Quotes & Notes | Portland Timbers 3, Columbus Crew SC 2 | Sept. 19, 2018

Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese
General thoughts on the match…
“[Our performance says] that we responded very well under the adversity. For [Columbus] finding the goal early and for us to react right away and raise the level - it was fantastic. That’s something that we spoke during the two days that we’ve been practicing and I thought that that was great from the guys. The attitude was perfect. Right after the goal, there was a belief that we were going to get back into it and the guys performed very well.”

On the upcoming road match against match against Minnesota…
“First of all, we enjoy this victory, then we think about Minnesota.”

On Andy Polo’s performance tonight...
“He had a great performance. I think he’s been looking for the goal for a while. But today he looked a little more free, he went forward, he found the spaces that he needed. Also, Zarek [Valentin] gave him good support to make sure he was able to find the space going forward. And [Polo] finished in a great way but we have to give credit to Samuel Armenteros because he gave a good pass and then it was an important goal for us.”

On Andy Polo’s progression throughout the season…
“He’s been doing very well. But not [just] from now, from the beginning of the season. Since he got here, he’s been giving us a lot and he’s been playing in a role that is demanding because he needs to be disciplined tactically defensively and also offensively and he’s given us a lot of balance.”

On David Guzman’s performance tonight and role this season…
“The important part for him was to make sure that he kept the middle space, you know, always closed; that he was always there cleaning up passes and initiating our attack for a lot of the moments that we won the ball. But occasionally, if he found the space to go forward as he did to go and find himself into the box and it was a fantastic finish.”

On the team’s recent defensive performances…
“I think we have shown to be a very strong defensive team during the entire season. There's moments of course that some things haven’t gone right, but I think the response today was fantastic. In Houston, we had 30 very good minutes at the beginning and then, unfortunately, we gave up that goal - but that’s in the past. We learned from it and I thought that today the guys were able to respond very well. And then I thought in the second half, we created a lot of chances, we created a lot of good play.”

On not making a substitution until the 84th minute…
“[We didn’t make a sub] because we needed to win this game - we’re not thinking about Minnesota. For us, it’s important to win this game and we felt that the guys that were on the pitch, they were doing the job. When Columbus went with three in the back, we felt that we still could contain the way we were playing. Then we made an adjustment by putting Blanco a little bit wider, that way we changed the formation a little bit to a 4-4-1-1. So we didn’t need to bring anyone in because everybody looked pretty good and at the end, we just made a substitution for someone fresh on top even though Armenteros was having a good game. And then at the end [we subbed] Valeri just in case we needed someone to be a little fresher, to get into spaces. Melano’s very quick, spaces were open so we didn’t need to make any [early] substitutions. For me, substitutions need to be made to moments that is needed and the team was performing very well so we didn’t need to make any substitutions.”

On the team’s resilience after going down a goal early on…
“A performance like this helps us to enter, god willing, into the playoffs in a very good way but we have to maintain this mentality. We have to continue to work, we need to make sure that every game we’re a difficult team to beat. But for me, today was a very good performance. Now we have to think about Minnesota. Right after now that we’ve finished looking at this game we’ve got to start thinking who’s going to be in the starting XI for this match coming up and we need another good performance.”

On Andy Polo’s role, defensively and offensively, in tonight’s match and going forward…
“I think he’s always had that responsibility to perform the way he performed today. But I think today he felt free to do certain things in a better way. He pushed himself a little more forward. I thought on the ball [he] was very, very good. His passing was excellent and we have to give him a lot of credit because as an offensive-minded player, someone that plays mostly as an attacking player, he’s given us a lot of balance, he’s defending very, very well. And when we need him to be able to go forward, he’s also creating a lot of dangerous situations and for a player like that is very good to have.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco
On the team coming back to win the match…
“I thought it was a good performance. Columbus is a very good team. Tonight was a tough match. The last game, we lost to Houston. So I thought we showed very good character in the game, and in some moments we showed some very good soccer too.”

On Andy Polo scoring his goal…
“I’m very happy for him because he worked so hard the last few games. He can score and sometimes assist, but he did a very, very good job with hard work. He deserves his first goal and I hope the next game he has more goals and assists.”

On the team taking the momentum into Saturday’s road match at Minnesota United FC…
“We try to play the same, but sometimes it’s different. In Houston, they’re a very good team in attack. We made too many mistakes in defense, but in a different game we deserve more. We have three games remaining on the road, so we need the points because it’s very important for the playoffs.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Andy Polo (translated)
On his thoughts after the win…
“I’m very happy to help the team in this difficult match. We knew we had to win this game, so I’m happy to be a part of it.”

On scoring his first career MLS goal at Providence Park…
“I’m very happy to have scored in front of the fans at home. It’s about time that I scored. In the end, I just want to contribute to the team and complete our goal.”

On closing out the final stretch of games…
“We are going to take it game by game. We want to win the championship, but we know we have to qualify for the playoffs first. We have a couple of ‘finals’ remaining, so we’re going to play hard and try and get the results to qualify.”

Portland Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark
On bouncing back after falling to Houston earlier in the week…
“It was a huge win for us, obviously, but the resilience of the team after going down 1-0 was fantastic. Really a great performance, a lot of character that I think we showed today, which is important with a lot of veteran guys in this team… they [showed it] today, so it was awesome.”

On the difference between playing at home versus on the road…
“Well I mean, it’s a huge advantage playing here - a lot bigger than when I wasn’t here. I realize it now what it gives you to play at home. But we’re looking to turn that page and get some points on the road as well; we can’t just only win at home, so I think we feel good going into Saturday.”

