Quotes & Notes - Portland Timbers: 3, Colorado Rapids: 0 - June 23, 2013

Donovan Ricketts has four straight clean sheets & a Timbers record 396 minute shutout streak

Quotes: Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter
Overall thoughts on the match:
“That was a very professional performance today. We’re pleased, 17 games in, to be where we are at the top of the table. But we’re only halfway through. It feels great, but as I told the guys, we’ve got a long way to go. What’s scary about this team is that we’re just scratching the surface of what the team can be. There were a lot of things today, even though it was 3-0, where we can be better. We’ll continue to look at those things and we won’t just assume that because we’re getting wins that everything will be perfect. We want to keep growing as a team and we’re capable of still getting better in several areas. 

On the team’s play through a busy stretch:
”I’m pleased with how we’ve managed this tough stretch. It wasn’t just the guys that started the game or came off the bench today, it was truly a team effort. It took different guys in different games and they managed it tremendously. We’re in a good spot in the league. We’ll move to the Open Cup on Wednesday, that’s very important to us and we’re going to go all-in there to try and get the result on the road. It’s not going to be easy at Dallas, they haven’t lost there. If we play like we did tonight, I like our chances.”

On if being at the top of the table is an important benchmark:
“I think this team believes that they’re one of the best teams in the league. When I looked in their eyes after the game today, they’re happy but it looked like they expected it. I think that shows that we have a realistic belief in this club that we can be a realistic contender to compete for trophies here. I don’t know about benchmarks, but we’re moving in the right direction and the biggest thing is that locker room believes that we can be one of the better teams in the league.”

On playing more direct against the Rapids:
“I think it was just a different club in our bag that we had with Freddie [Piquionne] in the game. We worked on it in training. He’s one of the best guys in the air that I’ve coached and his ability to flick balls on is incredible. We worked on it a bit. There’s going to be times where we’re going to have to go direct. I don’t know if today necessarily went more direct than we have in other games. We’ve had to go big in other games, it depends on if the other team is pressing us. When we do have to go big, it’s nice to have that dimension. And Ryan Johnson brings it to the table as well. We worked on it, running off Freddie and the flick and I think we created a couple goals that way.”

On if the team’s success changes the perspective within the group:
“I don’t think anybody is thinking about anything other than getting points. It’s funny because there have been a lot of games where we’ve been unhappy even though we haven’t lost. I think that helps to keep the group grounded and pushing. We don’t think we have it figured out. We’re not where we want to be at this point. This group understands that it takes 34 games to accomplish what we need to. Like I’ve said from Day 1, highs low, lows high, move on, file it away. If there are things to correct, correct them, but we’re not going to panic or abandon what we’re doing if we fall short. If we win we’re not going to think everything is perfect, we’re going to keep pushing and keep staying hungry and keep staying humble as well.”

Timbers midfielder Will Johnson
On scoring his sixth goal of the season:
“When the ball hits the back of the net, it’s a great feeling, especially in a game like this where your team needs to win. The thing that gets me excited is scoring a goal for my teammates and having them all come over and congratulate me, it’s a special feeling with this group of guys.”

On reaching the top of the standings at the halfway point of the season:
“It’s good. It gets even tougher now. No more flying under the radar, we’ve made too many statements. People know we’re a good team and we’re going to get everybody’s best shot now. We’ve got to be ready for it.”

On the team’s exceptional defense at home:
“Defenders, the goalkeeper, they never get enough credit. They’ve been fantastic. I think Caleb mentioned it during the week, we’re slowly turning into a very good defensive team and soccer is a funny game. Defensively, we’ve been excellent. Those four or five guys with Mikey [Harrington], who I’ve been apologizing non-stop for injuring him last week, have been fantastic and I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

On Rodney Wallace’s performance:
“Talented guy, having a breakout year; humble kid. He found a position there on the left and has taken advantage of every opportunity. I think it goes without saying that we’re a better team when Rodney is on the field.”

