Fanendo Adi - Holds Log Circle - First goal 2018
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For Fanendo Adi, first goal of 2018 is a long time coming

PORTLAND, Ore. -- After 10 injury-ravaged months without scoring a goal, Fanendo Adi bagged the game-winner in the Portland Timbers3-2 win on Saturday over Minnesota United.

For the Timbers’ target striker, the goal was about more than relief or confidence; it was a step toward the form of years past that has made him the Timbers’ second-leading scorer of all time.

“It has been a long time since I got a goal,” said Adi after training on Wednesday, “so to get a goal is a great motivation for me. I just have to keep working hard and many more will come.”

Since going down with a hamstring injury in August of last year, the road back to the Timbers' starting lineup has been a difficult one for Adi. After being kept off the pitch for the last four months of the 2017 season, Adi made his return to the Timbers with some rust that took several games to knock off.

“I needed to get myself back into top shape,” said Adi, “and of course I knew I was going to score, but I knew that I needed some games to play to bring back my confidence. You know, for most strikers the first one is always a good one, so I just have to keep working hard in training every day and if I do the right things it is going to be a good season.”

Adi’s sentiment is shared by new Timbers head coach Giovanni Saravese, a striker himself during his playing days.

“Getting goals is the energy that the strikers need, and the confidence,” Saravese told the press. “You saw that as soon as [Adi] scored the goal; it was relief. It has been a long time. He got injured last season, didn’t play for a few matches, and it took him a little while to get back into it.

“We see him now: more loose, more comfortable, with a better rhythm. Getting the the goal and almost a second goal -- but for an inch offside, probably -- it was good for Adi.”

Injuries have not been Adi’s only obstacle to returning to form. A new coach and a new system to learn have also forced Adi to change his game in the process. 

“[Saravese] wants us to play faster," Adi said. "He wants everybody to be running. He wants group defending. He is different. Before I usually stayed up front and I did a lot of holding the ball and passing the ball, but now it is a different situation where he wants me to also contribute and run a lot.”

With fellow Designated Player duo Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri playing free roles in the attacking midfield, the service and the opportunities will come for Adi as all three adjust to Saravese’s approach to the game.

“We are trying to get the chemistry going and have good combination plays,” said Adi. “We are going to get there. It is still early in the season, so the more we are playing together and doing the right things, the better.”