Reactions to the 2-1 win over Atlanta United FC

Assistant coach (and acting manager) Carlos Llamosa

On the importance of getting three points today…

“Well for the team, the organization, it’s really important. Third win in a row, put us right there in the pack to get a playoff spot. Hopefully a home playoff game.”

Thoughts on the play defensively…

“I think overall, our team defense did well, really well. Especially in the first half, we only gave up one shot that was resolved well by our goalkeeper … but I think we react well and defend well. Second half, I don’t think they had much chances, except for the set piece goal. But in the run of play, I think we shut down a very dangerous team full of good players. Up front, I think our defense did really well, and we shut it down.”

On Aljaz Ivacic’s play, and the difficulty of the save he made in the first half…

“Well, I haven’t played goalie or been a goalie coach, but I think it’s really tough. It’s not easy. Being in a 1v1 with a forward up top. Quality player, [Luiz] Araújo. I think he [Ivacic] did really well. He came out big and strong to make that save. I think [Ivacic] this year has been really good for us, for the team. Game-by-game, he feels more comfortable on the goal, and I think he’s improving a lot, and he’s one of the top goalkeepers in the league this year.”

On the development of Zac McGraw…

“In the past, Zac, every time he gets the call to be a starter or to play minutes in a game, he responds well. Every time we call for him … him and Bill [Tuiloma] were the starting center backs earlier this season, and I think they did really well. And now, when we’re required to change the system and play three in the back, I think he’s been solid for us, and hopefully continue that way.”

On communication he had with Head Coach Gio Savarese leading up to the match…

“As a staff, not only me, as a staff, after [the] Austin game, even in the locker room in Austin, we knew – myself, Miles [Joseph], Memo [Valencia], we were going to be on the sidelines without Gio. In the last three days, we’ve been communicating, analyzing this Atlanta team. Seeing how they play to their strengths, their weaknesses. And how we’re going to coach the game. Nothing changed. The only thing was not having Gio there. But we did the same job we did every week before games.”

Portland Timbers Midfielder Diego Chara

Importance of winning today’s match…

“I think the team today was really focused on getting the win. We were effective in those couple of opportunities we created from the PKs and finally got the three points.”

On this Atlanta United FC team…

“They have different players. They still have talented players. But today we did a really good job trying to stay strong on defense while trying to be effective in the attack.”

On having three center-backs…

“First of all, I think everyone here is ready to play. We are using a different formation with different players, I think this formation that we’ve been using in the last three games helps us to be better and more balanced in the backside. I think when we go forward to create an attack, we are a little more fit than before.”

Players stepping up with Gio being out…

“Nothing changed. During the week Gio was working with the team and everyone was ready for this game. We have experienced players on the field that help a lot to communicate between the teammates and I think that’s how we managed those moments.”

On Santiago Moreno today…

“Everyone knows Santiago [Moreno] is a talented player. We don’t have any doubts about that. He’s getting confident, he knows the league more, and now he is getting the freedom in attack. I think it’s great for the team.”

Portland Timbers Midfielder Santiago Moreno

On his goal…

“It’s definitely always nice scoring and mostly because it gave us the confidence in the game to continue to be aggressive. I’m just thankful to God and happy that I could help my teammates.”

On finding success on the opponent’s left-back…

“I think it was more about my abilities and just being able to attack on the wing. I think that’s maybe why the coach has been putting me on the wing now. Just being able to be aggressive and find that last ball in the final third. But also being able to run back and be successful defensively.”

On being able to draw penalties as a team…

“I’m not really sure. I think maybe that zone or area that’s the most difficult one, we look for that foul when we’re in there. Sometimes we also try to unbalance their game and their play. But we also know that we have confidence going into the box and that we’re going to shoot as much as we can, so maybe that contributes to that as well.”

On the right wing-back position…

“It’s definitely something the coaches and I have been talking about and I’ve been able to adapt myself very well in that position. We’ve spoken about my defensive side as well because everyone knows that I like going into the box and being aggressive and attacking. But I do know that I need to work on my defensive side as well, so I’ve been working hard on that with the coach, he’s given me confidence and I think that helps me a lot.”