Jake Gleeson -- Protests -- Geiger in forground
USA Today Sports

Timbers' Porter frustrated by penalty denials in loss to Sounders

SEATLLE – After Saturday’s 1-0 Cascadia Cup defeat to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field, Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter was frustrated that referee Mark Geiger did not award at least one -- and potentially two -- penalties during the second half.

First, midfielder Darlington Nagbe’s shot appeared to deflect off Chad Marshall’s outstretched arm in the 54th minute, though Geiger opted not to award the PK.

Then came shout for a handball on Osvaldo Alonso later while defending Fanendo Adi, one Porter admitted may have been less clear-cut.

“Probably two handballs,” Porter said. “Definitely one. Definitely one PK.”

Geiger gave his explanation for the Marshall call after the designated pool reporter submitted a question about it following the game.

“When considering the speed, distance and the fact that Marshall’s arm did not go to the ball, this was not considered a handball offense,” Geiger wrote.

Porter was actually complimentary of Geiger’s overall performance, calling the match “one of the better games he has had in the games I’ve coached with him in the middle.”

But the Timbers boss added that the two non-calls on Marshall and Alonso loomed large.

"The key plays, that’s when you make your money as an official, whether you call them or don’t call them,” Porter said. “I’m probably not as salty about it if it wasn’t for a few calls that we haven’t gotten or [had called] against us. We’ve given up PKs and red cards that I haven’t thought were PKs or red cards. But then, now, if the same play happens, I want that call. That’s the frustration more than anything.”

Porter also said you could count him among the coaches who are looking forward to the implementation of Video Assistant Referees, which he said is the best way to settle the type of 50-50 call the Timbers were on the wrong end of Saturday.

All MLS matches will implement the VAR system following the All-Star game in August.

“I can’t wait for VAR to come because all I want is fair calls,” Porter said. “That’s it. If we have a bad call against us, I swallow it, no problem. I just want to make sure the calls get right.”

As for his players, Porter said he was pleased with his team’s performance, despite a fifth straight match without a victory. If Portland continue to play the way they did on Saturday, he said, they’ll eventually get the breaks. 

“It’s undeniable to me that we were the better team on the day,” Porter said. “You look at every category, in terms of chances, possession, any metric you want to measure, we were the better team.

“It’s tough to swallow but it leaves you with a lot of optimism and hope moving forward.”