BEAVERTON, Ore. – Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said his team was ready to play Real Salt Lake again as soon as the final whistle blew on their 4-2 loss on Sunday in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship at Rio Tinto Stadium.
That obviously can’t take place until Nov. 24 at JELD-WEN Field (6 pm PT, ESPN, 750 The Game). So what’s a frustrated team to do with two weeks in between the two games?
“We just wanted to blow off a little steam,” said Porter, addressing the media Wednesday after the team’s first training session since the loss that featured mostly short-sided scrimmages and ended with no players made available for interviews.
While a stoppage-time goal from Frederic Piquionne gave the Timbers a lifeline against RSL, there’s no question the Timbers have a lot of work to do to turn the tide on the two-game series after their 4-2 loss in the first leg last weekend.
But this isn’t a week to dwell on past failures, Porter said.
“As a player, if I was showing up today, I would just want to play and maybe not so much think about the game, which is so far away right now,” he said. “I’d want to just play, blow off a little steam, compete a little bit, get a sweat in, and that’s basically what we did today.”
WATCH: Porter speaks out on RSL loss
And despite the monumental task ahead of them, Porter said the mood is good. Perhaps that’s due to the Timbers' history this season of being a very lethal side, especially at home.
And the fact that they’ve overcome a two-goal deficit twice this year; against Supporters’ Shield champion New York Red Bulls in a season-opening 3-3 tie March 3 at JELD-WEN and in a 2-2 tie at the Colorado Rapids on March 30.
Of course, those were ties, and Portland will need a two-goal advantage after 90 minutes to at least send the game to extra time.
Porter also pointed to the fact that his team has scored two goals or more at home eight times this year and have won by more than two goals twice this year.
It’s all evidence that has Porter “strangely excited about the way this has played out,” he said.
“We’re capable of going to another level and turning it up a notch where we can score goals,” Porter said. “We’ve shown that this year. … Obviously I wouldn’t have scripted it this way, this is not the way we wanted it to be. Obviously we were disappointed with the last game, but we know what we need to do.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.