Giovanni Savarese, Timbers vs. Union, 8.5.20
(adidas Creators Network)

Quotes & Notes | Philadelphia Union 1, Portland Timbers 2 | Aug. 5, 2020

Portland Timbers Quotes
Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese

General thoughts on the match…
“Great performance from the players. Extremely proud of the way the guys were able to execute the plan. A lot of discipline. A lot of work. A lot of honesty in the game from the guys to make sure that we got a very important result. We created chances, we had opportunities, but then at the end the game became very tough. The guys were able to prevail and now we’re in the final. Credit to all the guys that worked so hard today to get a very important win.”

On the Timbers reaching the final of the MLS is Back Tournament…
“We don’t play for the commentators. We don’t play for the writers. We play for our fans, for ourselves, for the group, for our families. We have a tremendous belief in ourselves and we’re humble. We came here with a lot of humbleness to work, to make it difficult, to achieve something important and the guys have been able to do that. So all the hard work has been for our fans and everybody that believes in us, especially our families in Portland and the fans as well."

On the Timbers’ defense against Philadelphia…
“I not only think [Larrys] Mabiala, [Dario] Zuparic and the defense was consistent, I think everyone was consistent. The guys that started, the guys that came from the bench, everyone put their part in order to get a very important win. At the end we were able to score two goals on set pieces. We had opportunities. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize on those opportunities, but also, what we did defensively, we made it very difficult for a very good team. A team that I feel Jim [Curtin] has done a great job to get all the way to here. At the end, I think we deserved this win because we made it very difficult and we found two good goals to now move to the final. But it’s credit to the guys for the hard work that they put in today.”

On the game plan the Timbers had against Philadelphia…
“The guys executed the plan in a perfect way. The associations we had in the side to make sure that [Philadelphia] didn’t penetrate. The hard work in the middle with everybody, starting with the two up top, [Diego] Valeri and [Jeremy Ebobisse], making sure the balls didn’t go through, that [Philadelphia’s] midfielders didn’t get the ball. That there were no balls around the center and switch the point of attack. There were a few times that they were able to find those spaces, but they were very rare because of the discipline of the group. The group, how compact they were through the entire lines and once we got the ball, we became dangerous. We kept the ball, we were able to go forward, we created chances. There were a few moments in which [Philadelphia] was able to find those spaces and make it difficult on us, but I think the guys did a fantastic job to stay disciplined and keeping compact and [Philadelphia] didn’t have too many chances that I can recall. Especially in the balls in behind our defenders, they were not able to find too many. Our guys did a fantastic job.”

On Sebastián Blanco’s performance…
“Seba has been showing what he has shown in practice on a consistent basis. He has come to this tournament with more maturity, with a calmness, so that’s why we’ve been able to see what he can execute. But this team, as we have been preaching all this time, is not only based around one person. It’s about the strength of the group. Even though Seba has been clinical and very important, everybody has contributed to the success that we have had so far. We still have one more to go. We have to still work very hard for that last game that we have. But Seba, no doubt, has been very important in this tournament and for this club. As well as other important players like [Jeremy Ebobisse], [Diego] Valeri, [Diego] Chara, and everybody plays their role into the success of the team.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri
On what this final game means with the uncertainty of the rest of the year...
“It means a lot for us, always. You want to be in a final when you compete in a tournament. It was one of our goals when we arrived here in the bubble, so we’ll maybe make it happen. Today, I think the performance was great, we could’ve been more clinical in the chances we had after the second goal. Overall it was a great performance, and it would mean a lot for me in this part of my career to get back to Portland with another trophy for our families and for our supporters.”

On what is behind the Timbers’ success in knockout matches...
“It's the quality of the whole group, the coaching staff and the players, all the sacrifice, all the energy to make this club bigger, and knowing that all happens on the field and that’s it. So, besides all the stuff around our environment, we are very focused on our job, to prepare every game and execute during the game. So, it’s one more step, and we know that still we have one more game to get the trophy.”

