Quotes & Notes | Portland Timbers 2, Chicago Fire 2 | July 5, 2017

Portland Timbers Quotes

Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter
On his reaction to the game…
“Great performance. From start to finish. Every single guy. Domination against the team at the top of the table. Complete domination.”

On the feeling walking away with just one point…
“Never satisfied obviously unless you get three, but if you’ve been around this sport long enough you know sometimes you don’t get three points. But for me today is the bar now. It’s our best performance of the year on both sides of the ball. It’s crazy this sport that we can have 24 shots to six and not get out of here with three points, but I was very pleased with the performance and I have nothing more to say. Other than if we do that again, and if that’s the best team in the league, I like our chances this year.”

On not giving up a lot of chances but giving up goals…
“Watch the goals, you tell me? It happens. You’ve got to look at how many chances they had. Hardly any. If you look at how many we had. At who controlled the game. We did. So at the end of the day that’s just the way it rolls sometimes. That’s the way this sport is. When you look at the first goal, it’s a cross. Kind of a fluky goal. Second one as well. At the end of the day I will take that performance every day of the week.”

On the performance of Sebastián Blanco as of late and his progress…
“He’s been excellent. He and [Dairon] Asprilla. I think we’ve got two guys who are playing the way we want them to play on the wings. Both sides of the ball. That’s what I have to keep a perspective on outside of the not getting the three points today. We are still getting better every single game and playing how I want them to play. Keeping the ball. Creating chances. Pressing. Be organized. Play in transition. Play with confidence. Play with an aggressive mentality. I saw everything today except for the three points. Nine out of ten times we will win this game if we play that way. You give up six shots. You should win the game if you have 24 shots, 60 percent possession, you should win the game. And yet in soccer you don’t always. Yet if you’ve been around this game you know that happens.”

On the bench once again stepping up and playing well…
“We've obviously built more depth. More spirit. I think our leadership has been improved in the last several weeks. And I think again we’ve played some of our best football recently; today, for me, was our best game of the year. We played very aggressively and in a dominant way. We haven’t done that in some games this year. I’m really pleased looking at the big picture of how we are coming together and the way we need to play and building our depth. Obviously when we add in a few more pieces in Larrys [Mabiala] and continue to get better we are going to have a really good end of the year. I’m confident in that.”

On what he saw on the first goal and if Jake Gleeson could have come sooner…
“I need to watch it again, but it came out of nowhere obviously. Again, that’s this sport. One little moment where the ball gets crossed in and it can happen. We will look at it for sure.”

On the improvements in leadership on the team…
“I think every single guy has stepped up. As a coach who has been around quite a few teams over the years and been in quite a few locker rooms, it might not seem like it with the results, but I can tell you this – we’ve come together, this team. And what’s happened in this locker room right now is guys are stepping up. And you saw it on the pitch today with how bad they wanted to win that game. Down a goal and coming back and then pushing in the end. We didn't lose today, we ran out of time because there was only going to be one winner today with the way we were playing. And don’t forget that team is at the top of the table. If we are going to take some criticism for not beating teams at the bottom then give us a little bit of credit, for dominating the best team in the league.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco (translated)
On the team’s change in mentality since the Seattle match…
“In the final moments of the match, we thought we could get the result. We had a great performance. We had 24 shots and couldn’t win. The change in mentality was very important for us. We played two games against Sporting Kansas City and Chicago in a really good way.”

On scoring his first goal at Providence Park…
“It’s very important for me to get my first goal here. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to win the game. It’s good for my confidence, but in the end we need to win.”

On the team’s mentality to score the equalizer…
“When we’re not at home, it’s a little bit harder because the opposition is staying back and defending. When we’re at home and down, we have more energy to fight. We need to become a team that’s aggressive for the entire 90 minutes, and not just in the final part of the match.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Ben Zemanski
On the team pushing for the game-winning goal in the final moments of the match…

“If you look at the course of the game, especially in the second half, we were the team that was pushing. We felt like we were on the front foot. We were getting chances, we were getting shots and unfortunately that third goal never came for us.”

On the team’s performance since the last match…
“It’s tough not to be pleased about tonight’s performance. It’s obviously a business about getting results, and the last two games we felt like the result was there for us. But we had a good performance on the road in Kansas City, and we thought we had a much better one here. If that’s the best team in the league, I think we stack up against any team in the league and I think the results are going to come for us.”

On the team being on the same page in the second half…
“Everybody had each other’s backs. Everyone was motivating each other and pushing each other. You can look out there and you can see every guy pushing to get that goal. Unfortunately it didn’t come today, but we feel good about this group, we feel good about the goals coming in the future and the results coming in the future.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri
On his assist on Sebastián Blanco’s goal…
“I was looking, and they had a lot of players in the box. I wanted to show the defense that I wanted to shoot, but I was looking for Seba. He made a good movement, and it was a great finish.”

