Nsien: We're going to play hard

Defender Michael Nsien has jumped back into the first team after a partial MCL tear forced him to miss 11 matches. However, he is scheduled to miss Thursday’s match against the Montreal Impact after receiving a one-match suspension for too many yellow cards.

The Tulsa, Okla., native is glad to be playing again, though, and he hopes the team can finish the season on a high note.

“Over these last couple games, we’ve shown that we’re good and that we can play, but it’s important that we finish out the season strong. For me, that’s what it’s about: finishing strong, playing competitively, and climbing as far up the standings as we can.”

“As a team, we’ve been encouraged by the way we’ve been playing and the results we’ve achieved, so it feels a bit like the pressure’s off, actually. The morale of the team is very high right now, despite where we are in the league, and we’re going to go out there, have fun and play hard.”

Nsien and the rest of the Timbers have collected shutouts in two consecutive matches, beating the Virginia Beach Mariners 1-0 on Aug. 10 and shutting down the Puerto Rico Islanders 3-0 on Aug. 18. Nsien thinks a good goalkeeper and a slight formation change has helped secure those wins.

“We’re still playing a 4-4-2 formation, but we’re giving our outside backs more freedom, which means Jacobi (Goodfellow) and I need to be more disciplined in the center. There’s a lot of responsibility in the center-back position.”

”Bayard has come in and brought a lot of energy, and he’s pushed Josh for the starting goalkeeper position. They’re both really good keepers and they push each other every day in practice, so both of them have my confidence when they’re behind me.”

With only three matches remaining this season, talk has already begun of what awaits the players in the offseason. Nsien plans to have some additional tests run on his injured knee, but beyond that, anything’s possible.

“I have to get my knee scoped, because I tore my meniscus as well as my MCL back in June against Seattle. So, I’m going to get that done, get my fitness back, then after that, maybe get into a preseason team with the MLS and see what happens. But I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back to Portland next season also, so we’ll see.”