Sounders Insider

Portland coach sees Timbers in drivers seat

Here's what Portland coach Caleb Porter had to say after his Timbers opened their aggregate-score series with a 2-1 win in Seattle"

(On the game…) “You can put your hand up the puppet of stats and make them say whatever you want to say, so at the end of the day, we got the win, deserved the win, took our chances well, thought we defended well. They had a little bit more of the ball, but that was a little bit of the game plan we had. We wanted them to have a bit of the ball so we could roast them on counter-attacks and I thought we were very dangerous on the counter all day long and I thought we were organized. They didn’t have very many clear looks outside of balls dumped in, long throw-ins. Obviously they got the goal on the long throw-in at the end, but for us to stop that team on the road with the talent they have and the freedom they’re given to float around, they didn’t get a goal from the run of play, so I think that’s a real positive that we defended well against them. Again, they had some shots from distance. They didn’t have a ton of great looks where they got in behind us, so I thought we were very organized and played a very pragmatic game on the road and at the end of the day it’s a win on the road.” (On Portland’s defense…) “They’ve been great, you know. They’ve been great. I mean, the last nine games now, they’ve been very tight, very organized. We haven’t given up many goals; I think we’ve had six clean sheets. In the playoffs, you have to defend well and we’re defending well and we’re fine in goals also. Ryan Johnson comes in, hasn’t highlighted as much recently and we called his name, put him in, he scored us a goal and worked very hard today. Obviously [Darlington] Nagbe showed what he’s capable of, so we have different guys at different times that step up. We’ve done that all season long. I never know who’s going to score, but I know there’s someone that’s going to score because, again, we’re a team that plays together. We defend as a team, we attack as a team. I thought today, the result was fair.” (On the physicality of the match…) “No, that’s soccer. There’s going to be physicality in a high-level soccer game. I’ve never seen a high-level soccer game where it wasn’t physical. You’ve got two good teams – teams that don’t want to lose – our team refuses to lose, and Seattle’s in our way right now. We want to move on in this tournament and Seattle’s a team that we drew and we’re one step away. We’ve got to obviously have a good performance next game – Thursday at home – but they’ve got to come in our home field and get a piece of us in order to get through, and I like our chances. Obviously we have to play as well as we did this game. We have to be as hungry. We have to fight as hard. We have to be as organized. But we can play better and I know we will play better at home.” (On the goal conceded…) “I mean, again, if you go into the game on the road you want to win if you can, you hope even maybe to get a draw, so again that puts us in the driver’s seat coming back at home and now we’re at home and we’re in a great position. And if we win the game at home, then we’re through. Simple.” (On his decision to start Ryan Johnson…) “We’ve got options up there, good options. Like I’ve said all along, we’re going to pick the guy up top that we think fits the opponent we’re playing and for me it made a lot of sense to go with Ryan Johnson. He’s done well in training. He scored a goal off the bench last game. But more important than that, we felt his strength in the air, his physicality, his ability to hold the ball up, his athleticism, his pace and power was a good matchup against [Jhon Kennedy] Hurtado and [Djimi] Traore. There’s some games where it’s a better matchup for Jose [Valencia] There’s some games it’s a better match-up for [Frederic] Piquionne, and obviously Max Urruti’s been injured, so we feel like we have four very good options and we’ll continue to pick the guys we think fit the game.” (On defending well…) “I think it’s the entire team. We defend from the front. Our front guys are the ones that initiate the pressure, so I think it’s 10 field players and our goalkeeper that deserve credit for us defending well. It doesn’t get to the backline a ton, but when it has recently, our center backs, our outside backs have been really good defending crosses, defending set-pieces and limiting the opponents’ ability to get behind us and really break us down. They had a lot on the ball, but they really didn’t penetrate a ton and I think that’s the key. Mature teams, experienced teams on the road, you have to be able to absorb at times, that’s just tactical football. You’re naïve to think that you’re just going to have the ball and be up the field in the front half for 90 straight minutes, on the road with 60,000 fans, playing a team that’s been in the playoffs the last five years. I think for this team to come in here and to get a result says a lot about how far we’ve come. It says a lot about this team. It says a lot about how seasoned we are even though we’ve not been together very long.” (On the importance of getting the first early goal…) “First goal is always important. We’ve been emphasizing that recently. It’s an important thing to do. If you can get the first goal, usually at the very least you tie or win. Most of the time, you don’t lose, so I think that was crucial and it made them now have to open up. We talked about just being patient, that the second goal was in there if we were patient, which it was – we got the second goal – and in the end, they got a goal, but it doesn’t change a ton.”