In their return to Providence Par after three weeks away, the Portland Timbers were able to celebrate with a 1-0 win over local rivals Seattle Sounders in a matchup featuring the Western Conference top teams. Against a Sounders team that threatened the goal frequently, the defense was key in preserving a lead the team had from the 13th minute on.
"The team was solid defensively," Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese said after the match. "We closed all the spaces [in the second half] and I think the first half was a little bit more open. ... It was outstanding so very important three points for us against a good team."
Goalkeeper Steve Clark was key in the victory, making six saves as the Sounders maintained their search for a goal throughout the entire match. It was a group effort, though, particularly in the second half when the Sounders were more frustrated by a strong defensive unit provided by the Timbers.
💪🏻 ⚽️ 🌲 pic.twitter.com/JmV2IclUaJ— Diego Valeri (@DiegoDv8) September 24, 2020
"We’ve been this good for parts of games but tonight we put it all together so I think you saw a total team performance," Clark said. "You do that for 96 minutes, you know we have a very good shot of coming out with three points."
For the Timbers, the win came after what they described as a hard week. The team played three road games in six games during a team the Portland area was dealing with poor air quality because of nearby wildfires. The situation at home meant the team was training indoors whenever they were in Portland.
"It’s extremely difficult to be able to endure in these matches," Savarese said. "You don’t have too much time to be able to work on some areas sometimes and all you think is how can we recover the players."
Clark felt the last week was overall successful because the coaching staff took care of the players both mentally and physically.
"I really want to credit Gio and the coaching staff," Clark said. "They’ve been fantastic, pushed the right buttons, keep us mentally fresh and keep us involved. I think it’s a great job from them. This last week was difficult with coming off the smoke and the road, so I want to give the credit to all of us but certainly the coaches."
In the end, Chara credited his and the group's success to the off the field mood.
"If you were doing a good job outside of the field and everything’s been reflecting now in what we do inside of the field," Chara said.