Quotes & Notes | Portland Timbers 4, D.C. United 0 | Oct. 15, 2017

Portland Timbers quotes
Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter

On clinching a spot in the MLS Playoffs after tonight’s win…
“It’s obviously been a long couple of years since we won the championship. I’m really pleased that the guys, this year, dug deep through a lot and are now able to be in the playoffs again. That’s the first goal, but that’s not the only goal. Our goal is to win the West. When we’re in [the playoffs] with a high seed, we want to win it all. It’s a great step. I can remember vividly, last year in that last press conference after losing to Vancouver, that feeling. We went back to work, made some changes, made some adjustments, and it’s great to be rewarded with a better year and to be in a position where we cannot just have a better year and make the playoffs, but win the West and go from there."

On the decision to start Alvas Powell, and his performance tonight…
“I thought everybody played well. When you get 11 guys, plus all the subs putting in a seven, eight shift, it’s scary, especially with the brand of football we’re capable of playing. Looking at D.C., we knew that it would be about us breaking them down. We knew they’d drop off, look to play on the break and we knew they’d make life difficult with numbers. I thought our guys showed a lot of composure and patience. It wasn’t easy. It took us a while to pick the lock and get that first goal. In the second half, we opened up the flood gates, but I thought the outside backs were a big part of what we did tonight. We shaped the game that way. We went with Vytas and Alvas tonight because we wanted to play our wingers more narrow in pockets. We knew there’d be some space for them to get around if the rotation was right. I thought we could have done a little better to start the game, but it’s difficult as well. I thought as the game went on, Vytas and Alvas were both really good.”

On how the wingers improved in the second half…
”Sometimes it just takes time in getting that first goal. It makes a big difference because now they have to open up. We knew it would take time. It wasn’t perfect in the first half, but we had some good little half-chances and we had good control. I was really pleased with how we controlled them in transition and we dealt with their first and second balls. I thought we were up for the fight. We were very focused in the moments that matter. It could have been a little more sharper, a little more cleaner. Our tempo on the ball could have been a little bit better, but sometimes it takes that first goal or it takes wearing down them down. The timing of our rotations is the key and I thought our timing was a little bit off. They were too narrow too early. We ended up just playing the ball to the outside back, who is standing. We wanted to get the outside backs forward on the move a little bit more, where they can get crosses in and penetrate a little bit more. There were a couple little adjustments, but other than that we just needed time.”

On why he started Alvas and Vytas at outside back…
“I’ve always been a big believer to succeed in this league that you’ve got to tweak what you do with your personnel. I think a big part of winning this game was I don’t think they saw our outside backs probably getting forward like we got them forward. The last several games, we played with the outside backs staying connected and because we played wingers that played a little bit wider like Asprilla , we didn’t need them to get forward as much. Often times, I’ll set up a game to set up the next game but I hoped to have played better against San Jose, but I always had it in my mind that I might go with more attacking wide backs and adjust the movement of the wingers for this game. I think the game [next week] will have similarities because Vancouver is a team that likes to absorb and counter. They don’t like to carry games too much, but they’re better than D.C., so it will be a much more difficult game."

On Darren Mattocks’ performance tonight…
“I think he’s still getting back in the swing of things. I know it’s crazy to say because he’s played a lot of games in a row, but he hasn’t played a lot of games in the last several years, so there’s still a lot of work for him to do with his timing, movement and finishing. I think that’s four penalty kicks that he’s created. They weren’t little PKs, they were big PKs that unlocked the first goal. That’s what he brings. Obviously with every player there are strengths and weaknesses, but he brings that game-changing pace that he can just pull off something in a moment. I think that puts a little bit of fear in the opponent. All it takes is one ball where he presses or runs behind. I thought he was really unlucky in the second half to not score the cross. That’s the type of goal he should score. He gets in a really good spot, especially when we break the line wide and get an early cross in. It’s impossible to stop because we’re in behind them and it’s an early cross and he’s going to win that foot race, where he slashes in between the center backs every single time. That’s how he can score. He can score by getting in behind on breakaways, although there weren’t a ton of opportunities for that in this game until late. He can also score with his pressure. Those are the things we need him to do and he’s just got to finish the play, but I thought he was pretty good, especially early in the game in possession. That’s not normally his strength, but he held the ball and played around the corner a few times and he kept it. He knows he needs to finish a little bit better, but that will come. I was pleased with him overall."

