PORTLAND, Ore. – There was something very familiar about the Portland Timbers’ 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at JELD-WEN Field.
About eight months ago a struggling Timbers team faced the league’s hottest squad and came away with a much-needed win. Portland came into that early-August match against the LA Galaxy struggling badly, but won 3-0 to end LA’s 14-game unbeaten streak. From there, Portland went on to work themselves into the playoff race.
This time around, Portland’s scrappy victory ended Kansas City’s seven-game winning streak to start the season. And now Timbers head coach John Spencer is hoping the surprising victory creates even more momentum as the Timbers head into a road test Saturday against the Montreal Impact.
“I think we’ve got to take a lot of pride in our performance,” Spencer said. “We’ve got to go to Montreal next weekend in another difficult game. There are no easy games in this league. I think that everybody here is starting to realize that on the field and off the field.”
Jewsbury relishes victory over former team
Lost in the myriad storylines surrounding Saturday’s victory was the fact that Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury was finally able to celebrate a win over his former club.
The veteran midfielder spent eight years in Kansas City, then was traded to Portland before their inaugural season. Against SKC last year, Portland lost 2-1 at home on July 3 and 3-1 at Kansas City on August 17.
“I don’t think, necessarily, on our minds was the way we played them last year – for me maybe but not for everybody else in the locker room,” Jewsbury said. “For us it was just a matter of having that swagger back here at home. And I thought every single guy on the team tonight put a full 90 in. And it’s great to get the three points and get in here and see smiles on everybody’s faces.”
More moves on the way?
With two outside defenders currently on trial with the Timbers, coupled with defensive collapses in three losses leading up to Saturday’s 1-0 victory, many expect the Timbers to address the backline.
GM Gavin Wilkinson – who traded for forward Mike Fucito last week – said that is on the agenda.
“Every player has been given the opportunity to show his worth,” Wilkinson said. “And occasionally you bring in players and they don’t perform on a regular basis. And if those players don’t perform on a regular basis, ultimately you have to look at better options. So we’ve brought in trialists at left back and right back being that has been an area of concern with consistency. So will we sign somebody if it makes sense and they’ll be a better fit? I would say so, yes.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org