SEATTLE – Portland head coach John Spencer was energized by Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC in front of a record soccer crowd of 36,593 at Qwest Field.
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Not only did the Timbers answer the criticism that they are soft on the road, the team demonstrated that it is a fully capable combatant in MLS’ fiercest rivalry.
And more than that, Spencer took a moment to appreciate what is happening in the Pacific Northwest corner of the country.
“The atmosphere in the Pacific Northwest is electrifying,” Spencer said. “The Northwest is going to drag Major League Soccer right to the forefront of possibly being one of the best places in the world to play, right up there with the best leagues. This is going to be a major injection of adrenaline for Major League Soccer.”
Of course, earning a result on the road – their second point in five tries on the road – at Seattle lifted Spencer’s mood.
The coach had read preview material that called the Timbers “lambs” when they play away from home. But without the security blanket of JELD-WEN Field, Portland went down a goal against Seattle and then fought back for an equalizer.
“We showed a lot of character,” Spencer said. “We go down a goal and I bet there’s a lot of people sitting at home thinking, ‘Here we go. Portland’s going to lose [by] three or four.’”
Spencer said watching the first 12 minutes of the game calmed any jitters. He felt the Timbers – donning their Rose City FC kits for the first time – were in control of the action.
“We’re building something special here,” Spencer said. “We’ve got a good team in the making. We need to keep our feet on the ground and we need to come in every day and never take it off mentally or physically.”
Granted, Portland still don’t have a road victory yet – the Timbers are 0-3-2 away from home – but Spencer said the draw in Seattle will change perceptions.
“Tonight, I think we proved we’re a bit of a lion,” he said.