Yimmi Chara, Timbers vs. LA, 10.28.20
Photo by Fletcher Wold

Quotes & Notes | Portland Timbers 5, LA Galaxy 2 | Oct. 28, 2020

Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese
General thoughts on the match…
“First of all, we achieved the first goal that we put ourselves to qualify for the playoffs. So credit to the players in a fashion today in which I thought that the guys played a fantastic match. From the beginning to the end, we looked like a mature team. We moved the ball well. The first half, the way we managed the first half was very, very good. We found the goals early and then we knew how to make sure that we kept the ball and moved it to the areas we wanted. Starting the second half unfortunately we gave up a goal, but we bounced back right away finding the fourth goal. Today I felt the guys put up a very impressive and strong performance all around. I’m very proud of them. The fact that we achieved the first goal, which was to qualify and now we have to continue to compete to the top of the table and continue to look at the next game, one game at a time. But extremely proud of the performance today.”

On how the Timbers dominated the first 30 minutes of the game…
“We knew that it was going to be a difficult match. I mentioned it prior to the game. The players understood and they were able to come into the match with the right mentality, with the right intensity and from the beginning we saw a team in ourselves that wanted to get a win. We found the goals early. Great finish by [Jarosław] Niezgoda. Clinical to score the first goal and when you score the first goal, you get more confidence. We found a second goal not too far apart. That allows us to continue to be convinced in the start of the match in what we were doing was working and that gave us a lot of confidence. I think from that point on, we dominated the first half, and the second half was a very good second half. We saw that the Galaxy came strong in the second half. They put in two pieces in order to change a little bit what they were doing. But I thought the guys played a phenomenal match, and as you said, the first 30 minutes were very, very strong from the players, coming with the right mentality to a very key match today.

On the depth of the Timbers’ roster…
“I think different reasons. I think one is that we have, I believe, a roster that has the depth to do what we have been doing and to rotate some players, to give the opportunity to some players when others are injured and come in and show that they can still compete. I think also the mentality, our locker room, the way the guys have gone about the environment that we have internally, I think has created the feeling that it doesn’t matter who steps on the field, but everybody has a belief in the other player to make sure that we can achieve the goal of being competitive. And I think also, the discipline that everybody has shown, because 2020 has been very difficult. So if you don’t have players that are disciplined, that are following what you’re asking, that are working hard, that are following the protocols, that are listening to the things that we ask and especially that we don’t feel ever that we cannot improve. That we always feel that we can work more and be better. I think that is the reason why this group has done so well, and we have to continue to move forward. We had a great performance today and now we have to make sure that we prepare for the next one and try to replicate. Get in the game and try to get another three points. But I’m extremely proud of this group and the depth that I think has been a strength of the Portland Timbers this year.”

On clinching a playoff berth…
“You know always that when you play in the season, your first goal is to make sure that you can qualify into the playoffs. The first goal that you put in as a team. Then you want to try to do it in the best possible way and try to reach the highest level. That way you can play more matches at home when you make the playoffs. Now we’re in that stage and we have to compete in these final three matches that we have in the hope that we can continue to be competitive, that we can continue to get points and to continue to hope that we can play more matches here in our stadium. I think we achieved something important today, but I think especially in the fashion, the way the guys did it today because I felt it was a very strong performance and we played against a good team. A team that started the second half in the belief that they could come back. A team that has individual good players that we knew were going to be dangerous today, but I thought today we had a very mature and strong performance.”

On how the final score reflected how his team played…
“Good question because definitely we felt disappointed in the past few matches. Against LAFC at home and against Seattle away, we felt we did enough to be able to get three points, but as you know, in soccer it’s not about how you perform. It is exactly what you are able to get out of the game. We allowed those two goals in the 93rd minute in each game. Not to be able to accumulate the four points that we felt that we should have had, but also you need to make sure that you look at the positives of those two matches. You have to look at the level of play that we were able to execute and how could we become better at the things that maybe we have to manage in a better way in those two matches. I thought the guys did a great job today. First, to make an entire match performance. To find the goals in the right minutes when we most needed. We still know that we have to believe that we can still be better and continue to work and continue to make sure that we are able to bring more players back to be available to play. For me, today was a very strong performance and coming from those other two matches, it gives you a good feeling that we’re on the right path.”

On Yimmi Chara’s performance tonight…
“Yimmi I think, as all the players, had a great performance, but specifically to Yimmi, we knew that it was a matter of time for him to adapt, to feel more comfortable, to make sure that he understands this league better. That he felt physically better because he had two injuries. One prior to coming here and then another right after a few matches he played. He’s finally reached a level in which he feels very comfortable. He understands much better our principles and what we ask of him in the game to look for and I thought today, like the last two games as well, he’s been playing at a very top level.”

