Timbers cite "confidence," "pride" as keys to shutout and winning streaks

PORTLAND, ORE. – After opening the season with five road matches, the Portland Timbers were winless before they played their home first game at Providence Park.

One month later, the Timbers have won their fourth consecutive match, own a winning record (4-3-2) and sit in fourth place in the MLS Western Conference.

“I’m very proud,” first-year head coach Giovanni Savarese said following the Timbers’ dramatic 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday. “There’s been progression game after game, practice after practice and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort. We have more guys battling to play, that want to participate, that want to be there, so I’m very proud of the effort today.”

With Sunday’s win, Portland have won four consecutive matches for just the second time in their MLS history, matching a four-game streak from their MLS Cup-winning campaign in 2015. Perhaps more importantly, the Timbers have now gone three consecutive matches without allowing a goal, a span of 280 minutes.

“In this team, there is a confidence,” said midfielder Sebastián Blanco, who scored the game winner on Sunday. “We know with big changes that they’re difficult and we need time, but now we are better. We’re compact, helping our teammates and I think we changed the attitude with every game.”

Savarese praised his side's efforts to get organized and become a solid defensive team.

“When someone makes a mistake,” he said, “someone is right behind helping and I think that’s fantastic.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, the clean sheets began to stack up when goalkeeper Jeff Attinella and center back Liam Ridgewell returned to the lineup.

“We pride ourselves on keeping a clean sheet,” Ridgewell said on Sunday. “We don’t look at a goal ratio, we look at clean sheets.”

Attinella echoed Ridgewell's sentiment, saying “it’s a pride thing, and taking pride in getting a shutout.”

The Portland back line will face a stern test Saturday as LAFC visit Providence Park (3 pm ET, FOX). With 22 goals in the first 10 matches of their existence, and four road wins already, Bob Bradley's expansion team will be a handy measuring stick for the Timbers’ defensive renaissance. 

“It’s just been a big effort from everyone to keep solid, to keep compact, to cover each other and to work hard for each other,” Ridgewell added. “It's not rocket science.”

For midfielder and reigning league MVP Diego Valeri, the results are merely a reflection of a unified and collaborative squad.

“It’s about the effort and the work we are doing,” said Valeri. “We always trust and have confidence in this team. Now the results are showing the effort we are making.”