PORTLAND, Ore. – John Spencer was so fired up after the Timbers beat the Philadelphia Union 1-0 on Friday night that he grabbed a flag and waved it in front of a celebrating Timbers Army.
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Over the past month, the Timbers coach has lauded the atmosphere at JELD-WEN Field but has stopped short of crediting the crowd with the team’s improved play.
But in the wake of the Timbers hard-fought victory, while the head coach upheld that “the players win the game,” he made it clear how much the hometown support means to him.
“I don’t want to give the wrong impression when I say the fans don’t win games,” Spencer said after the match. “Before pre-game, I sit in the office while the staff are [handling] warm-ups, and I hear the chanting. For me … Timbers Army is inspirational. They inspire me to become a better coach; they inspire the players to put on better performances.”
Portland truly are inspired at JELD-WEN Field. The win over Philadelphia moved the Timbers to a perfect to 4-0 at home, where they have now captured 12 of their 13 points this season.
The Timbers scored the game winner in the 71st minute off Mamadou “Futty” Danso’s header from an always dangerous Jack Jewsbury set piece.
“In previous games I’ve been close [to scoring],” Danso said. “The last two weeks, the coaches have been working with me, and I’ve just been trying to put the ball on target.”
“We’re getting such great service from Jack Jewsbury. I said to Futty and Eric [Brunner] at halftime, ‘You’re going to get another chance, you’ve got to hit the target with it, just make the goalkeeper make a save,’” Spencer said. “Luckily enough, we get one and Futty puts it in the back of the net. I thought it was a tremendous header.”
Danso, who was a part of Portland’s second-division Timbers last year, knows how Timbers Army operates and how much it has raised its volume for MLS.
“It’s a different class [this year compared to last],” he said. “They lift everybody up and they’ve been great for us at home. We’ve just got to go away and just feel like they’re behind us and do the job away from home.”
For the fiery Spencer, the relationship with the Portland fan base is evolving and his feelings are growing deeper.
“I couldn’t see myself coaching any other club in the world than the Portland Timbers,” Spencer said. “I love being here. The atmosphere is just – sometimes it makes you tear up seeing that much support for us.”