PORTLAND, Ore. – Kris Boyd was in a talkative mood Tuesday after Portland Timbers training, perhaps the most he’s been since arriving in Portland in February.
The Scottish striker had much to say when it came to assessing his new team’s recent struggles as they prepare to face the LA Galaxy on Saturday at the Home Depot Center (7:30 pm PT, KPDX, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940 AM). And it boiled down to this: It’s time for the Timbers to grow up.
“We need to stand up and be men and be confident on the ball because they’re all good football players here,” he said. “The manager brought them all in, and he’s got confidence in their ability or they wouldn’t be here. So we need to all grow up, be men and take it on the pitch and act like men and start getting results.”
Boyd’s goal in Super Slow-Mo
Boyd said the mistakes being made aren’t signs of a team deficient in talent but one not thinking or utilizing their abilities. That’s especially true of the recent collapses, most notably at JELD-WEN Field against Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA, that have sent the Timbers to three straight defeats.
“When we see the mistakes we make all the way through the team, from strikers not holding the ball up, us giving away easy possession, not closing down quick enough, to midfielders maybe not picking up second balls to defenders not being tight,” Boyd told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s all the way through the team. Those are silly mistakes that we need to cut out.”
Since the opener, it’s been clear that Boyd, the Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading scorer who has two goals to him name this year, isn’t yet on the same page with his new teammates.
The chances just haven’t been there for a player who was brought to the Rose City with the expectation that he would be among the league’s most dangerous strikers. Boyd is tied for 14th in the league with six shots on goal, and said time undoubtedly will help the integration.
But he also emphasized that there needs to be better communication on the pitch.
"There's a lot of quiet, younger people in the dressing room that need to understand that communication is a big part of the game," Boyd said. "It's up to us as older [players] to keep drumming that into them every day."
He also said, predictably, that the three-game losing streak has been particularly tough to swallow because the team has shown sings of greatness, only to wilt into a listless, unorganized mess.
"We lose a game and it's like, '...What do I do with the ball?'" Boyd said. "And that’s when we need to be men and realize we are good players and we can take touches on the ball. We can play, we can pass and we can give it to people in tight areas and we can make things happen. Because if we’re winning the game, the other team should be chasing the game.”
Boyd emphasized the quality displayed when they went up 2-1 on Real Salt Lake and were just minutes from taking away three points. He said when Portland are organized and communicating on the pitch, teams haven’t been able to keep up.
“We’re a totally different team when we get the ball down and try to cut teams open,” he said. “But when we revert to just kicking it forward and hoping that something will happen, we lose the focus on what we’re meant to be doing.
“Because I think anybody who watches our training, there’s not any time the coaches just say that we need to launch the ball forward. We get it down we play, and that’s the way we train. And that’s the way we need to play for 90 minutes on the pitch. … We need to cut out the silly stuff.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.