On the team’s busy stretch of games:
“It’s tough. I think today throughout the game we weren’t as sharp as we normally are, especially at home. In the second half, we just did enough to win the game and keep going. We just weren’t sharp enough. I said before the stretch that we’re either going to be competing for first place or right at the red line, looking up, looking down. It’s a credit to the group that we’re fighting for first place and we’re nowhere near satisfied.”

Timbers forward Rodney Wallace
On rejoining the team after being way on international duty:
“It feels good. It feels good to be part of a winning team. A team with a lot of drive and a team that wants to keep going forward.”

On being able to step right back in and record three assists:
“I think it’s just confidence and feeding off the guys around you. I think we have a great team with a bunch of players, who make it easy for you to go out there and play a good game. I think that everybody on the team is playing on cue right now and just feeding off each other.”

On being in first place midway through the season:
“That was one of our goals and I think that as the season went on we realized we had the potential to be a first-place team and contend for the Supporters’ Shield. We’re happy to be where we are right now, but we’re not content.”

On how much head coach Caleb Porter has been a factor in the team’s success:
“He’s been a huge factor in the way we play and our mentality. He’s an attack-minded coach, at the same time we worry a lot about our defensive shape – not only with the back four, but with the team – and that helps us a lot.”

Colorado Rapids Quotes

Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja
On the match overall:
“I thought it was a very competitive match for us. We just played a team that was effective. I think that every time they stuck one in the box, they put one in the back of the net.”

On how the Timbers’ offensive efficiency affected them:
“At the end of the day, we have to be able to score goals, because if we don’t, when you play a team like Portland that takes six shots and scores three goals, you’re not going to compete against that.”

On the effect of Will Johnson’s goal right before halftime:
“To have a performance like we had and then suddenly go to the locker room and we were losing 2-0, it was painful. But in the end, though, what you deserve doesn’t matter in this game.”

On the youth along the Rapids’ backline, which included the first MLS start for defender German Mera:
“The youth could have had an effect for sure, but I think German [Mera] did a good job. I think he came into the game today and showed a lot of personality, so certainly he is going to help us.”

Rapids midfielder Dillon Powers
On the Timbers’ efficiency:
“It was pretty frustrating, because we did feel like we had some good periods of play. I think a lot of it is just the little things, doing the little things right. We fell asleep a few times today, and they punished us.”

On the team’s mental focus, playing their third game in eight days:
“I think a lot of it was mental. Maybe that does come with the amount of games in this span of time, but just tuning out here and there cost us, and it can ruin a good performance like it did today.”

On his first time playing in front of the Portland crowd:
“I think it’s a fantastic atmosphere. As a player, this is what you love to play for. I’m sure it works to their advantage a little bit. Obviously, any time you’re playing at home in front of a crowd that’s very passionate it is very special.”

Rapids defender Drew Moor
On playing well at times against the Timbers, despite the loss:
“I feel like I’m starting to sound like a broken record, especially over the last couple of games, but we played very well at times. We started well in the first 10 minutes before their first goal, but eventually it can’t just be about playing well, we’ve got to get results, we’ve got to win games like this.

“It’s okay sometimes to not play well, but to still get results, which is something we did at times earlier in the year. We didn’t always play well, but we got results and I think that’s what it was about today. Yeah, we played well at times, but at the end of the day, we probably just got beat by a team that was better today.”

On the Rapids’ defensive effort:
“We can’t be giving up three goals on three shots [on goal]. It’s down to the entire team as a unit. As a leader of the defense, I’m frustrated with it, but we got to try and put it behind us because it doesn’t get any easier from here for us.”

On the team’s need to regroup following three straight losses:
“We’ve got to stay together right now. This is a tough time for us, but it happens to every team at some point in every season. We have to stick together. We have to try and put this behind us and learn from some of the mistakes we’ve made. We’ve got to grow together. We are a tight-knit group. We do everything we can to win games and it’s important that we don’t let this get turned into something worse. We’ve got to regroup and look to our next game at Montreal on Saturday night.”

