Portland forwards Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza.
Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

Timbers optimistic about scoring at New England

PORTLAND, Ore. – Converting chances into goals is a part of the game where the Timbers have lots of room to improve, but Timbers coach John Spencer remains optimistic that his forwards are going to find the net more often in the coming weeks.

Portland have been outscored 5-1 in two MLS games so far. On Tuesday against Chivas USA in a US Open Cup play-in game, the Timbers frittered away three or four prime goal-scoring chances before Jack Jewsbury struck from 35 yards out in the 84th minute of a 2-0 victory.

On Saturday, the Timbers will hope to see improvement in the ongoing collaboration between Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza up front as they travel to Foxborough, Mass., to take on the New England Revolution (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick and Matchday Live).

“We realize we’re creating chances,” coach John Spencer said. “The forwards have had good looks at goal, [but] we’re just not having that little bit of luck in front of the goal. That’s usually the last thing that falls into place.”

Of course, arriving at a lucky moment usually begins by skillfully manufacturing the chance. That’s something Portland haven’t done consistently.

[inline_node:330468]“We need to have a little bit more quality on the final pass, from wide players and midfield players in general,” Spencer said.

Portland will be on the road for the third straight game in regular season play and the second time across the continent in eight days. The Timbers would love to have a first victory to further stoke up anticipation and excitement over the team’s sold-out home opener on April 14.

MLS newcomer Perlaza has played at mile-high Denver and sub-freezing Toronto in his first two games. Against Chivas, in a steady rain, he had a couple of first-half chances go awry. Yet Spencer remains confident in the Colombian forward.

“I think if he wasn’t getting those chances I’d be a little bit concerned,” the coach said. “He’s getting chances. Every forward goes through this.

“It’s important for forwards to hit the ground running and score goals. We know that. I’ve got 100 percent belief in the kid that he’ll come through. He’s scored goals at a real good level against some big teams. His movement’s excellent. His hold-up play has been very good. He’s working hard for the team.”

In the second half against the Goats, Spencer said he thought Perlaza and Cooper seemed to be playing closer together and doing a better job of finding one another.

“I think they came together as a partnership and they can start to build on that,” Spencer said.