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Timbers' Spencer pans dust-up, addresses job speculation

PORTLAND, Ore. – Any good rivalry is going to have a few dust-ups.

And the latest chapter of the Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders derby provided just that, an extra-time melee that resulted in two red cards and plenty of shoving and trash-talking in the Timbers' 2-1 victory Sunday at JELD-WEN Field.

Portland head coach John Spencer, however, wasn’t too impressed, likening the ruckus to a group of old ladies swinging their handbags at a pickpocket.

“You’d like somebody to put one on somebody’s chin and get on with it,” Spencer said.


As for whether Spencer was able to knock out speculation over his job security after leading the Timbers to their first MLS victory against the Sounders, he felt Sunday’s result spoke for itself. A report in the local media on Sunday suggested – without attributing a source – that Spencer would be fired if the Timbers lost to Seattle.

“There were a lot of things wrote this week, a lot of things said,” Spencer said. “And for me actions speak louder than words. And you tell me that players are not playing for me, well I didn’t see anybody not playing for.”

Along those lines, the importance of defeating their primary rival was certainly not lost on Spencer's players.

“We came into the game knowing that we needed to get the three points,” said striker Kris Boyd, who scored Portland's first goal. “That was the most important thing. To get the fans back on our side, to get everybody off our backs and prove to people that we can play.”

And while the Timbers have some work to do in the Western Conference standings, they are right where they want to be in the Cascadia Cup table – first place with four points. The Timbers have two matches left against both Seattle and Vancouver to decide the fan-based derby contested by the three Pacific Northwest clubs.

Alhassan status uncertain

The Timbers returned to training Monday without Kalif Alhassan, who left Sunday’s match in the 54tg minute after pulling up lame on a run into the box.

Spencer said Monday that the midfielder suffered a hamstring strain, the same injury that cost him five games earlier this season, and would be evaluated by the team’s medical staff.

Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at dcitel@hotmail.com.