BEAVERTON, Ore. – The Portland Timbers train kept on rolling in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Chivas USA at JELD-WEN Field.
And 11 games into new head coach Caleb Porter’s time at the helm, the Timbers continue to break ground. They stretched their MLS-franchise-best unbeaten streak to nine games. They’re in second place in the Western Conference with 18 points, the highest they’ve ever been with the most points through this many games.
Despite it all, however, Porter wanted to make clear in his comments after Portland were done picking apart Chivas that he is in no way patting himself on the back for what they’ve accomplished.
“We’re not where we want to be yet, which is what makes it scary, we can be even better,” Porter said. “But this team is very grounded. As much as MLSsoccer tries to create headlines that make us cocky, we’re not a cocky team. I’m not a cocky coach. I’m very humble, my players are very humble, we don’t get too high or low, we don’t talk trash.”
Porter has been adamant throughout the course of his team’s unprecedented play that while they exude confidence, they’re also grounded and understand they have to put in the work. He said that’s exactly what he saw against a reeling Chivas team.
“You look at Chivas, they were on a skid, and you didn’t see any casualness out of our group going into that game,” Porter said. “You didn’t see any overconfidence.”
Porter did, indeed, take time to express some enjoyment at where his team stands and how they’re approaching the streak. He said after a jovial training session Tuesday at the team’s training facility that his players -- a group that includes a mixture of newcomers and holdovers from the last two disappointing seasons -- are still sold on the process of continuing to put in the work to improve.
“What you see out of these guys is they’re very hungry, they understand the purpose of what we’re trying to do and they see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is obviously making the playoffs,” he said. “That’s our goal, but they’re also not forgetting about the little minor steps we have to take in every games.”
That, of course, gets easier this week as the Timbers prepare for a Saturday game at Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps.
“We don’t just walk out on the field and automatically, magically think we’re going to win games,” Porter said. “We know we’re going to have to put the work in for 90 minutes to get out of the game what we want. The reason we’ve been on a nine-game run without losing is because we stay humble and hungry and we won’t get complacent or overconfident.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.