On his physical condition after playing two games within a short span…
“I feel great, man. I may be a veteran but my body feels really good… especially playing against your former team there’s extra motivation to play so I had a blast. Still a lot of friends over on that side but happy to be on this side.”

Columbus Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter
On the positive takeaways for the team after the match…
“I think in general the guys didn’t give up. And I think that’s important. I think the start of the game was excellent. I think we fell short in some key areas of the match that ended up hurting us, and there were some chances that we could’ve finished that we didn’t. But overall I think that the spirit of the guys is what I’m proud of. Our goal right now is to regroup and focus on the game on Saturday.”

On the quick turnaround for Saturday’s game and how the team needs to put tonight’s result behind them…
“Yeah, we’re back to work. We’ll fly back tomorrow and in on Friday and get ready for another game.”

On whether it will be nice to be back home after a week on the road…
“Yeah, it will. Our intention was to get points from all the games so we’re a little bit disappointed, but you have to keep going on. And we’ll be ready for Saturday.”

On what the team can expect from Colorado, their next opponent, who was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs…
“We know it will still be a difficult team. Sometimes when teams don’t have anything to play for, they play more free and they can give you some problems. We’re expecting a difficult game and we have to be focused.”

On Niko Hansen, who had both goals for Columbus…
“I think for Niko, the desire to get into the penalty box, the desire to be dangerous was there. His runs behind the line were excellent. I think he put together a nice performance.”

On whether the fact that they didn’t play a lot of the main players was because of the tight turnaround for Saturday’s match…
“No, I think when we look at our squad, we have guys that we believe in. The eleven that we put on the field tonight we thought were capable of winning this game. It’s a decision that I think was the right one. I think we were capable of winning this game. I think we fell short in some key moments, and we paid for it.”

On what the Timbers did to counteract Columbus’ hot start…
“They got back into the game on a cross that we weren’t defending well in the penalty box at all. That gave them a little bit of momentum. And they overloaded their right side of the field and did a good job of disorganizing us a little bit. Having said that, I think that the match was within reach and we let it slip.”

On his message to the team at halftime, being down 2-1…
“We wanted to make a couple of adjustments and focus on releasing our wide attacking midfielders to be a little bit more aggressive in the press. We still wanted to keep switching field. Get in behind them. Get in behind their back line. It’s unfortunate that you give up a goal so quickly out of the locker room. I think that hurt the game in general.”

Columbus Crew SC midfielder Niko Hansen
On his first goal in the seventh minute of the match…
“It was a good build up. We got it from one side to the other, and that’s often what we talk about. We knew that if Pedro [Santos] can get on the ball, it’s going to come into the box and so I hold my run a little bit and Pat [Patrick Mullins] does well to drive the guys down, and it falls for me and I put it away.”

On what was going through his mind after his second goal of the match…
“We just got to get another one. We were still missing another one, maybe another two. It’s unfortunate that maybe a couple of their half-chances go in and we go down 3-1. I think it would have been a different game for us if those don’t go in. But it’s a good fight from the boys and I can’t say enough about the grind. The guys that came in, how they changed the game, it’s a team goal. You know, I put it away, but the guys that did all the build up and put a good ball in, that’s who we have to give all the accolades to.

Columbus Crew SC midfielder Will Trapp
On whether he’s proud of the effort the team put out there…
“Yeah, absolutely. We had some heavy rotations in the lineup. I think you look at Niko [Hansen] scoring two goals. I think you look at a guy like Connor Maloney, who came in and battled for every play and got an assist, which is great. But there’s just three moments in that game that cost us goals and that’s the difference. We had some bright spots in terms of things we did attacking wise, but a couple of things that let us down, that’s what cost us the game.”

On the value of young players like Niko Hansen and Connor Maloney getting experience in a match like this…
“It’s invaluable to play in a game like this. It’s a quality opponent and a difficult environment so for guys to step up to the occasion and understand what these games are about is great. This is what we’re going to be playing in in the playoffs. So understanding that going away from home and having to put up with tough environments and play challenging teams is a good lesson for us all.”
 

Notes:

  • With the win, Portland registered its 100th MLS win in the match. The Timbers are the first post-2010 expansion team to reach the 100-win mark, beating both Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2011 expansion team) and the Philadelphia Union (2010 expansion team).
  • The Timbers have conceded just 12 goals at home this season, which is tied for the fourth-fewest home goals allowed in 2018.
  • Since the beginning of the 2016 season, the Timbers have a home record of 33-7-9. The 33 home wins are the second most in that time span and four more home wins than any other Western Conference team.
  • Portland is unbeaten in its last 13 home games against teams from the Eastern Conference with a record of 8-0-5, winning seven of their last eight matches against Eastern Conference opponents at Providence Park.
  • Diego Chara finished the match with nine tackles, which is the third-most of any MLS player in a match this season. Chara is one of three Timbers players with nine or more tackles in an MLS match.
  • Sebastián Blanco secured his ninth assist of the season, becoming the second Timbers player to have nine or more assists in a single MLS season.
  • Blanco recorded his 17th career assist for the Timbers, which is tied for eighth most across all eras (since 1975).
  • Andy Polo scored his first MLS goal in the match. Polo is the 14th different player to score an MLS goal for Portland this season.
  • Polo delivered his second assist of the season in the match. Polo is the fifth Timbers player this season to have both a goal and an assist in the same match, joining Diego Valeri, Alvas Powell, Cristhian Paredes and Blanco.
  • David Guzmán scored his third goal of the season. All three of Guzman's goals have come in the last 10 matches.
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