On a wet, smoky, ear-ringing night at Starfire Sports Complex the Portland Timbers beat the Seattle Sounders 2:0 in a Major League Soccer pre-season match. While the outcome isn’t all that important, what happened between the Portland goals is worth examining.
Photographer Rick Morrison shares some great photos from the night in the gallery at left.
The night was all about missed chances for Seattle and heart for Portland. So while the score shouldn’t really worry Sounders fans, the way the match went down could. This talented Sounders side, stacked with goalscorers and what one might even say to be upcoming ‘stars,’ played a pretty listless first half. It was clear the Timbers players had decided this match meant something to them. It was clear they had the bigger hearts.
Think of heart this way: consistent work rate, effort, and a display of desire.
In the second half Seattle arrived, dancing up and down the pitch in wave after wave of attack. Seattle eventually outshot Portland 18-7. There was hopeful play from Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso, among others. Alvaro Fernandez looked dangerous on the right wing.
In the end the Timbers showed heart by hanging on for the shutout. The Sounders gave us cause for concern by continuing to lack the finishing that will be necessary to beat Los Angeles on March 15th.
Kenny Cooper showed heart by playing tough and finishing off the Sounders in the final minutes of the match.
Sounders fans can’t be blamed if they wonder why they didn’t see the same tenacity and follow-through from their big striker, Blaise Nkufo.
This one should sting the pride of Sounders players. It should remind them of how far they have to go on the pitch before the home opener, a match that counts.
The Sounders are veterans in this league compared to most of the Timbers. They know what happens in early March bears little importance to what happens in mid November in the marathon that is the MLS season.
You can’t blame Sounders fans, though, if they have just a bit of worry about heart, grit, mental focus and desire. Timbers players had it. Timbers fans had it. Sounders fans had it. Starfire was alive with it.
So where was it in our players? Where was it in the playoffs against LA in 2010? Where was it last night in the first half against a rival?
POR – Jorge Perlaza 21′
POR – Kenny Cooper 93′
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 5′
SEA – Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 54′
POR – Jack Jewsbury (caution) 69′
Sounders FC Lineup
Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez (Erik Friberg 69), Brad Evans (Pat Noonan 85), Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero (Mike Fucito 80), Blaise Nkufo (O’Brian white 89).
RESERVES: Patrick Ianni, Michael Tetteh, David Estrada, Zach Scott, Servando Carrasco, Taylor Graham, Terry Boss.
TOTAL SHOTS: 18; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; CORNER KICKS: 7; OFFSIDE: 3; FOULS: 6; SAVES: 2.
Portland Timbers Lineup
Troy Perkins, Steve Purdy, Kevin Goldthwaite, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace, Sal Zizzo, Peter Lowry (Adam Moffat 80), Jack Jewsbury, Jeremy Hall, Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Brian Umony 75).
RESERVES: Eddie Johnson, Kalif Alhassan, David Horst, James Marcelin, Jake Gleeson, Ryan Pore, Adin Brown, Chris Taylor, Freddie Braun, Spencer Thompson, Bim Ogunyemi, Rodrigo Lopez, Quavas Kirk, Taylor Mueller, Jake Gibson, Mamadou Danso.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; CORNER KICKS: 2; OFFSIDE: 3; FOULS: 11; SAVES: 4.
Referee: Dave Gantar
Referee’s Assistants: Darren Clark, Cameron Blair
4th Official: Drew Fischer
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: 40-degrees and light rain
Quotes – Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers
Sigi Schmid – Sounders FC Head Coach
(General Comments…) “I thought the second half was better than the first. We created chances, obviously didn’t score, so that’s disappointing. I thought there was one hand ball, sometimes you get those and sometimes you don’t. Really taking the last goal and we gave up on the first goal, and that was a soft goal. That was one we shouldn’t have given up but it is what it is. It’s preseason and we tried to push some guys 90 minutes and we got 90 minutes out of some guys. I think it was a little bit of fatigue for somebody like Kennedy at the end of the game because it has been a long time since he has played 90 minutes. But on the same token, it’s better to build that fitness now then to pull him out of the game and him not feel good. It’s preseason. What’ important is to finish our chances when the season starts so we got to bury chances at practice and bury chances at practice games.”
(On substitutions…) “We could have done more subs. We could have done the whole team if we wanted to. We kind of made the decision we were going to see how the game was going to go. We came out at halftime and said, ‘Let’s see how it goes,’ and I thought we took over control of the game in the second half and their danger came in with counters and so we got some guys more and more minutes to push through the 90, so we got some guys through the 90 – that’s for sure.”
John Spencer – Timbers Head Coach
(General comments…) “The first half I thought we were a bit nervous at times. Then we got a bit confident and started to attack from wide areas. We created a couple of chances and Jorge [Perlaza] taps one in. We had another one coming down the right hand side and we blasted one over the bar near post. I thought we were unfortunate not to go in 2-0, 2-1 at the halftime.”
(On halftime…) “I said to them I thought their shape was excellent. I thought their reaction and desire to get to the ball and win tackles was great. We beat a good team tonight but we can’t get too carried away. We put the work rate and the effort in and this is what you get. I keep telling them time and time again that talent alone is not enough in the modern game. You’ve got to have that desire to get there and win your individual battles, and I thought tonight we’ve done that.”
(On the run of play in second half…) “You can’t dominate games for 90 minutes when you’re playing against quality teams like the Sounders are. They’re a powerful unit and very well coached. We expected them to come out in the first 15 minutes and throw everything they had at us. Again I thought we looked a little bit nervous…I felt at about the 65th minute they’d given us everything that they had, and possibly run out of ideas. I said to the guys on bench if we’re smart and still compete and try to attack from the right areas then I think we’ll win this game. To be fair I think the best team on the night won this game.”