TUKWILA, Wash. – It was an unceremonious end to the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the Portland Timbers, who lost 2-1 to the Seattle Sounders at Starfire Sports Complex to get eliminated from the tournament on Tuesday.
But as Portland now turn their focus back to the MLS season starting with road matchup against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday (9:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE), Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said he’ll be leaving Tukwila with at least a couple of positive takeaways.
Even in defeat, Porter said he felt as though his youthful and inexperienced lineup put on a competitive showing against the Sounders, something that allowed him to save any first-team regulars that might have featured for Saturday’s match against Colorado.
“That was definitely what we were looking to do,” Porter said. “We have a tough window, we have injuries. We didn’t have a luxury of playing a Darren Mattocks, Chance Myers, Jack Barmby because those guys are injured.
“That’s why we played mostly the back-end of our roster. We made the decision to do that because we wanted to get guys some experience.”
The result, Porter said, will be a fresher side when Portland takes on the Rapids, who are languishing at the bottom of the Western Conference table but are 4-2-1 in MLS play – with three home wins in a row – in the friendly confines of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“Now we’re fresh going into Colorado with an XI that didn’t play a match,” Porter said. “We didn’t feel like we had the luxury of playing anybody in that XI because if we get any thinner we’re going to have a hard time putting the lineup out in the next game.”
Overall, while Porter acknowledged he was disappointed with the elimination, he said he feels as though having his club focus its full energy on the league season will ultimately be a positive as well.
“Now our focus moves completely into the league,” Porter said. “We don’t have to manage another round, another coin flip, where we’re going to be. And honestly, with the guys we have, that’s probably a positive because we’re very thin right now, we don’t have a lot of depth and we have an extremely difficult window where we’re at Colorado, we’re at Minnesota, we’re back [at home against] Seattle and then we’re off to KC.
“We can throw everything into the league now. We don’t have to compartmentalize or try to manage this extra competition.”