Quotes & Notes | Portland Timbers 4, Houston Dynamo 2 | Mar. 18, 2017

Portland Timbers Quotes

Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter

On the team’s performance in the second half…
“I think it shows the heart they have. The hunger they have. The fight they have. And it’s every single player on the pitch. Every single player. Obviously there are certain guys who fight because it’s in their DNA, but you need fight out of guys like [Sebastián] Blanco and guys like Darlington [Nagbe] and [Diego] Valeri. I was really proud of the entire team, but I was really proud in the second half with those three guys in particular because it’s not always natural for those guys to want to dig and fight and grind and battle. I thought the whole team did that, but we got it out of everybody and that was the main reason we were on the ball so much because we kept winning it back with our pressure and I thought we just played with a real edge, a real ruthlessness that I’ve been wanting to see and we showed that. So I’m real pleased with obviously that second half and to be honest with you the entire game we were pretty good. The PK was tough, but we got one as well so that kind of washes out. But the only takeaway for me is we have to manage that one counter attack better, but outside of that I thought we were excellent the majority of the 90 minutes.

On the adjustments to deal with Houston’s counter attack in the second half…
“We knew the main thing to deal with in this game was going to be the counter attack, so that end of the half was very disappointing to give away that goal. We didn’t keep balance. There is this catch-22 playing Houston and you’ve seen it with the other teams they haven’t been able to solve it because they just cheat [Romell] Quioto. You can get at them 2-v-1 in that channel, which you need to do because they defend very narrow. But then when the ball turns over they will hit you the other way. We needed to manage it better with a d-mid with Lawrence [Olum] rotating over and with Alvas [Powell] getting back quicker. But then we also needed to punish them more. If you are going to get your outside back forward on that side you’ve got to hurt them. You’ve got to hurt the opponent and make them pay and we didn’t do that enough in the first half. We missed a couple of crosses and then we were opened up a couple times the other way. But that was the one takeaway for me, but other than that I thought we were really dominant and showed that edge and that ruthlessness and that little bit of chip on our shoulder that I’ve been wanting to see. We saw it again tonight.”

On finding balance in attacking down both flanks…
“It’s interesting because obviously with Zarek [Valentin] he’s right footed. We didn’t think Zarek was even going to be playing today because Marco [Farfan] was slated to start and had the stomach flu. Again it shows our depth. Next man in and for the next man like Zarek to go in and do a good job like he did and for us to get three points continues to reinforce we’ve got great depth and a good team. I’d never thought we’d start the year this early and have Zarek, Roy Miller and Lawrence Olum, three of our four backs, but they were excellent with the exception of that one counter. We needed to keep Darlington wider in that second half that was one of the points we made. He played a little bit too narrow in the first half. Towards the end of the first half he started to pull out wider and we started to get some actions down that side. So we told him to play a little bit more wide and told Zarek to go forward because we needed to keep Alvas in a little bit more to protect the counter with Quioto. The second goal came from Zarek getting forward, serving a nice ball and then [Diego] Valeri getting another header. That’s two on the year. Amazing.”

On the performance of Houston…
“I thought for the most part we dealt with them pretty well. They are very clear in what they look to do and they are very effective in what they look to do and how they open you up. So we knew it would be a game where we had the ball. We knew it would be a game where we had to create wide. We knew it would be a game when the ball turned over they would hit us on the counter. So there was no mystery in the game. We just didn’t manage that one counter attack. Other than that I thought we were excellent. We executed perfectly. We scored four goals. And won the game and we deserved to win. But they are a good team. They are athletic. They are organized. They play with a bit of a chip on their shoulder as well. It comes from the coach for sure. The mentality is much different than it has been. It reminds me of back when Dom [former Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear] had the team. They fight. They play brave. But I thought we deserved it in that second half.”

On the key to getting Adi and Valeri on the ball more in the second half…
“Valeri pulled a lot on the left to link up with Darlington. So we kind of created an overload on that flank. That was one of the things we talked about doing. That right side we tried to get down that side too, but again we were vulnerable the other way getting Alvas forward so we felt like switching it up. Again this team is capable of doing that, which Is great to be able to make those adjustments. We felt with Darlington we could keep him a little bit wider. Pull Valeri out there and those two guys would link up quite a bit. A few times in that first half we were content to just play wide, and there were times on the switch where we could have found some forward passes through the lines, and that was one of the other points we made and I thought we were better at finding little gaps central as we looked to change the point of attack."

