Sebastian Blanco, Timbers vs. Nashville, 3.8.20
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Quotes & Notes | Portland Timbers 1, Nashville SC 0 | Mar. 8, 2020

Portland Timbers Quotes
Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese

General thoughts on the match…

“First of all, the most important thing was for us to make sure that we got a win, to get three points. The guys battled to make sure that we achieved that. They were disciplined to make sure that we didn’t get scored against us. There was a lot of work that went into that. A lot of unity and defensively we gave everything that we needed to make sure that we didn’t allow any goals. Offensively in the first half we created some opportunities. The second half was a little more difficult. Still we were able to accomplish what we needed which was the win. Sometimes, these types of games, they’re not pretty, but the important thing is the three points that we needed. Defending last week in which we lost discipline in the second half and as good as we played in the first half, we needed these three points at home especially.”

On the changes he made to the starting lineup…
“[Jorge] Moreira, after practice was feeling some pain in his knee, so most likely we’ll put out a release which will explain what will be the next step for Moreira. We just felt that we needed to put a player that can join into attack, that had a little bit more mobility to be able to find spaces. We changed a couple things tactically to make sure that we were a little more secure and didn’t allow counters to come and we did a good job to make sure that didn’t happen. We lost a little bit of possession in the second half… a lot I would say. Credit to Nashville. They’re an expansions team, but they have good ideas. They showed it against Atlanta as well, in the second half that they can keep the ball. But ultimately the important thing for us is to make sure they didn’t capitalize on anything that they were trying to create and we looked dangerous in some moments when we tried to counter, but unfortunately couldn’t find it in the second half. Better play than in the first, but at the end, three points that we very much needed at this moment.”

On Nashville’s pressure in the second half…
“I think our discipline today played also a part in the second half to make sure that we didn’t expose ourselves. They were able to get some of those balls on rebounds, but if you look at it, they were not opportunities. It’s not that we allowed them to create any chances as much as the possession that they had. At the end of the day, for us it was important to make sure we trust ourselves. Yes we don’t want to give the ball away. Sometimes we missed some passes in some moments that could have given us more of the possession that we needed in those moments. But overall, again, three points that were very necessary and it came with a lot of discipline from the team and very glad the way the guys worked hard to get this result.”

On the performance of Portland’s two center defenders…
“They’re going to be busy when a team tries to be direct and balls are coming your way. So that’s normal. You’re going to be busy because that’s how [Nashville] was trying to play from start, then the second half, middle, end, they tried to keep the ball more, but of course our guys were busy because of that reason. They showed a lot of composure. They didn’t give up any moments of distraction and at the end they defended very well. Not only the two of them, but the entire team.”

On Diego Valeri’s performance…
“Thank you because it was important to show how good he finished a goal that was not only important for us to get the win, but it’s quite a goal. Incredible. Just a masterpiece. He is capable of doing those things. It was a very important play in which he found the right space and the finish was fantastic. What an amazing goal from him and in the end, a goal that gave us what we needed. As long as we don’t give up anything in the back, I know that we’re a team that can create and find always a moment to be able to score.”

On improvements he wants to see from the Timber’s offense…
“We don’t need to do anything offensively. What we need to do, maybe, is in the second half, keep the ball a little more, try to move it. But the moments we were able to get in the box, we created opportunities. We created chances. That’s not something we need to work. Of course we work on a constant basis to be better, but it’s not a concern. We know that we’re a team that can score goals. Important thing for us today was make sure there were no goals against and that we got a win and that’s what the guys were able to accomplish.”

On Dax McCarty’s performance…
“First, Dax is a good player. He’s a veteran. He’s been in the league a long time so credit to him to connect so many passes. But I don’t recall one pass that was an opportunity to goal. So if you tell me that I’d rather that they connect 100 passes, but they don’t create anything. So at the end, credit to our players that they were able  to make sure that nothing was created. So for us, we take it. We take this win and we build from here.”

On the Timber’s organization donating ticket sales to support victims of the Nashville tornado…
“It’s our part. Our hearts go to all those that were unfortunately in that situation with the tornado in Nashville. We felt it was our duty to support them with the tickets and part of what is going to help those people that suffer. That’s why we put something on our shirt because we want to be a part of supporting all of them. I think it was the classy thing to do because you want no one to go through that and our prayers and thoughts are with those people that unfortunately went through this difficult moment.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri
On his thoughts on scoring the game-winning goal…
“It makes me happy because you always want to keep improving with the points in your pocket and winning games. It makes you calmer in scouting the games and to prepare for the next one. Being an attacking player, I’m happy to win a game 1-0 if one is enough to win the game, but obviously there’s a lot of things we have to improve to feel better on the field and the way the game is being played. It’s always much, much better to go into the next game with the points in your pocket.”