On Diego Valeri’s impact in the match…
“That third goal was a great team goal. We score quite a few of those this year. Obviously there have been some games this year where we haven’t played this dominant way that we always like to play and prefer to play. A lot of that is due to personnel with the injuries we’ve had, but we clearly prefer to play the way we played tonight. That’s always been the way I’ve preferred to play. I thought that third goal was the epitome of that with our combination play. We work on that a lot. It was a great little sequence with [Sebastián] Blanco and Valeri. Those two guys are really clicking. I said it last year. Our wingers need to produce more and we’re getting good production. Blanco has been excellent. Valeri… I’m not even going to talk about him because there’s nothing to talk about. He should be the MVP.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco (through an interpreter)
On clinching a playoff spot…

“Very happy. Very happy with the performance of the whole team. I think the whole team understood the need and the importance of this game. It was very necessary we get the three points. That will give us a really good chance at perhaps winning the conference. We’re just looking forward to continuing and getting the results we need.”

On which of his two goals he preferred…
“I’ll start with the first one. The second one was just a little choppy. The first one was just a really good strike and these are the kinds of things you need at this time of the season to give you confidence and a lot of momentum going into the next game. I’d like to dedicate this to the fans.”

On what has been going so well for him on the field…
“It’s just a matter of keeping working at it. I know that I have been going through a little bit of a dry spell, but Diego [Valeri] has been picking up the slack of the team and that’s important for everybody. It’s good that I get to do this now, especially at this time of the season and just trying to help the team achieve the objectives we set at the beginning of the year.”

Portland Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala
On the offensive threat across the field for Portland…
“It’s very pleasant. We know that they are very talented. We just let them play their game and back them up. We’re just here to do the dirty jobs and let them shine because they do it so well. It’s very good for the team and for the club.”

On his defensive partnership with Liam Ridgewell…
“We just have the same goal: getting as many clean sheets as possible. That’s the target we have before we start every game and we communicate a lot to stay on the same page. It’s doing well at home for the moment and we hope we can keep the same performance away to the playoffs.”

On next weekend’s match against Vancouver with first place in the Western Conference on the line…
“We’re lucky to play here at home. We have fantastic fans here and we just give them back the love they give us. It’s going to be a big day on Sunday and we hope everybody is going to be happy at the end.”

Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella
On Portland’s attacking threat…
“We have good players, so for me it’s just fun to watch when they have the ball and especially when they’re attacking that way, for me it’s just fun to kind of sit back and celebrate when the ball goes in the net. A lot of credit goes to the guys in front of me tonight because they played extremely well.”

On playing against Vancouver next week for first place in the Western Conference…
“It’s why you play, right? It’s why we play at this level and obviously, we knew when the schedule came out it had the potential to be a pretty big one, so it’s shaping up to be fun and I’m just glad it’s at home and should be a bouncing atmosphere.”

On pushing towards the playoffs…
“MLS is crazy. It’s just up and down. Anyone can beat anyone on any given night. It’s easy to overreact about the course of a season when some results aren’t going your way, but it’s a long grind. It’s a really long grind and here we are with everything in front of us with one game left. Then all the fun’s about to start.”

D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen
On what went wrong in the match for D.C. United…
“What went wrong? I thought the first half was pretty good for the most part. We gift them a goal seconds before the halftime whistle. It brings them into the game, brings the crowd into the game. They had a little more life about them in the second half and again, the second half, we weren’t that competitive. But unfortunately we’re in a spot right now where this is an evaluation process. We’ll find out who can cut it and who can’t. That’s the reality.”

On the mentality and focus of the team heading into the final match…
“We’ll put this bed fairly quickly. They’re a great team. It’s a great venue. On any given day, they can be as good as any team in the league. Tough result, but easy to put behind us because we have a big game this weekend against New York with a lot of hype behind it. At least from our end. It’s a big deal. The game at R.F.K. [Stadium] means a lot to all our fans. So we’re looking to end the right way on Sunday against New York. We’re looking to build with some of the new guys. As a coach, I have the luxury to evaluate in a game like this. I see which guys a) want to be a part of this, b) can cut it against a very good team in a tough atmosphere against an athletic group. That part is something of real value right now. It’s tough to think about that in the moment because nobody likes to lose 4-0. But you step aside for a second and understand that with the evaluation process going on, seeing what guys on a day like this can hold up and do their part is a positive.”

