Zarek Valentin, Timbers vs RSL, 10.21.18
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Timbers 3, Real Salt Lake 0 | Oct. 21, 2018

Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese
On his first playoff berth with the Timbers...

"Good afternoon, and it feels good. It feels good because it has been hard work during the entire season and the guys have worked very hard to get to this point. So, I'm very proud of them because you know you put all this work from preseason, you go on five matches away from home at the beginning, and the guys fought all the way through and today was a very good performance, a great result for us, very important for us to have clinched the playoffs, and I'm extremely proud of everyone in the club – the players, the staff, everyone that works so hard to accomplish this. Now, one more match to play in Vancouver and now we can talk about the playoffs, but we have one more, you know two goals I guess, Vancouver – that is going to be very important for us, but a great accomplishment today."

On his decision to play a 4-2-3-1 against RSL again...
"We decided to go the same way, we expect to see things different from RSL, which we worked on, but I still felt we had to go with a similar formation with a few little tweaks in the formation. But you know good performance and Liam [Ridgewell] had a very good match, but all around everybody had a great performance. This period was great and three goals against a difficult team."

On Steve Clark's performance...
"Very important saves in key moments and he kept us there so it was very, very important because they had a few very good opportunities in the second half especially, and Clark did a great job to keep us in the game and then give us the chance to be able to get back and find the other goals. We had to be a little bit better in the second half, there was a moment in which I think they got a little bit of control of the game and I think as soon as we found the second goal we were able to find more spaces going forward. But we have to be a little sharper in some areas and we had, I think, a fantastic first half, and the second half could've been a little bit better."

On Jeremy Ebobisse's performance...
"I've always said that forwards need to work hard and to make sure they help defensively and then that they can also give us the way to find opportunities going forward. Jebo [Jeremy Ebobisse] worked very, very hard through the entire match to be available, to match up to hold the ball, to link up, to attack the spaces, to create chances, and also go all the way back to midfield to make sure that they didn't find the midfielders and that was very important from his part and from Valeri's part as well. Unfortunately he tried to find some things in there and he couldn't, but his performance was very good today."

On how he managed RSL's momentum in the second half...
"I think we had to adjust to the fact that they brought Lennon a little bit higher and that was causing us a little bit of a problem, that's why we switched Seba [Blanco] and [Andy] Polo to the other side, and I think the problem that we were having was more that when we won the ball we gave it right away back to them and that created a little bit of a momentum that they were on us continuously. We had to be better in keeping the ball in those moments, especially when you're defending, now something you have to adapt to, but once we found the second goal then we adjusted well. Even though they still had chances I thought we had more control of the match again." 

On what caused the momentum shift in the start of the second half...
"I think it was combination of things. We gave the ball a little too easy, they pressured some areas that forced us to give the ball away. But all around, nevertheless, even though they had those few minutes in the second half, the performance and the work ethic and mentality was very good today."

On the way the team started the match... 
"We were very good in the first half. We forced the ball to where we wanted, they made mistakes, we closed spaces very well, and when we went forward we created opportunities and we found a very important goal in a key moment. I'm just very content and proud of not only about the three points today, but what they have done through the entire season to make, now, the playoffs."

On the team's momentum going into the playoffs...
"One game at a time. It's been two good games, now we have another one to play, and we just have to continue to work very hard."

Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco
On the meaning of wearing the supporter’s belt…

“I am very happy because it’s a prize for the people. The support of the people for me is the best because they can see all the efforts inside the field at all times, so it makes me happy and I say ‘thank you so much.’”

On the feeling of going to the playoffs…
“We need to continue to work because now we have a tough game for the last game of the season and for the playoffs and that’s a very tough game. We don’t know with whom, but we need to prepare very hard so we can rest this week but we are ready for the next game.”

On playing the last game of the regular season away from home…
“The last two [away] games we showed a different level, a different system and a different spirit and I think we need to continue to work the same way.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara
On the meaning of today’s victory…
“Very important because we qualified to the postseason. The team’s mentality was to accomplish this and we achieved it. Now we will prepare for the playoffs.”

On Portland’s next game against Vancouver Whitecaps FC…
“We will prepare the same way we have prepared until now. I think we will be able to position ourselves in a better position in the standings. That is the objective, to finish up in the best way possible.”

Portland Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark
On the key saves he made at the game…

“You just let your reactions take over. So, you know, I’ve always, luckily in my career, come up with those saves, so I’m going to enjoy that tonight. You got to take a deep breath and enjoy the smell of the roses after a game like this.”

On this journey so far with the Timbers…
“You come to a club like this where you are taken care of and there is just an amazing fan base. You know, it’s been a real dream come true and a great chapter in my career. I’m very grateful.”

On clinching a spot in the postseason…
“It was good to clinch but now we are moving onto things and we’ve got to get points in Vancouver. There is no time to take too big of a break and enjoy it but for tonight we will and then it’s back to work.”

