MLS Cup Playoffs | Quotes: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Timbers head coach Caleb Porter
On what the win means:
“I think it means that we’re three games away and we have two teams in our way. I think if you went in the locker room you’ll see a team that’s happy, but they won’t be truly happy unless we win it all. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We’re not going to think past this next round. Obviously, we have to get to the championship in order to raise a trophy, and we’ve got a difficult team ahead of us in Salt Lake. We’ll keep taking it one at a time, but we’re getting closer. This team genuinely believes that we have a realistic shot at this. It means a lot, but we’re not going to think about what it means until, hopefully, the end.”
On conceding two late goals:
“It’s probably a good thing because it keeps us grounded. It’s a reminder that if you let your guard down in this sport you’ll get punched in the nose. We were clearly in control of that game and it was going away, it could’ve been four [goals], it could’ve been five. Soccer games, I’ve seen it, they turn in a moment. Long throw-in out of nothing ends up turning the game 3-1 and then now you start over-thinking things and getting tentative, and we gave up the next goal. To our credit, we didn’t give a goal up from that point forward; some teams would’ve crumbled and unraveled. For me, it was probably a good thing because it’s a wakeup call and it keeps us grounded. We don’t leave this game feeling invincible, bulletproof at 3-0, we leave the game happy because we won, but we also leave the game more grounded. It’s a reminder that we have to stay focused.”
On the aggressive start:
“That was the plan all along. On the road, we were OK with them having the ball and hitting them on counters. Tonight, it was a different story. At home, we want to run the opponent over. I thought we did that for good periods of tonight. Our pressure was as good as I’ve seen out of this group all season. When we had it going I thought we were very relentless, really gave them a lot of trouble and turned them over. I thought our combination play at times, our ability to control the game with possession at times, our ruthlessness getting to goal was very good. We should’ve had more goals. The coach in me is going to look at the tape and say we should’ve scored five, six goals, but they also had a few [chances] as well. In the end we were the better team and deserved to move on in the series, but I thought it was some of the best stuff of the year from our team on both sides of the ball. I think there’s still more in this team, so that’s what’s scary.”
On preparing for a quick turnaround:
“You’ve got to be ahead of it. We were prepared. We weren’t looking past this game. I just told the guys the plan. We’ll get them turned around quickly tomorrow, we’ll train on Saturday and get on a charter Saturday after training, and we’ll get to Salt Lake then it’s just the normal rhythm. With the two-game series, we exerted some energy, but we were also able to conserve quite a bit in the tank. Salt Lake is in the same situation as us. Would you like to have a week off? Yeah. These are important games at the end of the year; of course we’d like to have a week off. It’s kind of a strange schedule, but it is what it is. Salt Lake is in the same situation as us.”
On if there’s extra meaning beating a rival:
“I think so. It means probably more to the supporters. That’s three games in a row that we’ve beaten Seattle, that’s difficult to do. I was a bit worried about that. It’s not easy to beat a team three times in a row. We were able to do that, and I think it’s a real credit to how hungry our team is right now. They are on a mission. The best thing I can do is stay out of the way, and I tried to do that tonight. I wanted to just release them and let them go. Getting to 3-0, there was some quality stuff that we put together as a team.”
On the rivalry against Seattle:
“I’m so locked in right now. Obviously, the rivalry is big and it means a lot to our supporters. I understand that there is a rivalry. I understand that our fans want to beat Seattle. I’ll always want to beat everybody. But I think when we can bring a little extra meaning and joy by beating a team that our supporters dislike so much, I think it’s extra special. In the end, they’re the team we drew, they were in our way. Salt Lake is now in our way. It doesn’t matter who it is, we’re not going to want to lose to them and we’re going to do everything we can to move on.”