On what it means to be off to such a strong start…
“It’s great. The whole season is what matters. Everybody talks about the start. You notice that a lot when teams don’t get a good start. We want to have a good start, a good middle and a good finish to the end of season. We are going to take every game as it comes. I told the guys before the game I’m probably going to use the word hunger probably 10,000 times this year because for me as good as we are we have maintain that hunger and we have to show up every single day. Every game is an opportunity to prove ourselves. It’s opportunity for them as professionals to prove themselves. It’s an opportunity for our team to prove ourselves. The only way to do that is to show up and get three points. I thought they left it all out on the field today and that’s what it takes to win in this league. You can’t take a night off. It comes down to winning on the field that day and fighting, as simple as it sounds that’s the difference. And I love our team’s mentality so far this year.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri
On the come-from-behind victory…
“It says a lot. We’re trying to win games in a [certain] way. This way. We’re fighting for that, and we’re working for that. That made me happy because we want to dominate games with the ball and putting pressure [on the opposing team]. I’m really happy about the way we won.”

On his goal-scoring exploits to begin the season…
“We’ve got to be focused in the next game against Columbus. I’m not thinking about numbers. I’m thinking about the team, the way we want to win and how I can help the team in order to do that.”

On how he feels about his start to the season…
“It’s really good. It’s really good to score and obviously to help the team, because today wasn’t an easy game.”

 On what he attributes the team’s success to…
“It’s a little bit of everything. There’s not only one reason. It’s a little bit of luck and we’re a strong team. We’re defending, in my view, much better without the ball. We have quality, and we have depth to be honest. Today, Zarek played a really good game. He didn’t expect to play, and he did an amazing [job]. Roy [Miller] came in last week and he’s only had one week with us. He’s played two unbelievable games, so we’re really happy about that. Everybody is adapting quickly, and obviously we expect to be a strong team.”

Portland Timbers forward Fanendo Adi
On the come-from-behind victory…
“It means a lot. Even though we were down 2-1 in the first half, but we talked at halftime about putting them under pressure and that’s exactly what we did. We pressed very high, and everyone put in a lot of work. It’s great to come back from 2-1 down to win the game 4-2.”

On the team’s ability to grind out wins…
“I think it’s because of the mentality. Everyone was excited going into the season. The new pieces in the team are really focused as well. The gelling of the team is going on pretty well, so we’re working for each other. I think everyone is just happy. Every player that gets a chance wants to put in work. The 11 players on the pitch did a very good job defending, and of course we gave up two goals, but we scored four. That shows a lot of maturity in the team.”

On staying patient heading into the start of the second half…
“I just need to do what I have to do. I do a lot of finishing with Sean McCauley and he tells me sometimes you won’t touch the ball for 10 minutes, but if the chance comes to you and you tap it in. I was lucky enough to be in the right position.”

Portland Timbers defender Zarek Valentin
On getting the start for tonight’s game…
“It felt incredible. The fans were on a different level tonight. When you have that kind of support that can help will you through a game. When you go down a goal and you come back out and the fans willed us the whole second half. We were able to find a goal and another one, and it was great. When you have Darlington [Nagbe] and [Diego] Valeri…  When you have those guys like around you, it makes the game a little bit easier. It gives you confidence and they build you up.”

On getting the come-from-behind victory…
“I think it shows we have a lot of character, and we have a lot of great pieces. It’s nice to be able to not necessarily rely on one person to find a goal, and we have a lot of guys that can come in and contribute and put the ball in the back of the net. It shows how lethal our attack is. It’s tough giving up two goals. As a defender, you never like that. But when you’re attacking and getting in good spots and consistently trying to get goals it really helps the defenders out. It makes our job a little bit easier. Hats off to the front guys because they had a pretty damn good day.”

Houston Dynamo Quotes

Houston Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera

General thoughts on the match…
“It was a good game. It was a fun game. Especially for them of course at the end. For us, it was our first test away. I believe, and we all saw, the first half we [Houston] came from behind and it was solid and it was very good. The second half, we talked about being sharp from the beginning and it didn’t happen. We lost total control the first 15 minutes of the second half. They took over, they scored two goals and we never came back from that lapse, that situation. Then it was tough. You have to make some changes to change the face of the team. We kind of reacted, but it wasn’t enough. At the end, we have to continue working to improve our possession and improve in our job as a team. It wasn’t great, the second half, especially the first 15 minutes. We didn’t play well. That is on me as a coach. I need to work harder. We need to work harder to try and keep them sharp and more focused. When we decided to play, we were a very good team. When, in the second half, we didn’t have that technique, that confidence to move the ball, to hold the ball. That definitely is something we need to work on.”

