Dario Zuparic, Larrys Mabiala, Timbers vs. Orlando, 8.11.20
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Quotes & Notes | Portland Timbers 2, Orlando City SC 1 | Aug. 11, 2020

MLS POST-GAME QUOTES
Portland Timbers vs. Orlando City SC
MLS is Back Tournament Final
Aug. 11, 2020 – ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (Orlando, Fla.)
Final: Portland Timbers 2, Orlando City SC 1

Portland Timbers Quotes
Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese
Reaction to winning the MLS is Back Tournament…
“There’s a great feeling to achieve this in this tournament. A historical moment for our club. Credit to the players because they came here with a purpose. From the moment we came here from Portland, the mindset was to make sure that we win one game at a time and everybody demonstrated, game-by-game, that the unity that we have, the maturity that they showed, the way they went into every single game, achieving this has been a huge accomplishment. Especially in a final that was very complicated, against a very good team, Orlando, well-coached. Not easy, but the guys were able to make sure that we executed the plan. We were able to get a great victory and now we’re able to lift the trophy and, the most important part, being able to qualify for the Concacaf Champions League.”

On Portland’s tactical plan against Orlando…
“It was exactly as we expected. We knew they are a very good team. They do plan games in a very good way. They have principles, but in their principles, they also tweak a couple of things depending whoever they play. As I said before, Óscar [Pareja] is a very good coach. So, we expected the game to be very difficult. I thought our game plan was executed well. We closed the spaces through the middle, didn’t allow them to penetrate too many times. We knew their combinations on top of the box. We knew that they’re dangerous with their wide players, with their full-back on the right side, on the left side with Nani. I thought the guys did a great job to make sure that we didn’t allow [Orlando] to get into those spaces that they can hurt us. I think the first, probably, 20 minutes were the most difficult. Then little-by-little, we started getting the ball a little more, moving it around, getting a little more possession, attacking spaces in behind, being more dangerous. Scoring the first goal was a very important sign for us to feel that we were following the right path to be able to get on the right side of the game. Second half I thought that we did even better. We created chances, so I thought the performance of the players, the way they executed the plan was very well done. We played against a very good team that we knew was going to pose a very difficult challenge.”

On what the tournament and the win means to him…
“Every tournament, every season that you play, every moment that you compete is special when you achieve something important. This tournament, we came here with a purpose. I thought the quality of the teams that came here was above expectations. The way it was organized, with some concerns at the beginning, but then at the end, MLS doing a great job to put together an unbelievable tournament, which I think achieved so much for the fans that were looking forward to seeing their team. For us, it’s going to be a great memory because it’s special. It’s unique. Being able to lift this trophy that gives us, right now, the possibility to compete outside the United States in the Concacaf Champions League. It’s a special feeling. Who knows if there will be another tournament like this? But at least we feel proud that we were able to get this one and bring another trophy to Portland, back to our fans.”

On the trip back to Portland after being away from their families for so long…
“Of course. It’s been so long. We want to see our families. We want to see them. They’ve done so much. A lot of sacrifice. It hasn’t been easy. As I said before, we came here with a purpose. We were very content around the players, the staff, the togetherness was incredible. It felt very much like the run [to MLS Cup] of 2018 because the guys were very fresh mentally. If there was another match, I can tell you, the guys would be up too, because the guys wanted to make sure that we went back with something important. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been long, but again credit to MLS because I think we felt very secure inside the bubble and the tournament was very competitive and we’re very glad that we were able to go all the way and lift the trophy.”

On what the tournament has been like for the team and being able to end it with a trophy…
“It hasn’t been easy, but we felt very secure. We felt, as I said before, that MLS did a great job to make sure that we were in this bubble and we were able to feel that our minds could concentrate on competing besides anything else. I think for us it was great being inside to watch so many matches as well. We’re looking for every single day, waking up early to watch the game in the morning, watching the two games after, having chats with colleagues, looking at the whole MLS, entire teams being here. I think it was a monumental event that ended up being amazing. For us to be able to go all the way and win this great tournament, we feel very proud. All-around, credit to the players, credit to MLS and as well, Orlando did very well to arrive all the way to this stage and it was a very difficult match today.”

On how the Timbers will take this achievement forward as MLS regular season play resumes…
“We have to go back to the quarantine time and the guys have been so disciplined to follow everything that we asked of them. Our video chats, our talks to make sure that we were all on the same page in our principles, the way they worked out in individual training, the fixed training, coming here, going one day at a time. A week like this week that basically we only had a chance to train once in a week because of the rain. So, there were a lot of challenges mentally that I think our players showed to be very strong in that area. I’m very proud of the accomplishment. Now we will enjoy tonight. We will enjoy tomorrow and the trip back and then our lives will be back again to start thinking about what is coming next. We want to be competitive. We want to make sure that we leave a good legacy as a club. Every single match that we play and that we’re always contenders to any competition that there will be. We hope to continue to be strong and now we’re going to go into a season, but we’ll enjoy this tonight and tomorrow and then we’ll start thinking about what is coming next.”

