Quotes & Notes | Portland Timbers 1, Chicago Fire 1 - Mar. 16, 2014

Darlington Nagbe started his 50th straight match for Portland

Portland Timbers Quotes

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter
On the team’s performance: 
“The positives are we’ve come from behind to get a point in both games. Also, in the second half, we’ve played very well both games. Both games, we dominated the game in terms of possession. We had more shots in both games. We’ve come from behind both games. That’s another positive trend. A negative trend is we’ve started slow. We’ve given up the early goal both games. And, for me, we still need to be a little bit tougher defensively, at times, and more clinical in the box. 

“For whatever reason in the first half we were a bit lethargic. On counters, I thought the back line could have dealt with it a little bit better. They were running Alex underneath, almost like a second striker and getting him in, and [Quincy] Amarikwa in the seams. What we talked about at halftime was the outside backs have to get connected to help the center backs on those two guys. I thought in the second half it was much better. Also, just in general, our ball-winning and tenacity, we need to continue to be a team that’s tough to play against with and without the ball. 

“We’re getting into good positions. We had more shots and shots on frame in this game than we did the last game. I thought we were even a bit better in the final third this game than last game. We had better chances in this game, but still need to finish better. No doubt we will.”

On the team’s defense, which hasn’t given up a goal yet this season in the run of play:
“I think it’s partly because we defend as a team. I think the natural thing is to always credit the backs and the goalkeeper for that and they’re a big part for sure, but I think it’s also the defending as a team, the collective defending is the biggest reason why we don’t give up many goals, and the other reason is because we’re on the ball a lot. I think this game we had 64 percent possession, so that’s 64 percent of the time you’re not defending. These are all reasons why I believe in the philosophy that we play.”

On the play of Gastón Fernández, who scored in a second straight match:
“Gastón Fernández is a quality player, and a lot of people are forgetting that he’s just been in this country for a couple months. It takes guys time to settle in and get comfortable in this league, and I thought for large periods of this game, he took the game over and was one of the better players on the field. He deserved to score the goal. He’s one of these guys who gets himself into good spots. He’s not the biggest, but he’s smart. He gets himself around the goal, and with goal scorers, the ball seems to find them, and that’s twice now where the ball has found him in good spots for two tap-in goals.”

On the team’s start to the regular season:
“It reminds me a little bit of last year, and we’re even ahead of last year; we lost [the second] game last year. It took us a while to get going, and we had slow starts to games, at times, last year. But we’re playing well. That, for me, is the biggest positive. If we were the team that had less possession and fewer shots, I’d be worried because those are things that are much tougher to change. Those are trends that are tougher to address, but there are some trends that we need to address still.”

On the team’s set-piece defending:
“We didn’t give up a set piece today. I know some of you guys call PKs set pieces, but it’s really not, it’s a penalty kick. We didn’t give up a goal on a corner or a wide free kick so I feel good about that. They had a lot of balls in the box between corners and free kicks, and we didn’t give up a goal on those. It is a positive to see an improvement in that regard.”

Timbers defender Michael Harrington
On the team’s performance: 
“We’re very happy with our second half today. Not so much the first half. We felt like we were very dominant, we had a lot of chances. Felt like we were really close to getting the second one. That speaks to our character and our team spirit to be able to come back from those deficits and, obviously, to show that even when we’re not at our best, we’re still very tough to beat.”

Thoughts on the result: 
“We’ve had two home games now and we didn’t get three points in either one of them. We expect better from ourselves here. But we’ll continue pushing in a positive way.”

On making adjustments for the next game: 
“I think it’s more in the habits that you create and what you’re bringing to the game. If you’re dominating the game, then those chances will come. Like in the second half, we had so many chances and eventually you’re going to score. We just want to focus on everybody doing their job, playing better as a team and that’ll translate into wins.”

Timbers midfielder Steve Zakuani
On coming into match:
“I’m coming into the game when the team is chasing the game. It’s more to do with the fact that we’re really pushing them. We can’t afford to lose those kinds of games. We’ve managed to put pressure on teams and eventually find a goal. I happened to be on the pitch at that time because I’m being brought on to help the team to do that. I think it’s a collective mentality that we’re going to keep fighting until the end, trying to find the goals to win the game and so far it’s been falling short; we’ve only tied the game. We’ve created a lot, a lot of chances and if we keep doing that, those draws will turn into wins.”

On fighting back to earn a draw: 
“As I’ve said before, I don’t think we’re panicking, we’re just disappointed because we expect more. We know we can do more. It’s a very, very strong league MLS and you want to get on a winning run at some point. Two games in, two points, should have been six, we hope, and so with that we’re disappointed. But, at the same time, we’ve shown the mentality that we’re not going to lie down and just lose games. We have got to keep fighting. We had some chances today that we should have put away and once we start doing that, you’ll see those one points turn into three points and then slowly we’ll start to find the results we’re looking for.”

Overall thoughts on the match: 
“If I was standing here and we tied the game 1-1 and we felt lucky to have tied 1-1, it’s a whole different story if we had been outplayed by Chicago. But that’s not the case. We had 21 shots. We had a lot of shots last week, too. The fact is that we’re producing those opportunities and now it is down to us to put them away. We’re not putting them away and that’s the issue. At least we’re making the chances and that’s a very big positive. We have to learn that teams are going to come to this stadium and give their best effort and try not to lose. We’re seeing that already in the past couple weeks. We have to get better and we have to be more creative and we have to be a bit more ruthless and score the goals we need to score at this point.”

