BEAVERTON, Ore. – It was written all over David Horst’s face.
The two days between Wednesday’s training session and the Portland Timbers' bitterly disappointing loss on Sunday to the rival Seattle Sounders has not been enough time for the sting to dissipate. Horst – part of the backline that came under heavily scrutiny after the 3-0 loss – made his frustrations very clear as the club got back to the training field for the first time since missing another an opportunity to clinch the Cascadia Cup.
“I don’t know if we were right going into the Seattle game,” Horst told MLSsoccer.com. “Maybe we just thought we could get up for the game, but that’s not how it works.”
The big center back said the team was taught a hard lesson of what it takes to compete in a big-game environment with something more than the result on the line.
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“All year we’ve been able to get up for big games, and finally it bit us in the [butt] a little bit,” Horst said. “We have to start being better pros and being properly prepared for the games.”
And despite the anger persisting, Horst said the team has to understand they still have a chance to win the Cascadia Cup with a win in their next game, Oct. 21 on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps. They’ll have two more training sessions this week and the weekend off to get their minds right before turning their attention fully to Vancouver.
“It was not an ideal result, so we’re professionals and we have to move on and focus on the next game,” Horst said. “You know, we still have a chance to win the Cascadia Cup, and that’s what our goal is right now. We won, tied and lost against Seattle this year. We would have liked to win all three, but that’s not always going to happen. Now we have to focus on the Cascadia Cup, and we’ve got another shot at it.”
Timbers assistant coach Sean McAuley, who led Wednesday’s training session with interim head coach/general manager Gavin Wilkinson tending to administrative duties, said this week is an opportunity for players to channel their anger into something constructive. With two games left and with all that’s gone wrong this season, he said the players know it’s their responsibility not to hang their heads.
“It was a terrible trip, and we need to motivate ourselves to make sure we’re right at it again for the other local rivals,” McAuley said. “The players know what responsibility they have toward the team and the organization, and they’ve got the opportunity to go out and put right was wrong over the weekend. So we’re quite fortunate to have that big game the next game.”
And Horst said there should be no excuses for not showing up this time around.
“I think the emotion is there,” Horst said. “Hopefully everyone gets their bodies and their minds right, so hopefully leading up to the Vancouver game we’re a little better prepared.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.