BEAVERTON, Ore. – Anybody who has observed the Portland Timbers over the course of the season could tell there was a lot of release in the team’s celebration Saturday after Jack Jewsbury coolly slotted home a game-winning goal at the death against the Colorado Rapids.
Head coach Caleb Porter shouted out, arms outstretched, before hugging assistant coaches and players. Jewsbury was mobbed by teammates, a wide smile across the veteran’s face, clearly relishing one of the finer moments of his long career.
“When you win at the death you show more emotion, and I think giving up the goal and pulling the other goal back to win probably played into my emotion as well,” Porter said Wednesday after the team’s first training session back this week as they prepare to play host to the New England Revolution on Saturday (10:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE). “… That was a good moment, and you can see how much it means to our team, the players, the staff. We grind every day for the club and the supporters, and this is our job, we care more than anybody.
“And when you have a moment like that when you score late and you win because you worked so hard to get that win, it’s a nice moment in this job to feel that.”
And why not? Just a week prior, you’d think the sky was falling in the Rose City.
Portland came into a midweek fixture with Supporters’ Shield-leading D.C. United on their first two-game losing streak of the season with the second-lowest points-per-game total in the league.
Now, after beating D.C. and Colorado, the Timbers are above the red line and on their first winning streak of the season with a chance to win three straight for the first time in the franchise’s MLS history.
While all that certainly added to the passion to the Colorado celebration, did the criticism frustrate Porter?
“I think I’ve said this, things turn quickly in this league and as negative as a lot of people were being, the media was being, we knew that a couple wins and we’d be in a much different situation,” Porter said.
Center back Nat Borchers said that even through the struggles, there was a confidence in the group that gave them belief that results would come.
“I think we’ve believed in ourselves the whole year, and I think we’ve been saying it every week if we haven’t gotten a result we’ve played very well,” he said. “And I think we’ve believed in the quality of this group and that the soccer is going to come, and it’s starting to come and definitely we can be happy with the effort we put in in the last two games.”
Porter echoed Borcher’s comments, but also said that at some point a team has to back up confidence with results. Now that they have, he said, it’s only going to grow.
“And here we are above the red line, but we have to stay above the red line,” Porter said. “Because we’ve gotten a couple wins doesn’t mean it gets easier, doesn’t mean we can relax. We’re not all of a sudden thinking we’re the best team in the league and thinking that we can just coast in the next game. That’s not the case. We’re very business-like the whole season, every single game.
“I’ve just won two games in a row; my mood is the exact same as it was two weeks ago.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.