Timbers Beat: The land of 1,000 lakes

Defender Justin Thompson reports on the Timbers' second road match last week to the land of 1,000 lakes as Portland battled the Minnesota Thunder to a 1-1 draw. Thompson talks about the travel, the match, and what it is like to be responsible for allowing a goal. Here is his report from the road.
 
Friday Aug. 3 - 10 a.m.
Well we're off to the twin cities for a game against the Minnesota Thunder.  We arrived at the airport at 5 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight to Denver en route to Minnesota.  The time is now 10 a.m. and we are still sitting in the airport, wondering if we will ever leave.  Apparently there was a mechanical problem with the plane and our departure time has been pushed back until at least 1130 a.m.  Hopefully the game tomorrow night goes a lot smoother than our journey so far!
 
Friday Aug. 3 - 11 p.m.
We finally got into Minnesota around 8 p.m. local time after a really long day.  We grabbed a quick dinner and are about to hit the hay.  We know tomorrow's game will not be as easy as it would seem on paper.  The Thunder have been a bogey team this year who are at the bottom of the table, but have produced some great results against the better teams in the league.  They beat Montreal handily at home and tied them on the road.  They play a 3-5-2 system which we haven't seen much this year so it will be a good test for us.  We are going to counteract their formation by playing a 4-3-3, which should shutdown their wingbacks and force them to be pinned in at the back and play more defensively. 
 
Saturday Aug. 4 - 1 p.m.
Tonight's game is massive for the psyche of the team because it will set the tone for the reciprocal game at PGE Park next Thursday, and not to mention, we haven't lost 2 consecutive games all year.   We were bitterly disappointed after our last game against Seattle, not just because we lost, but because of the way we lost.  We didn't do the things that have made us successful all year.  Gavin has built this team on hard work and strong character, which is why it was so disappointing against Seattle, because they out-worked and out-hustled us.  I think we have learned the lesson the hard way and hopefully won't produce another lacklustre performance like that again this year!
 
Sunday Aug. 5 - 9 a.m.
We are on the plane heading home now after a hard fought 1-1 draw in Minnesota.  The wind was howling at the stadium last night; playing against it in the first half caused us problems.  We had our backs to the wall and were on the defensive for most of the first half.  But, we weathered the storm and got through the half with a clean sheet.  We felt confident that with the wind at our backs in the second half, we would go on to win the game and pick up all 3 points.  That confidence was quickly diminished when their striker got away from me in the first few minutes of the second half and beat Wicks at the near post to put them up 1-0.  Speed is not my best asset, so I try to never let myself get isolated in a one vs. one situation.  It is important for players to hold themselves accountable when things go wrong and on this occasion I have to put my hand up. I would be lying if I said I wasn't upset with myself, but part of being a professional is to put these things behind you and try to learn from them.  There was some consolation when Lawrence Olum powered a great header into the top corner of the net off of a set piece from Luke Kreamalmeyer.  We had a number of quality chances to take all 3 points late in the game, but we were forced to settle for a draw. 
 
Our goal is to achieve a minimum of 4 points from the two games against Minnesota and we are on track to do that.  It was wasn't exactly what we wanted, but a point on the road is never a bad result and we are still tied for 1st place in the league with a game in hand.  We will now work hard to prepare for two tough games next weekend and solidify our play-off spot. 
 
Thanks for your support, the guys really appreciate it!  Hope to see you all on Thursday night against the Thunder at PGE Park!
 
Justin