Savarese on leaving Liam Ridgewell out: "We needed to change something"

FRISCO, Tex. – After two defeats, the Portland Timbers got their first point of the 2018 MLS regular season in a 1-1 tie with FC Dallas on Saturday.

While the Timbers conceded on the day, the defensive effort was improved at a venue that has traditionally proven tricky for them, even with captain Liam Ridgewell staying back in Portland for the match and Bill Tuiloma making his MLS debut in the Englishman's place.

Despite notable errors that led to goals in both of the Timbers' defeats prior to Saturday, Portland head coach Giovanni Savarese was adamant that this is not the end of the road for Ridgewell.

"Sometimes it’s those decisions a coach has to make that has nothing to do with the player," said Savarese following the draw. "We felt that we needed to change something. We changed the system, we changed some players, but I want to make it clear that I still believe 100 percent in Liam. Liam is a fantastic player and leader for us, and he’s going to be important for us in our future.

"This was just a coach’s decision right now, because I feel this was just what we needed today, but we’ll continue to build with Ridgewell."

Tuiloma made a solid first start for the Timbers alongside Larrys Mabiala. The pair have already dubbed themselves the "French Connection," owing to the New Zealander's time with Olympique de Marseille being a factor to his off the field friendship with the French-born Mabiala.

Tuiloma was second only to Alvas Powell with nine clearances, and played a key long ball that almost saw the Jamaican right back grab a late winner. Against FC Dallas, the decision to bring in the 22-year-old may have been prompted by the pace of the Dallas attack, with Maxi Urruti and Michael Barrios leading the line.

"To make my debut in Major League Soccer is such a blessing," said Tuiloma. "I went in to the game with the right attitude and the right mentality to work for my players."

While Savarese did not want to divulge the conversations that took place in dropping his captain, the Timbers coach did indicate it was a group decision, and that Ridgewell is looking forward to getting back out on the field.

"He’s a fantastic player for us, an important player for us," said Savarese. "He accepted this decision and he’s eager to start playing again. "