On the potential of returning to the CONCACAF Champions League...
“It’s going to be amazing. I think it's a type of tournament you always want to be in, it's not easy to get in. It takes a long time during a regular season, and now we have one game to go. So besides winning the tournament, I think it’s an extra motivation for me personally, I love that kind of international competition. I think it's a lot of prestige for the club and for the league, and you always want to be in, and it’s going to be the third time so I really want to make it happen, and play another time.”

On what is unique about the Timbers’ coaching staff to create such success...
“As you have more trainings, more games, you can work much better on your principles and concepts and the coaching staff is very clear on that. We work over those principles and concepts all the time. Of course, you can do it much better on the field as you know each other with time, and I think that is a part of our success. Obviously every game has a different kind of strategy, but always under those concepts and principles, and we all have the same mindset which is to make this club and this team better every game and every season, and that’s the strength of this group.”

Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse
On how it feels to be in the championship...
“It’s a great feeling. We came here with one goal and that’s to lift the trophy at the end of the tournament, and now we're one game away. All the work that we’ve put in, and all the sacrifice that we’ve put in is all starting to pay off, and we’ve got 90 more minutes, and we’ve got a full team ready to step in. As you’ve seen tonight and you’ve seen in the previous nights the strength of our group is in the collective, the guys that are coming off the bench, the guys that are being rotated in and out of the team, everyone has come in and put in a shift, and that’s why we’ve gotten to this point. We’re used to being in this bubble life, we’ve done preseason in Costa Rica and have been away from our families for extended periods of time, so I just think that through this whole tournament we’ve grown stronger and more bonded together.”

On what is unique about the Timbers’ coaching staff to create such success...
“The strength is in our group, but ultimately we played to our strengths on the field as well, which has been limiting space, and then working off of that defensively when we could, but then we also have the freedom and the confidence of the whole staff to express ourselves on the ball. That’s why we take risks in the final third, whether it’s trying to beat someone on the dribble, trying to make a run in the box that maybe might put you out of position defensively. There’s a trust within the coaching staff to the players and most of the players on the field that if we take risks, because we’re good players and we can make plays, that we’ll have each other’s back. The togetherness of the group that we’ve fostered over the last couple years has been really special, guys that have come in have fit in seamlessly, and now you’re starting to see more and more the benefits of what we’ve put together as a group. Hopefully, we have a different script than the 2018 final, but I think it shows to the resilience of this group that we’re ready to go for the final just two years later.”

Notes

  • The Timbers advanced to their fourth tournament final as a club, joining the 1975 NASL Soccer Bowl, the 2015 MLS Cup and the 2018 MLS Cup.
  • Wednesday’s match was the 35th elimination match as a manager in Giovanni Savarese's managerial career with the Timbers and New York Cosmos. His record in those matches is 22-11-2.
  • Sebastián Blanco has been directly involved in eight of the Timbers’ 12 goals at the tournament, recording three goals and five assists.
  • Blanco has recorded a goal or an assist in all six matches in the tournament. His six consecutive matches with a goal or assist is the longest streak of his Portland career.
  • Blanco is the only player with three or more goals and three or more assists (five) in the competition.
  • Dario Zuparic registered his first career assist with the Timbers.
  • Zuparic is the eighth player to tally an assist in the tournament for Portland.
  • Portland recorded its fifth consecutive win in all competitions against Philadelphia, improving to 7-1-3 in the all-time series against the Union.
  • Diego Valeri has five career assists against the Union in all competitions, which is the most by Valeri against any Eastern Conference opponent.
  • Valeri delivered two assists in the match. It is the 16th time in all competitions that Valeri has had multiple assists in a match for the Timbers.
  • Jeremy Ebobisse scored his fourth goal of the MLS is Back Tournament. Ebobisse is tied for third-most goals in the competition.
  • Ebobisse has seven goals from headers in MLS competitions since the beginning of the 2019 season, which is tied for the most in that time span with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
  • Goalkeeper Steve Clark made seven saves, which is tied for the second-most Clark has made in a single match for the Timbers.
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