Portland Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala
On his partnership with Dario Zuparic throughout the tournament...
“Dario Zuparic is a very good player, and he meshed very well in the collection that we have, and we speak the same football. He played in Italy, so he is very on point tactically, he understood right away what Gio [head coach Giovanni Savarese] was asking us and the rest of the team. So it’s been easy for him to fit in with the team, and it’s been easy for me as well to have him alongside me, because as I said he’s a very good player and he brings a lot to the defensive backline.”

On the circumstantial hardships of this tournament...
“The more difficult the fight is, the more beautiful the victory is at the end. We’ve been through many difficult games, especially for the last two that we had to play. They tested us very hard, but the fact that we’ve been through these two oppositions shows that we have a lot of personality and character. In the quarantine we’ve been talking a lot about what we wanted to accomplish and how we wanted to play, obviously we wanted to play better today, but at the end of the day you don’t play finals, you’re just winning, and we’ll just remember the winner of this MLS Is Back tournament.”

On continuing the strong defensive backline into the rest of the season...
“You know it's not really only me, or the backline, I mean Sebá [Sebastián Blanco] today played very low, he helped us a lot, and should win the MVP, this is another conversation, but it's a team effort. It’s not only the backline or myself, and we built on we’ve been able to accomplish in this tournament. We will bring that to the next games, but will first enjoy what we did in this tournament, and rest a little bit, and then focus for the next week.”

On what being in the bubble has been like, and how it feels to come away with a trophy…
“Going back before the tournament started, we had this conversation between us and we just told ourselves, we aren’t going to leave our families for so long [without getting the trophy]. Personally I have three kids and two toddlers, and the last 10 days have been very hard because I had my son calling me every morning crying, asking me when I was going to come back, so it’s been tough. When we had these conversations, we just told ourselves we need to make it worth it, we don’t want to go back to our houses without a trophy. That was the most important thing to us, and we’re just happy to have the job done.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco
On how this tournament compares to the MLS Cup, and playing in the Concacaf Champions League...
[Through translator] “Absolutely, each game is different, each tournament is different. I've said this in the past, this would be something very special for the team to be able to play an international tournament, because it would give the team prestige, and that’s something we’re looking forward to. But absolutely, we're not going to be complacent and we definitely want to go for more. A lot of people might think this is easy, but it’s definitely not. I’m very proud of my team, I’m very proud of the fight that we gave to all the matches. In this kind of tournament, it’s definitely going to bring some international attention. This is a tournament that I’ve definitely wanted to play in and this is something that I really wanted, but obviously this is only starting right now and there is a lot of work to do.”

Notes

  • The Timbers won their second championship final (2015, 2020) in the last six seasons, marking their fourth appearance in a final across all eras and their third appearance (2015, 2018, 2020) in a final during the MLS era.
  • With the win, Portland earned a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League. It is the third time the club has qualified for the competition, appearing in the tournament in 2014 and 2016.
  • Diego Chara, Diego Valeri and Jorge Villafaña have started in all three MLS tournament finals (2015, 2018, 2020) with Portland. All three were part of Portland’s 2015 MLS Cup Championship team.
  • Larrys Mabiala and Dario Zuparic scored their first goals of the tournament in the match.
  • Zuparic’s goal was the first of his Timbers career.
  • With goals from Mabiala and Zuparic in the match, a total of seven players tallied a goal for Portland in the competition.
  • The match marked the second time that Portland has had multiple center backs score in the same match in an MLS competition. The only previous time was in the first leg of the 2015 Western Conference Finals when Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell scored.
  • Mabiala scored his eighth career goal for the Timbers in all competitions in the match. Six of Mabiala's eight goals have been header goals.
  • Jeremy Ebobisse recorded his first assist of the tournament.
  • Ebobisse became the ninth player to register an assist for the Timbers in the competition.
  • Diego Valeri recorded his fourth assist of the tournament and his third in the last two matches.
  • Valeri has registered 25 assists on set pieces in his MLS career, which is four more than any other player since he joined the league in 2013.
  • Eryk Williamson tallied his second assist of the tournament. Williamson joins Blanco (5) and Valeri (4) as one of three players with multiple assists for the Timbers in the tournament.
  • Portland scored multiple goals in six of their seven games in the competition.
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