TUKWILA, Wash. — John Spencer was having none of that "it's only preseason" talk.
Spencer's Portland Timbers fought to a 1-1 tie with I-5 rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday at the Cascadia Summit to remain unbeaten in preseason. They carry a 2-0-5 record into their inaugural season as an MLS team, with five of those results coming against league opponents.
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Portland are proving to be a difficult team to break down, and — so far — impossible to beat. Sure, it's only preseason, but Spencer would rather see a goose egg in the loss column.
"If we'd lost the last seven or eight [preseason] games, would you guys be asking me, 'Are you scared for the season to come up because you haven't won a game or you haven't kept a clean sheet?'" Spencer told reporters following the tie with Vancouver.
The Timbers took an early lead through D-2 holdover Ryan Pore after Whitecaps 'keeper Jay Nolly spilled a save onto the post and back into play, but Portland defender David Horst coughed up an own goal before halftime and the scoreline stood.
"I look it as a massive positive," Spencer said. "We've not given up many goals, and we're still creating chances — even today when when I didn't think we played particularly well."
The game was anything but pretty. At times the Timbers — who defeated the Seattle Sounders 2-0 on Friday night — lost their shape defensively, allowing the Whitecaps 14 looks on goal. In all, there were 35 total fouls drawn.
"What we have to do on the field, we didn't do it," midfielder James Marcelin said. "We were supposed to win the game, and we did not do it. I guess we didn't play very well — the way we're supposed to play."
Portland didn't create as many chances as Spencer would have liked, though Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon saved well in stoppage time to deny the Timbers the win. However, the Whitecaps also failed to capitalize on some late chances, and Spencer admitted he was relieved to see his team's record unblemished at the final whistle.
"If you'd asked me the question, 'Was I happy with these two results' before I came up here — one goal in two games, four points from six — I'd take it," Spencer said.
The Timbers headed back to Oregon on Saturday night and wrap their preseason at the San Jose Earthquakes on March 12.