PORTLAND, Ore. — A cross-country trip to play a game full of postseason implications in front of a sold-out stadium could have had disaster written all over it for the Portland Timbers.
Add those factors to the fact that the Philadelphia Union had scored 13 goals in their last five matches, and the Timbers hadn't even played a game in 17 days.
Bottom line, Portland are right to be happy after earning a scoreless tie in Saturday's match at the Union's PPL Park.
"Overall, I think it's a very, very difficult place to play," Timbers head coach John Spencer said. "Really, really tough team to play against, well organized, a lot of quality players. ... I was happy with our performance."
The Timbers withstood an early barrage from Philadelphia's attacking lineup that included Freddy Adu, Roger Torres, Sébastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunović and Danny Mwanga that had only four nights earlier scored four goals to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a 4-4 tie against New England. All in all, Portland held the Union to just three shots on goal.
"I thought after the first 15 minutes we started to get a little belief in ourselves [and had] a couple of chances in the half to get in the lead," Spencer said. "At half, pretty happy to be at 0-0, and second half at kickoff I think we started to dominate the game."
Portland even had a couple chances to get three points out of it.
Midfielder Jorge Perlaza had a decent look at the goal but was stoned by Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. A run by midfielder Sal Zizzo early in the second half was also turned away by MacMath.
And in the 85th minute, forward Kenny Cooper got free on a counter attack but couldn't convert.
"I think we did really well to create some good chances," Cooper said. "Some of the ones that fell to me, I wish I could have done better with them, especially the one at the end. Diego [Chara] really played a super ball through to me, and I wish I could have done better with that."
A hero's homecoming
Portland Timbers defender Rodney Wallace returned riding high from his successful stint with the Costa Rican international team to play in the Timbers' scoreless tie Saturday against Philadelphia.
A week after heading in the winning goal in Costa Rica's 1-0 victory over the United States, Wallace came on in the 72nd minute against the Union. He said his first international goal has inspired a confidence he hopes will benefit his club as they head into the season's final stretch.
"I'm obviously happy with what happened," said Wallace, who has started in 20 of his 23 games played this season. "I'm hoping to translate the success I had over there to my play with the Timbers."