PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Timbers head coach John Spencer said the play of midfielder Franck Songo’o was the one positive he took away from last Saturday’s 1-0 loss at New England.
And Songo’o, who this said his injured ankle is feeling healthier, is looking forward to his long-awaited JELD-WEN Field debut on Saturday against Real Salt Lake.
“It was good to be part of the team and come on the pitch and try to help the team,” Songo’o said of his 30 minutes of work at the end of the Timbers' otherwise disappointing performance against the Revs. “But we didn’t get the result we wanted, so we have to keep working and hopefully we can change that on Saturday.”
Songo’o’s first regular-season minutes with the Timbers were delayed after he suffered an ankle injury during a preseason scrimmage and then was forced to return to Spain, where he has played since 2008, to iron out visa issues. But when he came on for Eric Alexander on the left wing in the 60th minute, the Timbers appeared to awaken out of the trance they played under for most of the match.
Songo’o had two shots on goal, including a missile that required the quick reaction of Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis. Songo'o also completed 16 of his 20 passes successfully.
WATCH: Reis stops Songo’o blast
“I don’t think I changed anything,” Songo’o said. “I think the guys just realized we weren’t playing the way we were supposed to. We changed that and we had more emotion and were pushing in. But we didn’t score, so maybe it was too late. So hopefully we can start sooner in the next game.”
Spencer said Songo’o’s play was just what the team expected when he earned a contract after recording four assists in four preseason games.
“He looked nice and healthy and looked a little bit like the quality player we signed,” Spencer said.
Songo’o was inserted into the left wing position in Saturday’s game after doing most of his preseason damage from the right side. Right-winger Kalif Alhassan has impressed early this season with a goal and an assist.
“I really don’t care about what side of the pitch I am, the same with Kalif,” Songo’o said. “We talked about it, we don’t care. Sal [Zizzo], we talked about it, he doesn’t care which side. All of us can play anywhere, so whichever side doesn’t matter.”
As for whether Songo’o gets into the starting lineup against RSL, he said he’s ready. Going into the New England game, Spencer said he expected Songo’o to get 15 to 20 minutes and said he’ll start once he gets to full fitness.
“I feel for good for that,” Songo’o said. “I just have to keep working hard and let the coaches make that decision for Saturday.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.