On what players on his squad stood out to him tonight…
“I didn’t think many guys had great performances. You could tell [Zoltan] Steiber has a rare quality about his game. I thought the centerbacks held up okay, but there weren’t a lot of good performances on the day. Paul [Arriola]’s kind of made a name for himself with the national team, but he’s certainly been a good addition. Russell [Canouse] in the midfield. Ian Harkes has gotten a lot of experience this year and that’s a positive. It’s been some good and some things, certainly, he needs to improve on. Both physically and tactically. The evaluation process with some of the younger guys, we’re benefitting from that. Jalen Robinson has held up well in the times we’ve used him this year. There’s another young kid coming through, but it’s one thing to be young and promising, but these guys also have to realize how to win games and how to be at their best in big moments and tough moments. That part we can get better at and we will. It’s been a trying season, but the group’s a good one. The mentality is one I’m excited to work with and build on for next year.”

On what makes Portland a tough team…
“I think their athleticism was very evident today. I think the venue helps. It’s a fun place to come, great energy in this building. They’ve got good players. They’ve got good individual players all around the field. They’ve got depth. I certainly think they’re a team that could make a real run at this thing.”

D.C. United midfielder Russell Canouse
General thoughts on the match…
“I thought we started out well. We weathered the storm. We had some possession first half. Didn’t really make anything out of it. Had a couple chances. Would have been nice to go into halftime 0-0. Taking a goal like that isn’t the greatest. It’s tough. We tried to bring it together in halftime. Bring ourselves up, back to the way we started the game. Staying positive and stuff. Came out in the second half and had that second goal scored on us. It’s tough when you’re playing away like that in Portland. Fans are there supporting them. They have good players. Disappointing loss.”

On the threat Portland poses across the field…
“They have good players in there. Anyone can see that. They’ve scored in 20 games now consecutively. I thought we actually did a really, really good job clogging the midfield and then having chances to counter in the first half and we didn’t play them out clean enough. But defensively we were strong. Closing spaces down, cut [Diego] Valeri’s passing lanes out, but if you give a goal to that team, it’s tough to come back. They have quality.”

D.C. United midfielder Ian Harkes
General thoughts on the match…

“I thought we were very disciplined first half. We knew they were going to be very organized and try and swing us. Get to the wingers and really tuck them in so they could overload us on the wings, but I thought we dealt with that really well in the first half. I thought our possession could have been a little bit better, especially when we were breaking them down. We were rushing it a little bit in the first half, but obviously the momentum shifted right before the end of the first half, which hurt us. Then it was up to us to keep our discipline in the second half and we got a little too stretched and they took advantage of it.”

On what makes Portland a dangerous team…
“They have all the pieces. Solid backline and three very good midfielders. [Diego] Valeri obviously has been on fire this season. All of our focus was on him, but they have [Darlington] Nagbe and [Diego] Chara that balance it out well and a strong attack. They just pull you apart. Good organization and good shape. They’re a very patient team.”

On the mentality of the team after the second and third Portland goals were scored…
“It’s tough. It really deflates you. We were playing well, like I said, in the first half and the penalty is one thing, but then the two goals in the run of play. They were good finishes, but we could have dealt with it a little better. Taken those shots away. When they went in, obviously it’s tough to get everyone going again. Unfortunately we’ve been faced with that in the past.”

Notes:

  • Saturday’s game marked the 123rd consecutive sellout for the Timbers at Providence Park.
  • With the victory, Portland clinched a playoff berth for the third time in club history. Additionally, the Timbers clinched a top four playoff berth for the second time in the last three seasons.
  • The 4-0 win ranks tied as the Timbers largest margin of victory this season. The victory was also the largest win in a shutout for the club since Sept. 7, 2013. 
  • Diego Valeri scored his 21st goal of the season, extending his club record for goals in a single season. Valeri is second in MLS for most goals behind Chicago Fire striker Nemanja Nikolic. 
  • Valeri recorded two assists in the match, extending his season tally to 11. It is the third time Valeri has recorded 10 or more assists in a single MLS season (2013 and 2014). 
  • Valeri is the second player in MLS history to have at least 20 goals and 10 assists in the same season, joining Sebastian Giovinco (2015). 
  • Sebastián Blanco scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season. It was the first brace of Blanco's Portland career, with the midfielder scoring three goals in the club's last two matches. 
  • Blanco is the third Timbers player to score eight or more goals for the club in his first season in MLS, joining Valeri and Fanendo Adi. 
  • Alvas Powell scored his second goal of the season and the fourth of his Timbers career. 
  • Jeremy Ebobisse recorded his third assist of the season. Ebobisse is the 11th Timbers players to record at least three assists this season. 
  • In Liam Ridgewell's last 17 home starts, the club is 15-0-2 with 42 goals for and 13 goals against. 
  • Darren Mattocks drew a penalty kick for the fourth time this season. Only two players in MLS have drawn more penalty kicks in 2017. 
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