On what is helping the team’s early success this season…
“We have good players. We’re building a team of course. We all know that, but it’s not an excuse. We need to continue performing. We need to get better. We have very tough games ahead of us. In order for us to get into the playoffs for this season, we have to be able to play better through the 90 minutes. And that’s something we still haven’t had success with. We cannot play well and then just go down for a few minutes during the game. That’s something that, with a team like [Portland], they’re very good. They took advantage and they can change a game right away. They did it. We need to continue working. We’ve been saying we’re not ready yet, we’re not there yet. We’re improving. All this is going to help us improve. It’s going to help us to have a reference to work on.”

On Portland’s ever-present attacking threat…
“It’s a very tough team. It’s a very dangerous team. We knew it from the beginning. We knew that they were very dangerous, they were at home and they were going to create a lot of chances. But we knew that we had chances also and we needed to put those chances away. When we had the possibilities to take the ball away, we needed to keep it. In that aspect, we failed. In the second half we failed to take the ball away from them and they took advantage of the opportunities. They were clinical when they had to finish.”

Houston Dynamo forward Erick Torres
General thoughts on the match…
“It was a tough game. It was one we were expecting. In the first half, we did a really good job. We were able to manage, even though [Portland] has really important players. However, the second half we need to pull back and analyze what happened and be able to decipher what happened.”

On going up against a Portland backline that has featured several changes…
“Our offensive line got to know each other really well during preseason and now it’s showing. We’ve been doing a good job matching up together. We saw videos of the defense. We knew they had changes like in the back central was a different guy. We did what the coaching staff asked of us, to be more explosive, to play on the sides, to exploit the sides. We were able to break them down in the first half. During the second half we were not able to break them down, but that’s something we’re going to keep working on.”

Houston Dynamo defender A.J. DeLaGarza
On the attacking threat that Portland possesses…
“I think they all looked dangerous in the second half when we sat back a little too much, couldn’t keep the ball. Didn’t really get after them like we did in the first half. I don’t think they created much in the first half. Obviously the PK goal, but I don’t remember much they did in the first half. We limited them, but when you give those guys, one of the best attacking groups in this league, when you give them time and space, they’ll punish you and they did that tonight.”

On trying to keep Portland’s attacking fullbacks limited…
“I don’t think many teams will push their outside backs forward the way we play because you have [Alberth Elis], you have [Romell Quioto] who kind of sit up and wait for those balls. That’s the way we play. Obviously when teams throw those numbers forward, we adjust to that. But I don’t think many teams want to leave [Elis and Quioto] with time and space in the open field. Kind of kept [Portland] at bay and [Erick Torres] will occupy a couple players as well with the way he’s playing and his confidence.”

Notes:

·         Saturday’s game marked the 109th consecutive sellout for the Timbers at Providence Park.

·         The Timbers have won seven consecutive home matches, dating back to the 2016 season, marking the longest home winning streak in the club's MLS era. 

·         For the first time in the club's MLS era, Portland has won their first three matches of the season. 

·         Portland is unbeaten in its last five home matches against Houston, with a 4-0-1 record. 

·         Portland is the only MLS Western Conference team to start the 2017 season with three wins. The team also has a plus-seven goal difference.

·         Portland has scored 10 goals through three matches. The 10 goals is the most the club has scored in the first three matches of the season in all eras of the club (since 1975), passing the previous mark of seven set in 2005. 

·         Portland held the Dynamo to just one shot in the second half of the match. It is just the third time the Timbers have held an opponent to one shot in the second half of an MLS match. 

·         Diego Valeri scored his sixth career brace and second brace this season for the Timbers. In the match, Valeri became the fourth Timbers player to score at least 40 goals for the club, joining Fanendo Adi, John Bain, and Byron Alvarez. 

·         Valeri has scored five goals against the Houston Dynamo, which ties for the most goals he has scored against a single club (Chivas USA). 

·         Dating back to last season, Adi has scored in seven consecutive home matches for the Timbers. Portland has won all seven of those matches.

·         David Guzmán scored his first goal for the Timbers. Guzmán also notched his first assist of his Portland career in the match. 

·         Zarek Valentin made his 2017 season debut in the match, delivering the third assist of his MLS career. 

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