BEAVERTON, Ore. – When Fanendo Adi does things, he does them in twos.
At the very least, the Portland Timbers' new target striker has a flare for the dramatic. He scored two late goals in the Timbers 4-2 loss Sunday to the Seattle Sounders, adding a touch of drama to what was otherwise a comprehensive win for Portland’s Cascadia rival.
But the brace also meant that every MLS game in which Adi has scored for Portland, he’s scored twice.
“I think every game I play I just try to do my best,” Adi said after Thursday’s session at the team training facility. “When you are a striker and you are able to get the back of the net, that gives you a lot of confidence of course and gets you thinking back to the right shape.”
It may have been little consolation at the time – considering the nature of the loss, to a bitter rival, at home – but Adi’s return to the back of the net was good news for the Timbers moving forward. They face perhaps their biggest game of the season on the road Saturday against another rival, the Vancouver Whitecaps (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live, TSN2 in Canada), who they trail by just two points for the fifth and final MLS Cup Playoff spot.
“It’s very important,” Adi said. “We know how we stand in the next game, so we go in there basically to win.”
Adi’s goals, after coming on as a second-half substitute for Maximiliano Urruti, broke a nine-game scoreless streak, were his first in front of the Timbers’ home crowd at Providence Park and are his first since signing a Designated Player contract in late June following a short-term loan from FC Copenhagen. He also recorded braces May 28 against Chivas USA and June 7 against Real Salt Lake while still on loan.
“As a striker you always want to go into the game believing that you can get goals, but I don’t only have to think about scoring goals,” Adi said. “I have to think about helping the team, which is the first priority. Of course, my job on the pitch is to try to get goals, and of course when I don’t get goals I start thinking about what is going wrong. But I just have to stay motivated and do the same thing in training and work hard in training.”
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In addition to a goal in Portland’s opening CONCACAF Champions League victory, 4-1 over Alpha United in Guyana on Aug. 19, Adi’s return to form makes him a more attractive option for head coach Caleb Porter heading into Vancouver. Porter has alternated Adi and Urruti at the tip of his 4-3-3 formation.
“This is football,” Adi said of his preference of coming off the bench or starting. “I’ve been in the game for some years now, so I know how it works. As a player you just have to keep training hard and doing in training like in a match situation. When you work hard in training it comes out in a match situation.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.