On matching up against Real Salt Lake:
“I think we match up well. The nice thing is that we played Seattle and they play a diamond. So we’re really in a rhythm playing basically a similar system. I think that’s a real key in a quick turnaround. There’s not a ton of tactical changes that we’re going to have to make. A lot of the same things we will want to exploit against Salt Lake are things we wanted to exploit against Seattle. I think our guys will also have a lot of confidence knowing we just faced a really talented team in Seattle playing a diamond and now we go face another really talented team playing a diamond. The last time we played Salt Lake, I thought we played very well against them. It was a 0-0 draw, it wasn’t a win, but I don’t think they had a shot on goal. I think that was a real positive performance. Now we just need to get the attack cranked up versus them.”
On getting the most out of players:
“Just trust them. Let them go. Define their role, but let them express themselves. Let them be who they are. I think if you put your team together the right way, you have guys in positions where they are doing what they do well.”
On if he was surprised by the three goals:
“No, we’re capable of that. We’ve showed that this year. We had it clicking. We’ve got to keep it going. We’re in a great zone; that’s 10 games unbeaten. At home, we’re playing well. On the road, we’re playing well, too. We’ve just got to keep it going. This is what you hope to have happen with your team – you’re in a run of form at the end of the year and it just starts to grow and build and the confidence grows. These guys are in a great spot right now, so we’ve just got to keep going.”
Timbers midfielder Will Johnson
On putting early pressure on Seattle:
“It was important mentality-wise. It could be easy to get into that bunker-mode early, but we didn’t. It’s one thing to say it and another to do it. We’re happy we were able to execute. I thought some of the stuff we played and chances we created in the first half was excellent and we were rewarded with two good goals.”
On if there was any question after conceding two goals in the second half:
“No, I don’t think so. The two goals, it’s something that grounds us a little bit. If you walk out of there winning that game 3-0, maybe it can get away from you a little bit. We’re locked in, we’re in the zone, and we know that if we switch off even for a second, especially even on our home field, we can give up two goals just like that. Two goals against good team can often knock you out of a tournament.”
On knocking out Seattle:
“The Seattle thing is more for the fans, obviously we’ve bought into it as well. We want to beat them as much as anybody. We’re so focused on advancing and just getting to the next round, if we drew Seattle so what, if it was Colorado, so be it. It means a great deal to our fans I’m sure. We want to do right by them. We’re happy that they can trash talk their rival fan base. I think that’s pretty cool. For us, it’s just another team that was in our way. We had to take care of business and move on to the next round.”
On facing Real Salt Lake in the next round:
“For me, the record in the playoffs is even. We’ve never played them in the playoffs so I think it’s a totally different game. Whatever the regular-season statistics are, they are what they are, but this is the playoffs now so it’s a brand new slate.”
Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri
On scoring a goal and the result:
“I was happy for the goal, but I’m very happy for the team because we deserved that. We are working so hard for that and we are in a very good moment. We will work more to be champions.”
On Seattle’s physical game plan:
“Everybody wants to win and it’s a hard game. The two games were very hard. Today there were some tackles, but that’s normal and I don’t worry about that. I’m happy for the win.”
On the difference between the first and second leg against Seattle:
“The difference was that we had more of the ball, the possession, in the first half. I think the first half was the best first half of the year. We had a lot of chances, we scored two goals against Seattle in the playoffs and that’s tremendous. I think that was the difference. We were motivated about playing at home.”
Timbers defender Futty Danso
On the team’s mindset:
“We want to go all the way. We want to win MLS Cup. We don’t want to celebrate just beating Seattle, it’s the semifinals. We’ll be happy, you cannot take that from the boys, but we don’t want to be too happy like it’s the end of the season.”
On eliminating Seattle:
“Whenever you win against your rival, regular season or playoffs, it’s always bigger. The scene around this, playoff semifinals and a win against Seattle that helps end their season feels pretty good.”
On being the aggressors in the match:
“We definitely came out to win. It was the same game plan when we went to Seattle. We want to win every game going forward.”
Seattle Sounders FC Quotes
Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid
On the team’s performance tonight:
“I thought tonight we got outplayed in the first half. We didn't play well in the first half. I thought they closed us down, put pressure on us, we didn't play forward. I thought we lost the game in the midfield. In the second half, when we switched into a 3-5-2, I thought it was better. You know, we started to get some things, but we can't give up that goal right in the beginning of the half and we got two back. But overall, I think they were a better team than us tonight.”