On the camaraderie within the team…
“This year has been an enjoyable year in regards to what we have in the locker room. The fact that we’re going through so much difficulties in this year, it was very important for us to have a group like this that fights for each other, has a belief that the strength is the group and everybody tries to put their part into the game to make sure that we’re successful as a team. I’m fortunate to be the coach of this group because I feel very privilege to have this group of players that at this difficult time have been so united to follow this path and to make sure that we work hard every single practice. So it’s been very good from that sense. We saw it in the MLS is Back Tournament that we went there and put in our minds that we had to do what we had to do in order to go all the way to the end. We suffered the injury to [Sebastián Blanco] and that was a big injury because [Blanco] was and is a very important player for us and the guys continue to support each other to make sure that we continue to move forward. That’s why I’m extremely proud of the group and we’re still going to continue to work hard to become better and to continue to be competitive. Especially all this to make sure that we bring some

Portland Timbers forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda
On how he felt the team started the match…
“We started great. Two fast goals and after these goals, our game was easier for us. And [Diego] Valeri’s third goal, it was almost a finished game, 3-0 is very difficult for the opponent to do something after the third goal…it’s very important to score the first goal...first, second and you feel more comfortable.”

On if clinching a playoff spot relieves some pressure heading into the final regular-season games…
“We are now in playoffs. It is sure for now but I was sure that we will be here in playoffs and it’s obvious that it was our goal and not only playing in playoffs, we want to do something more this year because I know, I see that we can do something more and we have potential. We have quality to prepare very good to this season and to have belief that we can do something more.”

On finally having the score reflect how the team played on the field…
“It’s true, it was very disappointing because we deserve for win in my opinion [the past] two games and I don’t know what happened. Maybe we didn’t focus enough, and they scored the goal two times in a row. And we talk about this a lot after games and now [tonight] was a great game… was 3-0, 4-1, it’s a very comfortable situation for us, for players.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Yimmi Chara
(through a translator)
On finally having a score that reflects what the team did on the field…
“I feel very happy and it’s coming back to that confidence, all the team has that confidence. In the past two games, we did lose in the last minutes and we knew it was mistakes that we did. But we know that either we win or we lose, we always make mistakes and that’s the beautiful thing about soccer is that we can always improve and get better.”

On the importance of securing first place in the Western Conference standings…
“Well we all know the benefits of finishing first, that’s why there are three teams that are fighting for that first place and we are going to give our all. We want to have home games because we know that that benefits us, so we’re going to keep battling. We still have some home games remaining, so that’s going to help us finish first.”

On what’s allowed him to improve as a player individually with the Timbers…
“Well I believe it is the confidence the team has given me. They make me feel very comfortable and that I can transmit that in the field. This is a team that is very humble, very united and it receives everyone who comes very well and it makes me feel more comfortable and my confidence has grown because of it.”

On Andy Polo’s goal…
“It’s a risk he took and he believed in himself and it was a wonderful goal what he did today.”

Notes

  • The Timbers have qualified for the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, extending an all-eras club record for consecutive seasons making the playoffs.
  • Giovanni Savarese is the first Timbers coach in all eras history to qualify for the playoffs in each of his first three seasons with the club.
  • The club’s 44 goals this season are tied for the most in the league with LAFC.
  • The Timbers now have four players (Jeremy Ebobisse, Felipe Mora, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, Diego Valeri) with seven or more goals this season. No other MLS team has more than two players with seven or more goals.
  • Portland has scored 15 goals against the Galaxy this season, which is the most the Timbers have ever scored against an opponent in one season.
  • Portland scored five goals in a home match for the second time in MLS play.
  • For the third time in 2020, the Timbers have scored five or more goals in a single match. Heading into 2020, the club had scored five or more goals three times in its first nine MLS seasons.
  • Portland scored three goals in the first 30 minutes of a match for the second time in its MLS history. They last accomplished this feat in 29 minutes against Seattle Sounders FC on Aug. 28, 2016.
  • A total of 14 different players have registered an assist for the Timbers this season.
  • Jaroslaw Niezgoda has tallied four headed goals this season, which ranks as the most in the league. Niezgoda and teammate Jeremy Ebobisse are the only players in MLS with at least three headed goals in 2020.
  • Niezgoda notched his second brace of the season, scoring twice in the first 19 minutes of the match. Niezgoda’s brace was the quickest to start a match in Portland’s MLS history.
  • Niezgoda has scored a brace in each of his last two starts, increasing his season total to seven goals.
  • Niezgoda tallied his first assist of the season.
  • Yimmi Chara delivered four assists in the match. That is tied for the most assists in a game in MLS history. He is the sixth player to do it joining Carlos Valderrama, Chris Henderson, Dwayne De Rosario, Landon Donovan, and Lee Nguyen.
  • Chara leads the team with seven assists this season. Six of Chara’s six assists have come against the LA Galaxy, which is the most assists by a Timbers player against a single opponent in a season.
  • Diego Valeri scored his eighth goal of the season, which is tied for the club lead with Jeremy Ebobisse.
  • Valeri recorded his 21st penalty-kick goal in MLS, which is the fifth-most in league history.
  • Eryk Williamson scored his third goal of the season.
  • Andy Polo scored his first regular-season goal of 2020 and the second of his Timbers career. Polo is the 13th different player to score a goal for Portland in the 2020 regular season.
  • Jorge Villafaña delivered his fourth assist of the season.
  • Pablo Bonilla recorded the first assist of his Timbers career
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