Ebobisse: Portland would be "pleased to knock Seattle out of the playoffs"

Jeremy Ebobisse and the Portland Timbers have one thing on their minds: eliminating rival Seattle Sounders from the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.

As the Timbers gear up from the second leg of their Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday (10:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes, TVAS, TSN), Ebobisse discussed the rivalry and how much it means to every player in the locker room. 

"A lot of the guys are new to the rivalry, but they've learned quickly what this rivalry means to the club, city and the other players on the team," Ebobisee told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. "Whenever we go out there to play Seattle it means a lot more to us. I think it shows with the intensity we play. If we can come out there with a win or even a draw, we'll be really pleased to knock Seattle out of the playoffs."

The Timbers beat the Sounders in the first leg of the series at Providence Park, taking a 2-1 aggregate lead to CenturyLink Field. The Sounders jumped out to a 1-0 lead, a nightmarish start for the Timbers. But Ebobisse leveled the game in the first half with a smart first-time finish and Sebastian Blanco scored the winner just 12 minutes later.

A 2-1 lead, conceding a valuable away goal, isn't ideal for the team, but Ebobisse is more than pleased with the result. 

"Would we have been happier with a clean sheet at home? Obviously. But our goal was to win at home," Ebobisse said. "We got what we consider was a confident win. We thought the game was played on our terms. ... We were able to get most of what we needed out of that home leg and we know it's going to be a big fight at CenturyLink. We'll be ready for the fight."

Ebobisse's equalizer was his fourth goal for the Timbers across all competitions this season, but he has yet to sort a go-to celebration yet. Or any celebration, really. But he doesn't mind if you make fun of him for Sunday's effort-- A backward high-knees to arm flailing to 360 jump combo celly.

"Two months ago I said I hadn't nailed one down yet, today I'm in the same exact position," Ebobisse laughed. "I still haven't figured out to do when I score. To be honest, I'm still not used to scoring these important goals so I definitely let the emotions get the best of me. It might look a little silly but I'm okay with people laughing at dumb celebrations because it means I scored." 

It's all part of learning on the job.

He's been an exponential ascendent over the last two months since he was handed his first start, and just second appearance, of the season. After scoring en route to an important 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Sept. 8, Ebobisse knew, finally without a doubt, that he belonged.

"Throughout the course of the season there were little bits and moments where I felt like I belonged, but, I would say Colorado was a big 'this is it. I've done it,'" Ebobisse said. "I proved to my coach that I can do it in a game that mattered. ... To be able to have delivered, it was a really pleasing moment and something that changed my mindset to that I belong and I have something to offer at this level."

Since? Ebobisse's career has taken off. 

He continued to start the majority of the Timbers' stretch run as well as their first two playoff games while earning US men's national team shouts. 

It's the opportunity he's long been working towards.

"The season has been a roller coaster," Ebobisse said. "Off my rookie year, I definitely had high expectations for myself this year. I didn't quite meet them at the beginning, and definitely had some frustrations, but that goes with any young player's career. I was able to go through to September where I got my opportunity. From that, it's been pretty smooth sailing. For the most part, my performances have been good, so it's a big weight off my shoulders to know that I could actually contribute at this level. It felt like a little bit of vindication for all the pressure and belief I have in myself."

But Ebobisse knows this isn't the peak; he's still scaling the mountain.

"That said, I know I'm not even close to a finished product," Ebobisse assured. "There's a lot more that I need to contribute to the team if I want to hold down the starting position with all the competition that we have and to help propel this team to the Western Conference final and MLS Cup."

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