On the effect of Portland’s penalty kick goal:
“It was a deflating goal because we were dodging a few bullets. It wasn't that we were playing well at that point. They were putting pressure on us, but it was a hand ball that was on the edge of the 18, it wasn't going anywhere. It looked like the referee wasn't going to call it, then the linesman decided to call it for him. I thought it was a hard call, not was it a handball or not, it was a handball, but it seemed like a harsh call."
On a disappointing end to the season:
"It's disappointing, but when you're adding people during the season it's sometimes tough. Being able to play as a team is something that we have to become better at. In terms of that unselfish running for people at times is something we have to become better at as well, and that's something that we'll improve upon and be better at next season because that was one of the keys for us and with the changes in the lineup game in and game out. We were never able to build upon that and never be able to get the roles down. The roles for people were changing and the roles for people today in the game changed; all that makes it tough."
Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans
On keys to the match and result:
"Key moments against good teams in the first half, and keeping the ball in good positions and one, two missed passes against a good counter-attacking team and they're gonna put it down your throat. What I saw in the game was a couple missed passes and then they're turned and then we're turned and then we're kind of chasing at that point. Against a good team, they're gonna to make you pay and they did twice. And then the tactics kind of get thrown out the window and we're chasing at that point."
On the point in the game where it started to get away:
‘Like I said, a couple key moments in the first half, and they punish us. Against a good team at home, it's going to be difficult to claw back. In saying that, we pulled two goals back in the second half and maybe if we don't concede that third one, I think that we probably get a third one and we make it really interesting. But, one goal shy again and that seems to be the lifeline over the past couple years, just one goal."
Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson
Thoughts on the team’s performance:
"It's just when you play with confidence, when everyone wants the ball, you can't wait to play a team like Portland that's very good at home. That's one of the best teams in the league, and to put yourself down three goals and then you wake up and want to play … No, you got to play like that from minute one to minute 90 and we didn't want to play. We put our backs against wall and that doesn't work at this level."
On the team’s offense and finding space:
"First of all, to run off space, we got to have guys get on the ball for our strikers to find space. If the game becomes very direct, we're playing into their strengths and that's what [the Timbers] want. They want the ball to myself, or to [Clint Dempsey], in the air. That suits them. But if we can get guys on the ball and have guys that are confident on the ball and play through the middle and then we can get slipped five- or 10-yard balls, then it's easier for them to get their back four disjointed. We weren't able to do that tonight and that's why they were successful."
On changes to the lineup:
"Whoever is out there, there's enough experience up top to score goals – bottom line. We've got enough quality up top to score goals. In a big game like this, guys just got to step up and score goals.”
The Timbers defeated Sounders FC 5-3 on aggregate to advance to the Western Conference Championship. Portland is the first club since Real Salt Lake in 2008 to advance to the conference championship round in its MLS Cup Playoffs debut.
The Timbers, unbeaten in their last 10 games between the regular season and playoffs, were the only club playing in the conference semifinal round to win both matches of the two-game series.
The Timbers’ five aggregate goals against Sounders FC matches the MLS mark for most goals scored in a conference semifinal series since MLS adopted the home-and-away format for the round in 2003. The mark was first achieved by the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals in a 5-1 aggregate win over the LA Galaxy.
Portland’s five goals against Seattle in the Western Conference Semifinals were all scored by different players each scoring their first career MLS Cup Playoff goals.
The Timbers have scored the opening goal in seven of their last eight games between the regular season and playoffs. The club is 14-0-6 through the 2013 regular season and playoffs when scoring the first goal of the match.
The two goals by Sounders FC were the first scored against the Timbers at JELD-WEN Field since Aug. 21 against Real Salt Lake.
Portland’s defense conceded just three shots on goal. Only three times in their last 10 matches (since Sept. 7) have the Timbers allowed an opponent more than three shots on goal in a match.
- Futty Danso became the first Timbers defender to tally a goal for the club in the MLS Cup Playoffs.