan Johnson header – off the ensuing corner kick in the 24th minute. Wallace’s game winner came on a perfectly timed through pass from midfielder Diego Chara. Wallace had three shots – all on target – on the night.
“The way we’re attacking this year, it’s more fluid, we have a lot of chemistry with the attacking guys,” Wallace said. “We were pressing high, and that’s how the goal happened. Diego Chara came away with the ball, and he found me on the run and I was able to finish.”
It’s clear, however the season plays out, that this was a big night for the Timbers. With six points from four road games already this season, they’ve nearly matched their entire road point total (seven) from all of last year.
“We just keep proving to ourselves the kind of team we are,” Wallace said.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.