Danny Mwanga and David Horst.
Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Home cooking helps Horst, Timbers get road point

David Horst got a warm welcome from friends and family who came to cheer him on as his Portland Timbers took on the Philadelphia Union on Saturday at PPL Park.

And perhaps it was the little taste of home that helped Horst, who is from nearby Pine Grove, Pa., and the Timbers overcome their road woes. Portland didn’t gain any ground in the playoff race after a scoreless tie Saturday against the Union, but they didn’t lose any, either. And that’s saying something considering Portland’s less-than stellar road record (1-8-4).

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“It’s always tough to travel across time zones to play,” Horst (above, right) said. “I think it might be harder to go west because time goes backwards for you so you have to adjust when you play games. Going across time zones catches up to you after a while, but I think we did a fantastic job tonight.”

The Timbers back line, aided by Horst, earned a clean sheet against a team that only four nights ago scored four times in a 4-4 tie against New England.

Despite fielding a potent lineup featuring Freddy Adu, Roger Torres, Sébastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunović and Danny Mwanga, Portland held the Union to just three shots on goal.

“A point on the road is always a good thing,” Horst said. “You always want three points, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Philly is a really tough place to play. Not many teams have won here this year, but I felt like we were ready for the fight and we did a great job here tonight.”

Horst said he wasn’t able to travel to his hometown during the trip because of the ongoing flooding issues the state is experiencing due to Hurricane Irene and tropical storm Nicole. But he said there was a big contingent there in his corner.

“I think it was the first time they ever got to see me play in person, which was really exciting,” he said. “For a lot of them it was the first Major League Soccer game they’ve ever seen, so I’m glad we did well tonight.”

Horst’s cheering section also witnessed Portland keep pace in the wild card playoff race. With 33 points from 27 games, the Timbers stay level with the New York Red Bulls, who tied against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. Philadelphia are three points ahead.

“You know it’s like this every year it comes down to about seven or eight teams, it comes down to that last game,” he said. “Every game at the end of the year is so vital. So you always have to play well every game because each could be your last.”