PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers were disappointed with their first result from the 2011 MLS season, a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids. But the message coming out of a sober locker room is that next week is a new game.
WATCH: Highlights: COL 3, POR 1
“It’s a long season,” defender Eric Brunner said. “We’ve got a lot of games. It sucks to lose and puts a bitter taste in your mouth, but we can improve.”
Portland were not only playing the reigning league champions on the road, they were also dealing with the altitude and playing without three injured players – goalkeeper Troy Perkins and midfielder Darlington Nagbe and Sal Zizzo – who might have all been in the starting XI.
But no one made excuses for the mental lapses that contributed to the loss. Instead, players were quick to point out that another opportunity was around the corner, when the Timbers play at Toronto FC on Saturday.
[inline_node:331434]“It’s obviously not the start we wanted after a good preseason,” said forward Kenny Cooper, author of Portland’s first goal in MLS. “There’s a long season ahead of us. We have another [game] next weekend.”
A First Kick matchup at Colorado simply proved too tall an order.
“They’re a great team,” Cooper said of the Rapids. “I’m not sure they’ve changed much since last year. They have a lot of quality and a lot of guys who know what it takes to be champions in this league.”
On Monday, head coach John Spencer said he had watched the game three times.
“[Losing our opener is] not the end of the world,” he said.
Tickets going fast
Single-game tickets went on sale Monday at the JELD-WEN Field ticket booth, producing a line of people that snaked halfway around the stadium.
On Tuesday, the team announced that the opener against the Chicago Fire on April 14 was a sellout. Also, the Timbers have started a waiting list for 2012 season tickets now that the 2011 allotment of 12,500 has sold out.
Ticket sales remained hot on Tuesday. By early afternoon, the only tickets remaining for five games – April 17 vs. FC Dallas, June 19 vs. New York, July 10 vs. Seattle, Aug. 3 vs. LA Galaxy, and Aug. 20 vs. Vancouver – are for seats with obstructed views.
The Timbers announced that they will host renowned Dutch Eredivisie club AFC Ajax on May 25 at JELD-WEN Field.
The Ajax roster features Dutch national team goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and defender Gregory van der Wiel, who both played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The squad also boasts Danish international Christian Eriksen and Belgium national team members Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.
Ajax currently rank third in the Eredivisie and sit six points back of table leader PSV Eindhoven. During the 2010-11 season, Ajax competed in the Champions League against Europe’s best clubs, squaring off against both AC Milan and Real Madrid in group play.