On the growing leadership within the team…
“Every game is different. The Seattle game was disappointing for everybody. I think everyone has a role, and everyone tried to perform in their role. That’s it. That creates a team. That’s the unity of the team when everybody wants to perform in their role. I think we’ve done it very well in the last couple of games. We didn’t get the reward, but if we keep playing this way in the future, we will.”

Portland Timbers defender Zarek Valentin
On the team’s performance…
“We created a lot of opportunities. We were able to put in some good crosses. We battered them, but credit to them. They bunkered down and they kept us out of the majority [of the match]. If we play this way for the rest of the season, we’ll get a lot more points.”

On the result, despite outshooting Chicago…
“It’s a cruel sport. I don’t think there are many other sports where you can play as well as we did and not get a result. Credit to them for bunkering in and keeping us out. We’re a very good team at home, and they ended up getting a point and put us under pressure. They went up 2-1, and we battled back for the last 35-40 minutes of the game. If we continue to play that way the majority of the game, I think we’re going to get a lot of points. We’ll take the positives and take a point, but we’re ultimately disappointed to not get three.”

Chicago Fire quotes

Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic
On earning a point on the road…
“I think it was great. The game was fantastic and the guys showed fantastic character coming back from the initial lead that Portland had. Then even taking the lead on our side. In the end, unfortunately we dropped two points, but it was a tough game. Fantastic opponent, great crowd, great atmosphere. These kinds of games are, for sure, very helpful for our team to grow and especially when we get a point on the road. I think it’s important. We’re obviously not happy with just a point, but we are excited about the character and the way the team played today.”

On the Fire’s unbeaten streak…
“The best motivation is the next game. That’s how we prepare. Next game, next game. It’s not a time to look behind you. Of course we’re very happy to be in first place, but we motivate our guys to look at the next game, prepare for the next game and compete, give their best. The results with that approach are coming and what we have in this group is the hunger. Everyone is driven by the goal that we have this year, which is playoffs. I think the team has an even higher ceiling. Once we get to the playoffs, we have to set another goal, but we will talk once we are in the playoffs.”

On the players that came into the team to fill some vacancies…
“Important absences for us, but also very important, showing up and stepping up the guys who had an opportunity to play today. That’s something we were preaching from the start that everyone has to work and wait for the opportunity to come and be ready. That’s the best possible approach. Today, everyone showed that they were ready and engaged. We didn’t even change anything in our game. Yes, at the end it was hard for us when we were tired. It’s different circumstance that we are not used to playing with guys that are a bit more tired, but then we lost possession and control of the game. Portland did well. But I think that having the depth and the guys that are waiting for their opportunity, always ready and when they get the opportunity, they can show that they are ready. It’s very important for the team.”

Chicago Fire midfielder Arturo Alvarez
On if he thought Nemanja Nikolic got a touch on the first goal…
“Well if [Nikolic] didn’t touch the ball, it’s my goal. Obviously, it was a cross. I saw Niko making that near post run and he said he didn’t touch it. I don’t think he did, but if he didn’t, I’ll take it. Either way, it went in and I’m there to put in dangerous crosses and make things happen. I’m glad it went in.”

On the team’s performance and attitude…
“We’re playing good soccer. Today was definitely a tough game. We knew it was going to be. It’s always tough coming to Portland and playing against Portland, who is also a good team with possession and everything. Obviously when you have limited minutes, you want to come in and show that you can still help the team. I’m glad I’m doing that at the moment.”

Chicago Fire defender Brandon Vincent
On scoring his first MLS goal…
“It’s an amazing feeling. Hard to describe. I think it’s just a culmination of a lot of hard work and having guys out there to celebrate with, it’s an amazing feeling.”

On the importance of the road point…
“It’s very important. Obviously we wanted a win, but we’ll take a point in a tough place to play on the road. It’ll be good momentum for us, good vibes going into the break, and into next game.”

Notes:

·         Wednesday’s game marked the 117th consecutive sellout for the Timbers at Providence Park.

·         Portland tallied nine shots on target in the match, the most by the club in a game this season. The Timbers 24 total shots was also a season-high for the Timbers.

·         The Timbers are unbeaten in their last six home games (3-0-3).

·         Portland is unbeaten all-time against the Chicago Fire with a 4-0-4 record.

·         Fanendo Adi scored his club-leading 51st goal of his Timbers career. Since his debut in 2014, Adi has recorded the third-most goals in MLS. 

·         Adi has recorded 10 goals for the 2017 season, tying Diego Valeri for the most on the team. The Timbers are one of two teams in MLS with two double-digit goal-scorers along with the Chicago Fire. 

·         Adi is one of two players in MLS with at least 10 goals in each of the last three seasons, along with David Villa. 

·         Sebastián Blanco scored his third goal of the season. The goal was Blanco's first at Providence Park.

·         Over the course of the last seven games, Valeri has notched seven combined goals and assists. Valeri’s seven assists are tied for the fifth-most in MLS.

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