PORTLAND, Ore. – Despite the early week distraction of the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, Caleb Porter said it played little to no role in the Portland Timbers’ preparation for Saturday’s home game against Chivas USA (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live).
Porter, the head coach in the All-Stars’ 2-1 victory Wednesday over Bayern Munich at Providence Park, quickly shifted gears after the game to his day job as the leader of the Timbers. In fact, he said, he never really cut down on those duties in the first place.
The Timbers were going through a mostly routine training schedule during the three days of All-Star festivities. Aside from two brief sessions with the All-Star squad, Porter said there wasn’t much that left him otherwise occupied.
“In fact I think if you ask the guys, they’d say I was probably a little bit more ramped up to be honest with you because I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t affect it,” Porter said.
Even for the Timbers' All-Stars – Diego Valeri, Will Johnson and Liam Ridgewell – who each played the entire second half, it coincided with their usual workload. Valeri, who provided the setup for Landon Donovan’s game-winning goal, certainly was no worse for the wear after the game.
“It was a pleasure,” Valeri said in the postgame locker room when asked what his first All-Star experience was like sharing the pitch with the league’s best, including what was Donovan’s final All-Star appearance.
“It was great because they get a 45-minute run in, so it’s really like a heavy training session,” Porter said of his players’ All-Star expenditures.
Ridgewell, who was a late addition to the All-Star roster after an injury kept Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman home, said there’s been no problem transitioning from the relative light-hearted nature of the All-Star experience to what is a crucial Western Conference battle for the Timbers.
The Timbers sit in seventh place but just three points out of the fifth and final MLS Cup Playoff spot, while Chivas are four points behind Portland.
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“That’s over and done with now, and hopefully the momentum will build into the game tomorrow,” Ridgewell told MLSsoccer.com. “We had a good win, and I think tomorrow with the crowd and everything and it’s been such a good week in Portland that I’m sure they’ll be sure to let us know that they want to get the win and we will too.”
Porter said it’s especially important to be focused heading into this game considering it’s hard to know exactly what to expect with Chivas. The Goats followed a recent season-high four-game winning streak with what is now a three-game losing streak coming into Saturday’s game.
“I think they’re a dangerous team,” Porter said. “They won four games in a row – we haven’t done that – so you don’t do that unless you’re a good team. And yet they’re on a downswing and they’ve just lost three games in a row, so they’ve been a bit hot and cold, and I think that’s probably what makes them a dangerous team. This is a critical game for both teams.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.