Chicago Fire Quotes

Fire Head Coach Frank Yallop
Overall reaction on the result: 
“Well, good to get a point, our first point this season. I thought we played very well in the first half; could have maybe been two-up, but that’s football. You’ve got to take your chances, but, in the end, with what happened in the match, getting the red card and under a lot of pressure at the end, I think we did well to hold onto the point. Had a couple chances real late to maybe win it, so all-in-all happy with the performance of the team and, obviously, not overly pleased we didn’t get three points, but it’s a start for us. We’re building for the future.”

On the line-up changes from last week’s match against Chivas USA:
“Just wanted to freshen it up. I thought it wasn’t good enough last week when we played at Chivas [USA]. I thought we performed very well today. [Harrison] Shipp had his first game, was great. Benji Joya had a start as well. Matt Watson, who I picked up from Vancouver, had a tremendous game today. I had Quincy [Amarikwa] up top and I thought Quincy was a real handful all game. He’s doing well, he works hard at his game, and those guys did really well today and I was happy.”

On the team’s performance: 
“The response today was excellent. I thought our character was strong, we didn’t buckle, we kept going. That’s the sign of a good team, so hopefully that’s the sign for us moving forward. We don’t really have any natural wingers and I think Portland’s strength is down the middle. Once they get themselves dipped inside they’re very good in those underneath positions, underneath the back four and [Darlington] Nagbe coming off the line and stuff like that. So tactically we plugged the middle and I think we did a great job of that. Nicking balls and then broke on them a few times. Maybe could have punished them a bit better in the first half, but still our game plan worked. I thought we nullified a lot of the play, especially the first 60 minutes. Again, it was a good performance by us and I’m proud of the guys and proud of the way they handled themselves today.”

Thoughts on the red card for Nyarko:
“To be honest, I’d have to look at it again. But you have to make sure that’s worthy of a second yellow. I thought the first one, Nagbe had already played it, why didn’t he just play on or give a foul and not a yellow? The second one, it was right in front us. Patrick [Nyarko] was on the other side, so I couldn’t really see, but again it’s got to be worthy of the foul. I can’t really comment until I see it.”

Fire midfielder Matt Watson
On his first start in his first game with the Fire:
“It’s obviously good to get into the team. Obviously, I’ve got a lot to learn about how [Chicago] play and things like that. All the guys have been really welcoming since I’ve been here. We’ve come to Portland and to get a hard-fought point is good, but it’s disappointing we couldn’t get three.”

On Chicago’s performance
“I think we just need to clean up on small things. You can see the fight is there, things like that. All the basic fundamental things are there, but we need to just maybe relax a little bit on the ball; just play. If we can just take a step back, relax, play, we’ll be great this year. We’ve got some great guys. [Quincy] Amarikwa was fighting for every ball. When you see that, it just inspires you to play and get behind him and push up, things like that. If we clean up on the small things we’ll be great.”

Fire midfielder Harrison Shipp
On Chicago’s tactical approach to Portland:
“We had a lot of changes from the lineup last week, so I think our first and foremost responsibility was getting those good spots defensively. I think Lovel [Palmer] on the right, Gonzalo [Segares] on the left really did a good job talking to the outside mids in terms of cutting off those interior passes because obviously that’s what Portland likes to do first is find those guys in the seams. So I think, kind of forcing them wide, we were able to do that and kept them from being extremely dangerous.”

On Chicago’s performance:
“Quincy did a great job drawing the penalty kick first. I think we came out confident. We didn’t want to be shy. We felt like we didn’t come out with as much energy as we would have liked to last week, so we really wanted to change that this week. Then giving up the goal wasn’t what we wanted, but I think we responded pretty well. We had a couple good chances after we gave up that goal to actually steal the game and win 2-1. So overall I think we responded pretty well to giving up the goal.”

Notes:.

  • Midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe started his 50th straight match for Portland. The fourth-year veteran has appeared in 69 of the team’s last 70 games since the start of the 2012 MLS season. He is the club’s all-time MLS career leader in appearances (97).
     
  • Midfielder Will Johnson made the 150th appearance of his MLS career on Sunday against the Fire.
     
  • Defender Jack Jewsbury moved into 42nd place on the all-time MLS career minutes played list (21,245 minutes), surpassing former U.S. Men’s National Team standout Jeff Agoos.
     
  • Portland’s 21 shots against the Fire were one short of tying the club’s MLS single-game record (22), set in 2011.
     
  • According to Opta, Portland ranked among the top five teams in the league in both possession (64.3) and passing accuracy (81.1 percent) during Week 2 of the regular season.
     
  • As of Sunday afternoon, the Timbers were the second-most fouled team in MLS this week, suffering 21 fouls against Chicago. Only Seattle (25) suffered more fouls in the second week of regular-season play.
     
  • Midfielder Diego Valeri matched a Timbers MLS single-game record with three shots on goal and was one short of tying the team’s MLS single-game record for total shots (7).
     
  • Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made three saves in the match, including a diving stop on a header from Chicago defender Bakary Soumare in the second minute of second-half stoppage time.
     
  • The Timbers improved their all-time record against Chicago to 3-0-2 with the draw.
     
  • Portland is 2-0-3 in its last five regular-season home games against teams from the Eastern Conference.
     
  • The Timbers wore their new, secondary Rose City Red kits for the first time on Sunday against the Fire.