On whether or not he knew he was onside for his goal…
“I didn’t. I didn’t want to celebrate, just in case. When I saw [the linesman] after I kicked it, I realized it was going to be onside. I was so happy about it because I always want the ball in the net.”

On the Timber’s organization donating ticket sales to support victims of the Nashville tornado…
“The Timbers organization is a mirror of what this community is about. It’s about solidarity, always trying to help people that are affected and it doesn’t surprise me. I think it was a great opportunity to show what this organization is about.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco
On his thoughts of the game…
“To win it’s always important. Also, to get three valuable points at home. However, there is still a lot to improve on because we did not play a good match tonight. It is normally easier to improve after a win. The team still put a lot of effort out there today but I think we still need to continue improving.”

On the differences between last week’s match and today’s game against Nashville…
“I personally think last game we played a really good match, especially in the first half. Even though then we got hurt in the counterattack, I think we tried to dominate our rival. Now, what I rescue from today’s game is the effort and the three points. I think we should be more a team that combines what we did well last week in the first half with what we did today in terms of effort.”

On the difficulties he faced against Nashville…
“You always try to be strong mentally, but after a match like today where you don’t get a lot of time with the ball and it’s difficult to find space attacking, then you have to work twice as hard because even though this is not ideal, you have to do it to win the match.”

Portland Timbers defender Chris Duvall
On when he found out he was going to start against Nashville SC…
“I found out yesterday after training, and it’s not my first one so it’s just kind of the same thought process. I had to go through the scout, understand the player I’m playing against, understand our game plan and just focus on what’s happening next.”

On his feelings after the final whistle…
“I think, at least for a defender, those 1-0 results feel the best. Sometimes you bend and you don’t break, and to get a [shutout] victory at home, especially in my first start with the team, it felt really good.”

On how he thought the defense played…
“It definitely wasn’t perfect. We still have a long way to go. We gave up some pretty good chances, especially late. We sat very deep and allowed them to have a little bit of the ball, but just to come home with the clean sheet is very important and it’s a stepping stone to whatever happens next.”

On the Timber’s organization donating ticket sales to support victims of the Nashville tornado…
“I think anytime you see something that affects a city like that, it’s a time you see people come together. To see the Timbers organization be a part of that and to promote that and to try to do what they can to help [Nashville] is an amazing thing.”

Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith
General thoughts on the match...
“We’re very disappointed of course. I thought after a difficult 10 minutes... in fact, we started off very, very brightly, and the goal I think was almost on the stroke of 10 minutes and it was a real kick in the teeth at that point, avoidable I felt from our point of view. The response was fantastic. The majority of the game we looked in control, created some very nice openings, limited them to very little again and somehow, someway, they’ve been able to keep their goal intact and come away with the points, which is a big disappointment for us. I felt with all the efforts that we showed out there today we deserved something out of the game and unfortunately, we’re going to have to dig deep and push on. There’s a lot of good things going on, unfortunately, no points to show for.”

On outshooting Portland 14-3...
“I have no idea what their mindset and tactics were once they went one-nil up. I mean they’re the home side, I would’ve imagined that internally they’d had felt that they could have pushed on and won the game. However, some of our play, possession, ability to keep them under pressure, to keep asking questions and to put ourselves into some good areas was very good and maybe that had an impact on the way that they played. From our standpoint, and that’s really the only way that I can look at it, I’m absolutely delighted with the efforts of the players, the attitude of the players to come to such a difficult environment and to dictate a large portion of the game is I think a testament to the way that this team’s growing. The disappointment and frustration will always come out of not being able to add points to the board. And we’re now two weeks in, we conceded three efforts on our goal last week and I think only one effort today on target. That stat alone, if it continues surely has to reap dividends for our group. The area that I’ve been most concerned about at this point is of course in front of the opposing goal. We’ve created enough opportunities and sights of goal to come away with something for our endeavors. And unfortunately, we haven’t and that’s a little bit of an issue for us.”

On if it’s only a matter of time before the team starts scoring goals...
“Well, I hope so, of course. What I would say is, any coach or any team would be disappointed if they’re not creating chances. The creation obviously leads to those moments that can make a difference in a game. We are creating chances, we are getting in good areas, we are mounting good pressure and we’re asking some serious questions of some real experienced teams here. Portland are a very, very good side. In our first year, in our second game, I think we can all feel very good about ourselves in terms of the way that we’ve played and conducted ourselves on this occasion. It won’t make me feel any better when I wake up in the morning and know we haven’t got any points out of it.”