Portland Timbers midfielder David Guzman (translated)
On qualifying to the playoffs…

“It’s very important because the group wanted to accomplish that goal. Today we faced a difficult game because Real Salt Lake also wanted the points, but we were organized and executed what we planned throughout the week. We had a really good second half and were able to qualify to the postseason.”

On his contribution to the team… 
“It is very important to play after coming back from playing with the national team because I feel more confident and play a lot better. I wanted to help the team qualify to the postseason and feel very happy about today’s result.”

On the team’s trust ahead of the postseason…
“The team is very calm, yet happy because we wanted to make it to the playoffs without complications. We are trying to take one step at the time because there is still one more game in the regular season. It is important to focus on getting three points next match so we can then start thinking about the playoffs.”

Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke
General thoughts on the match…

“First half was, to me, a continuation of the last time we played [Portland]. Second half we turned it on. Had some clear cut chances, didn’t convert them, and pushed players forward, made some tactical adjustments with less guys in the back and [Portland] got a third goal. Overall, second half I’m proud of the guys. Now it is what it is. There’s a one-in-a-million chance now that we get to the playoffs. That’s it.”

On the performance of Timbers’ goalkeeper Steve Clark in the second half…
“Of course. Had we not dropped one, two points at home this year when we did, even though we had a very good home record. We didn’t let one or two games slip away, this would have been a non-factor. Could have been, would have been, it’s not just about tonight. He had two great saves on those shots. Again, we didn’t find the back of the net.”

On areas that Portland found to exploit Real Salt Lake…
“Well in the first half, they were the ones again, like the first game, their urgency, stepping up, closing down, giving us no room to play. Our bit of lack of off-ball movement, which is what we really talked about and worked on. In the second half, obviously it was better. Where they found spaces, it’s not so much that they found space, it was our lack of clogging that space up and our lack of shifting together, whereas second half it was better.”

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman
General thoughts on the match…

“We knew it was going to be highly contested. We just came out on the short end of the stick today.”

On what the Timbers were able to do to break down Real Salt Lake…
“Anytime you give a goal on a set-piece, that’s something we try to pride ourselves on, not giving away goals on set-pieces, so that unlocked the game a little bit, giving up a set-piece goal. But I thought coming out in the second half, we had quite a few good chances to tie it up, which could have changed the game. Momentum could have got on our side and we weren’t able to finish. Steve Clark had unbelievable saves to really hold down that 1-0 lead and ultimately give them time to get that second [goal].”

On possible frustration to have to wait on a potential playoff spot…
“Yeah, it’s disappointing. We had a really good feeling this week, coming in. Good practice. We just weren’t able to get it done on the weekend. It’s not a good place to be. We’re going to be the biggest Houston Dynamo fans there’s ever been and we’ll be rooting them on and hopefully they can help us out.”

Notes:

  • The Timbers clinched a spot in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs with the victory, securing a postseason berth in consecutive seasons for the first time as an MLS club. Dating back to its USL era, it is the first time Portland has qualified for the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 2009 and 2010.
  • The 2018 season marks the 15th time Portland has qualified for the playoffs across all eras, dating back to 1975.
  • With 15 wins, head coach Giovanni Savarese is now tied for the third-most wins by a head coach in his first year as an MLS head coach.
  • Portland recorded its 10th shutout overall and its eighth shutout at Providence Park this season. The team’s 10 shutouts ranks as the fourth-most in MLS in 2018, while its eight home clean sheets ranks tied for the second-most in the league.
  • The Timbers conceded just 13 goals in 17 home matches in 2018, which ranks as the third-fewest home goals allowed in MLS and the fewest allowed among Western Conference teams.
  • Portland is the third MLS team to have 11 home wins in three consecutive seasons, joining FC Dallas (2014-16) and LA Galaxy (2013-15).
  • Sebastián Blanco has recorded a goal or an assist in four consecutive appearances (4g, 3a), tallying four goals and six assists in his last eight games.
  • Blanco delivered his 11th assist of the season. Blanco is the second Timbers player this season to have 10 or more goals and 10 or more assists, joining Diego Valeri. 
  • Portland improved to 2-0-0 against Real Salt Lake in 2018, outscoring Real Salt Lake, 7-1. Notably, five different players (Larrys Mabiala, Blanco, Jeremy Ebobisse, Lucas Melano, Diego Chara) scored goals at Real Salt Lake this season.
  • Mabiala tallied his fifth goal of the season. His five goals rank as the most among defenders in MLS this season and the most by a Timbers defender in a single season.
  • Blanco and Valeri are the fourth set of teammates since 2000 and eighth set of teammates in MLS history to each have double-digit goals and double-digit assists in the same season.
  • Chara recorded his second goal of the season. The two goals tie Chara’s career high for goals in a single season with 2011, 2014 and 2015.
  • Valeri delivered his 12th assist of the season. The 12 assists are Valeri’s most in a single season since 2014.
  • Lucas Melano recorded his first assist of the season. Melano now has nine career assists for Portland.
  • Steve Clark earned his fourth win in six starts for the Timbers in 2018.
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