PORTLAND, Ore. – Coming off a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Sunday, the Portland Timbers are now 2-9-4 on the road this season. Portland head coach John Spencer said that the club’s struggles on the road are partly due to a young squad still in the process of growing up.
Even before their win in Vancouver, however, Spencer said he had seen signs that the team are maturing. Their previous two road matches – a scoreless tie at Philadelphia on Sept. 10 and a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls last Saturday on Sept. 24 – had shown that much.
Sunday’s win was especially satisfying, though. It gave the fiery coach ammunition against the critics who didn’t share his vision.
“We’ve matured, we’ve learned quickly,” Spencer said. “We’ve been criticized heavily for our road form. But to turn around this weekend and to get a win on the road against Vancouver, it was great because I read an article on [MLSsoccer.com] this week and it said that the loss to New York was an ‘absolute killer.’”
He said he posted the excerpt, which was part of MLSsoccer.com’s week 28 Power Rankings that slotted the Timbers at No. 12, on the locker room wall in Portland and in Vancouver.
“And it just reminded the guys before they went out of the locker room that if you’re going to make statements like that ... and nobody puts their name behind their opinion of the article so they can sit anonymously,” Spencer said. “We looked at it like, ‘Okay, we need a miracle, let’s try to give them one.’”
Spencer also wanted to quash talk that his team are in position to make the playoffs in their first year due to the fact that they are “hard-working.”
“I think hard work only gets you so far,” he said. “It doesn’t get you 30 some weeks into the season 40 points. So I think its a little bit disrespective [sic] just to say we’re a hard working team. Yeah, we pride ourselves on our hard work. But I think to get 40 points in this league you have to have a little bit of quality as well. I think that’s not getting written as much as I would like. We’re well organized, we’re hard working, but you still have to have quality to get 40 points. And I think we have that.”
Internationals hit the road
The five Timbers players with international duties left the team after Sunday’s match in Vancouver. Defenders Futty Danso (Gambia) and Steve Purdy (El Salvador), midfielders Diego Chara (Colombia) and James Marcelin (Haiti) and forward Brian Umony (Uganda) will join their respective national teams for matches this weekend and next week.
The players are expected to return to Portland in time for the club’s regular-season home finale on Oct. 14 against the Houston Dynamo at JELD-WEN Field.