On finally playing after the recent catastrophic events in Nashville last week...
“The guys have dealt with some of the difficulties back in Nashville extremely well. We had two or three players that were affected by the tornado. What we all know is that there are plenty of families that have been affected and are in a far more difficult position than any of us are and you know, all of our best wishes and feelings go out to those people who’ve lost family members and even if they haven’t, maybe their home. So I think the guys have focused well but in terms of the damage that’s been done to some of the communities, I’m sure there’s still plenty of work to get them back on track. We’ll do our utmost to support that as well.”

On what the team has done to help out the community...
“Well we have players down in that area that were affected and there have been numerous things that the club has tried to do to support…even clearing debris, even supporting some of the families that need some help and offering some sort of guidance and you know just a connection sometimes with a community to point people in the right direction. But some of the guys have obviously left early or in mid-part of the week and we’ll go back and see what we can to try and support the effort when we get there.”

Nashville SC midfielder Dax McCarty
General thoughts on the match...
“Incredibly frustrating, obviously, to come away with nothing. Again it’s a little bit like deja vu, kind of like last week. It feels like right now teams are… we’re not giving teams many chances and they’re punishing us in the worst possible way by conceding world-class goals left and right. Emerson Hyndman scored one, full-volley top-corner last week, Diego Valeri this week and I don’t remember another game where Joe Willis having too much to do and yet another week where we control most of the play from 18 to 18 and we just can’t find the equalizer. [We were] not sharp enough in the attacking third to get it done so plenty of work to do, plenty of positives that come out of the game of course, but we’re sitting here after two games on zero points feeling like we deserved a lot more.”

On the team settling down after conceding the opening goal...
“We’re really organized and even before the first goal we weren’t too bothered. We did not feel too threatened. We had a couple of sloppy giveaways in the midfield and that’s kind of their bread and butter, that’s what they want. They want you to turn the ball over so they can get their runners out, [Diego] Valeri and [Sebastian] Blanco and [Felipe] Mora and Chara and they want to be able to hit you in transition and they did but they weren’t dangerous. Again, I don’t remember Joe Willis having too much to do on the night and then, of course, the goal comes out of nothing, a couple of crosses, maybe a second ball that gets re-directed in the box, we don’t step our lines up fast enough and I mean what can you say, Diego Valeri does what Diego Valeri does, it’s just an incredible finish. He’s one of the best our league has ever seen and again, I don’t remember him being involved in the game other than that one play. So it doesn’t feel any better, me talking about how well we did to neutralize their attackers and how I felt like in one of the hardest places to play we pretty much had control of the game, created enough chances to enough equalize and get out of here with a point and you would say probably more. But, we’re scratching our head trying to figure out how we haven’t gotten anything out of these two games. No one’s going to feel sorry for us, we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves. Going to get back to training and continue to work on the things that will make us a better team and if we can sharpen up in both boxes, we can be better in the 18-yard box to keep a shutout and also take advantage of some of the chances we’re creating, we’re going to be fine. Just getting that first win under our belt is always the most difficult one to get.”

On finally playing in a game after the events in Nashville last week...
“It’s emotional for sure. We wanted to win this game not only because it’s important to start our season off on the right foot and to get that first win under our belt but we’re playing for a lot more than just ourselves and just our club. We’re playing for a whole city that’s reeling right now and going through a really difficult time with the tornado and the families that lost loved ones and even the communities that lost homes. This is a really tight-knit city that has embraced our team. It’s a city that’s embraced me and my family and our team is going to do the same. We’re going to continue to embrace our community and make sure they know that we’re going to continue to fight until we have success in this league and hopefully that starts next week at Toronto.”

Nashville SC forward Daniel Rios
General thoughts on the match...
“I think we controlled most part of the game but obviously we need to complete our opportunities. We need to score goals and we have to keep playing like this but with more intensity.”

On playing in a soccer match following the recent tornado in Nashville...
“It’s not easy. I have a lot of things in my mind right now but soccer is my life, it’s what I love. Even with that tornado I always have something on my mind, I’m trying to be focused like last week and today… I just try to deal with it and stay the most focused I can.”

Notes:

  • Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese recorded his 30th regular-season victory as an MLS coach in the match.
  • Nashville SC is the 108th club that Portland has faced since their original 1975 season.
  • Diego Valeri is the second Timbers player in the club’s MLS era and the fifth in all eras of the club to score in each of the club’s first two games of the season.
  • Nashville is the 22nd different MLS team that Valeri has scored against in his career with Portland.
  • Valeri is one of eight MLS players to have scored in multiple games this season.
  • Chris Duvall made his Timbers debut in the match, starting and playing 90 minutes.
  • Andy Polo delivered his first assist of the season and the fourth of his Timbers career.
  • Steve Clark registered the ninth shutout of his career with Portland, which is tied for the 10th most clean sheets in team history.
  • Jeremy Ebobisse has played in 55 consecutive matches in all competitions, dating back to the 2017 season.
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