No matter what is thrown the Portland Timbers’ way, this year they’ve seemingly always come up with a response.
Their most recent test of will came in Saturday evening’s 2-2 draw away to the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.
The Timbers fell behind twice to their Cascadia rivals. They were reduced to 10 men in the 81st minute. They dominated possession but didn't create many clear-cut chances.
Didn’t matter. They got the result.
“This team continues to do things that impress me,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said. “We’ve gone 10 games without a loss and throughout those 10 games we’ve faced adversity and in some games have had to come from behind one or two goals, and this is just another example of what this team is made of.”
The hero was the unlikely Jose “El Trencito” Valencia, a late substitute whose 84th-minute goal just three minutes after defender Mamadou “Futty” Danso was sent off, leveled the game. It was his first in a Timbers uniform.
Vancouver did just about all they could to put an end to the Timbers' MLS franchise-best unbeaten streak.
Camilo buried a 24th-minute freekick from just outside the box to give the Whitecaps their first lead at 1-0. Timbers captain Will Johnson, however, provided Portland’s first answer in the 64th minute when he easily converted a penalty kick earned when his shot was ricocheted off the arm of Whitecaps defender Andy O’Brien in the area.
But just minutes later, Gerson Koffie pushed the home team on top again with a curling shot around a helpless Donovan Ricketts.
The situation became even more dire for Portland after Danso was shown red after he got tied up with Camilo, sending the Brazilian sprawling to the turf. Replays showed that both players' legs simply became entangled, and even Vancouver manager Martin Rennie didn't think a red card was deserved.
“Even when you’re a man down, you’re a goal down and you’re on the road, there’s still 10 minutes to go, you don’t like your chances but you don’t give up,” Johnson said. “You fight and you try because we’ve got a thousand fans that sit up in the stands who expect nothing less. We recognize we’ve got to fight even if it doesn’t look like there’s any chance and the task looks impossible, we don’t give up and we fight.”
Needless to say, Porter and his squad leave Vancouver a happy bunch with a salvaged point. And why not, it’s another feel-good result to start a stretch of three road games and four of five away from JELD-WEN Field.
“This team just seems to have that never quit, refuse to lose [attitude],” Porter said. “And you hope you can kind of harness it in a team and some teams just never have it, but this team has it. We’ve seen that, and it’s not just the first game we’ve shown that, but in several games our backs are against the wall and we somehow find a way to get a result. This is a good result.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.