PORTLAND, Ore. – Getting your first log slab in a Portland Timbers uniform is always a special moment and for Jeff Attinella Friday night, his first chunk off the log was no different.
Making his fifth start of the season and just second at Providence Park, Attinella was part of a Timbers team performance that earned their fourth clean sheet of 2017 in a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls.
As per tradition, the goalkeeper was given a freshly sliced log from Timber Joey to mark the shutout. The feeling for Attinella as he raised it in front of a cheering Timbers Army?
“Surprisingly heavy,” he said with a laugh. “I wanted it, man, I wanted it bad . . . I’m glad I could get one, and now I’m officially a Timber.”
The game saw the Timbers make 33 tackles in all which was the second-highest total for Portland in their MLS history. Timbers defender Lawrence Olum, who helped marshal a Timbers backline that limited New York to only two shots in the first half—neither of them on target—acknowledged that it was a challenging match.
“It was pretty physical,” he said. “The ref let a lot of the play keep going, and I think tonight the boys were up for the challenge. [New York] brought theirs, we brought ours, and we came out on top.”
After the Timbers jumped to a 1-0 lead on a Diego Valeri goal in the 65th minute, they found themselves down to 10 men after a straight red card was given to Larrys Mabiala for a denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity from New York’s Gonzalo Verón.
The Red Bulls put on the pressure to find an equalizer, and in the last minute of regulation time, they thought they nearly had one when defender Sal Zizzo leapt high to snap a header on target only to have Attinella make an acrobatic, point-blank save to deny him.
“Luckily the header went in my wingspan and it’s just one of those things where you practice it all the time—reaction saves—and I was lucky enough to get a hand on it,” said Attinella.
Darren Mattocks scored late into second half stoppage time for Portland to seal the win with the three points moving the Timbers into a four-way tie for first place in the Western Conference.
“It just shows that things happen in the game,” said Olum. “It just took everybody’s awareness to know what moment we are in the game. We needed to lock it down. The second goal helped a lot. It was just a lot of effort from the guys today.”
While receiving his first log slice was clearly special for Attinella, he was quick to recognize the overall importance of the victory at home.
“Obviously, we needed three points, but to get a good response like that after giving up four in Toronto, to get a clean sheet, feels great and I think it’s good momentum to go for this final stretch of the season,” he said. “[We’ll] enjoy it tonight but we have a big one on Wednesday, so we’ve got turn our focus to Colorado.”