PORTLAND, Ore. – As the old saying goes, it’s better to be lucky than good.
And right now, the Portland Timbers' luck is nowhere to be found. So although the play of John Spencer’s side has not been up to par during their current four-game losing streak, the Timbers head coach said he wouldn’t be having to explain a franchise-worst slide had a few things here and there fallen Portland’s way.
Bottom line: maybe a little luck is all the Timbers need to show they are indeed a good team.
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“We can point to a decision going our way or not going our way, and that could change the game,” Spencer said. “And right now we’re just not getting the breaks.”
Spencer pointed to Kris Boyd’s juggling volley goal in the 25th minute that was wiped away when the big striker was called offside, an incorrect decision that wiped away what would have been a 2-0 Portland lead.
He also said Landon Donovan’s equalizer right before halftime was a confidence killer for his team, sending them into the second half with a negative mindset.
“I think if we go in at halftime 1-0 up, it’s a different mentality in the locker room,” Spencer said. “We went into halftime 1-1 and it was like deflation. The guys were down, and I said ‘Look, we played some good football.’”
And while Spencer has acknowledged there must be improvements in his team’s play, especially late in games, he said they must still believe their quality will show through as the season progresses.
“Losing can become a habit as well as winning,” he said. “The easiest thing for us to do right now as a coaching staff and as a playing staff is feel sorry for yourself. Odds are they’re going to put it right. And you’ve got to try to pick them up for the game.”
Help on the way?
The Timbers brought in another outside defender Monday to work out with the team as a trialist.
Steven Smith, a Scottish left back who last played with Preston North End of England’s League One, joined Austrian right back Andreas Dober, who came to the team for a trial last week.
Spencer has expressed concern over his defenders closing down service from the wings. He shook up the backline against the Galaxy, benching right back Lovel Palmer for Steve Purdy. Mike Chabala replaced the injured Rodney Wallace at left back against LA.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.