Notes:

  • The Timbers reached the midway point in the 2013 MLS regular season, playing their 17th match.
     
  • The Timbers (7-1-9, 30pts) and Real Salt Lake (9-5-3, 30pts) are tied for MLS’s best record at 30 points; the Montreal Impact and FC Dallas are close behind with 29 points each.
     
  • Portland extended its MLS-best unbeaten run to 15 matches with the victory over the Rapids, which his tied for the fourth-longest in MLS history. The LA Galaxy assembled 15-match unbeaten streaks on two occasions, spanning the 1997-98 and 2009-10 seasons.
     
  • Timbers head coach Caleb Porter owns the longest unbeaten streak by a first-year MLS head coach in the history of the league at 15 games.
     
  • The Timbers have the fewest losses in MLS this season (1) and are the only MLS club that has yet to lose to a conference opponent this season. Portland is 4-0-6 against clubs from the Western Conference.
     
  • The Timbers improve to 2-4-1 in the all-time MLS series against the Rapids, including a 1-0-1 mark in 2013. Between the two clubs, only Portland’s Jack Jewsbury has played in all seven matches of the all-time series.
     
  • With three goals against the Rapids, the Timbers have scored an MLS-best 28 goals this season.
     
  • Portland improves to 6-0-3 this season when scoring the first goal of the match.
     
  • The Timbers defense recorded their eighth shutout of the season and has not conceded a goal in six consecutive league matches at JELD-WEN Field, a span of 570 minutes. The last goal allowed by Portland was in the 60th minute against Montreal on March 9.
     
  • Portland has recorded three consecutive clean sheets and held opponents scoreless in five of their last seven league games.
     
  • Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts had recorded four straight shutouts – a Timbers MLS record. He has an individual shutout streak of 396 minutes (May 18-25; June 15-current), which is the third-longest in MLS this season, beating out his 312-minute shutout streak from March 30-April 21. Ricketts missed the Timbers’ June 8 match at Chicago while on international duty.
     
  • Ricketts’ 396-minute shutout streak is a new Timbers MLS record, surpassing the previous mark of 376 minutes set by Troy Perkins April 21-May 20, 2012.
     
  • Forward Frederic Piquionne’s goal in the first half was his first MLS goal and the Timbers 100th goal as an MLS side. Coming in the 12th minute, it was also the quickest goal scored by the Timbers in league play in 2013. He also delivered the club’s quickest goal across all competitions this season, finding the back of the net in the second minute on May 29 in U.S. Open Cup play.
     
  • With a goal and an assist in the first half, Piquionne has recorded five goals and five assists over his last seven matches across all competitions since May 25.
     
  • Portland’s Rodney Wallace returned to the Starting XI on Sunday after rejoining the club Wednesday from international duty with Costa Rica. Wallace missed three matches (June 8-19) while with Costa Rica for recent 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
     
  • Wallace became the first Timbers MLS player to record three assists in a single match, and leads the team with five assists on the season.
     
  • Defender Jack Jewsbury surpassed 20,000 minutes played in his MLS career on Sunday, and ranks among the all-time active league leaders in minutes played.
     
  • Midfielder Will Johnson recorded a goal and an assist in the first half and is the Timbers’ leading scorer with six goals. With two goals in a 2-2 draw against the Rapids on March 30, he has scored three of his five career goals against the Rapids this season.
     
  • Forward Ryan Johnson tallied his fifth goal of the season in the match against the Rapids; it was his first goal since April 27 at Sporting Kansas City. Johnson’s strike was the Timbers’ 20th second-half goal, which leads MLS.
     
  • Defender Ryan Miller made a second consecutive start on Sunday, playing right back; it was his fourth regular-season start.
     
  • Defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste made his 20th career MLS appearance on Sunday starting against the Rapids. Also, midfielder Ben Zemanski made his 85th career MLS appearance, entering as a sub in the second half.